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Ander Herrera Given Clear Path To Man Utd Captaincy, And Deservedly So

Ander Herrera Given Clear Path To Man Utd Captaincy, And Deservedly So
By Mikey Traynor

If, in the summer of 2014, you told Manchester United fans that new signing Ander Herrera would be on the verge of becoming the club's captain within three years, most would have looked at you as if you had two heads.

And yet, in the summer of 2017, the departure of Wayne Rooney to Everton will leave a vacancy, and while Michael Carrick will correctly be handed the armband for what will likely be his final season at the club, the man signed from Bilbao is the only candidate to take the reigns from there on.

That seems to be the plan going forward, as according to various reports Carrick will be club captain while Herrera will be appointed vice-captain, but with the veteran midfielder's minutes on a downward curve, vice-captain essentially becomes captain-in-waiting.

And it is deserved.

Ander Herrera enjoyed a very positive first season at Manchester United where his purple-patch of goalscoring flattered to deceive in terms of what to expect going forward, but it was clear he would be a useful player and the fans warmed to him instantly. His second season was less encouraging, as the Spaniard struggled to define his role in the team, but it was far from a disaster. You could tell that he struggled with Louis Van Gaal, and yet still showed flashes of why Man Utd decided to go back in for him after the whole fiasco with Bilbao the first time.

Then came the arrival of Jose Mourinho.

It was expected that some players would improve and other would regress, as is always the case under Jose and his unique methods, but nobody exemplified the 'siege mentality' that the Portuguese installed at Old Trafford better than Herrera. He is the prototypical Mourinho player.

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A snide little so-and-so, a player who's face alone sparks rage in opposition fans... But a fine footballer at the same time.

Many of those opposition fans will mock his appointment as captain when it happens, as they hate Herrera for his play-acting and wind-up tactics in the heat of battle, but those that laugh are missing the point entirely. They're supposed to hate him.

That hate also endears him to the club's fans even more, but it is Herrera's clear passion for the club that singled him out as more than just another import signing from early on.

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Herrera talks about Manchester United like it's the greatest club in the world and he's privileged to be there, which is becoming more and more of a rarity with United targeting players taking a 'step down' from Real Madrid or Juventus, or whoever. When the team's performances are sub-par, he is often quick to shoulder responsibility and often does it looking while sick to his stomach. He cares. He gets it.

If you compare Herrera to the other candidates for vice-captain, you see how this was a no-brainer.

You've got Antonio Valencia who doesn't have a lick of English despite playing in England since 2006, Chris Smalling who suffered an alarming drop in form last year and is now arguably fifth choice defender at the club, David De Gea who is a goalkeeper and his appointment would look like an act of desperation to keep him at the club, and Juan Mata, who has likely never raised his voice in his entire lifetime.

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Ander Herrera will, almost certainly, be the Manchester United captain at the start of next season, and he will have earned it. For Man Utd fans, the knowledge that nobody currently at the club - aside from Marcus Rashford, possibly - would cherish that armband more than him is why it will be celebrated when it's confirmed.

Carrick has an important role to play as the "club-captain", obviously, but we can expect to see Ander Herrera's influence continue to grow now that his adoption of the manager's plan for the club has been recognised.

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