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Dublin: 7°C Thursday 22 October 2020

'LVG doesn't like players running with the football' - Herrera

The £28.9 million signing struggled to adapt to the Dutchman’s philosophy in the opening months of the season.

MANCHESTER UNITED MIDFIELDER Ander Herrera has admitted manager Louis van Gaal used to tell him off for looking for the ball during his early days at Old Trafford.

Herrera arrived at the Red Devils from Athletic Bilbao for £28.9 million in July to become the Dutch coach’s first signing for the club, but struggled to establish himself at the start of his debut Premier League campaign.

Injury and competition for places meant Herrera started just seven league matches during the first six months of the season, but he has since become an integral part of their push for a Champions League place – playing the full 90 minutes during four of their last five outings.

And the 25-year-old has revealed he has been forced to adapt his game under the former Barcelona boss after initially incurring his wrath for not waiting to be given possession by his team-mates.

“We keep our distance. He seems to be a good guy, with a character that strikes you from the first moment, but he has a good background,” he told El Pais.

“He likes discipline and does not believe in egos in the dressing room, but that everybody is equal under his rule. And with me he talks about what he wants from me.

“He loves possession and he doesn’t like being at risk of losing the ball. He wants long stretches of possession and keeping the ball because he believes spaces are created that way because the team has the quality to find them.

“In fact, at the start he was angry at me because I was trying to get the ball, because I always wanted to have it. And no, I must wait.”

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Herrera was also asked to compare Van Gaal with former Athletic coach Marcelo Bielsa, and claimed the current Marseille manager was far more attack-minded.

He admitted, though, that current Athletic manager Ernesto Valverde is the most balanced coach he has played under and praised his ability to maintain a happy dressing room.

Asked if Van Gaal and Bielsa were opposites in their philosophies, he said:

“In attack yes because Van Gaal believes in numerical advantages on the wings, in triangles, in not running with the ball. And Bielsa liked to have the ball to attack.

“But he believes in the player’s movement, beating the lines and breaking into the space. In fact, we knew from Bielsa that his perfect goal was one that arrives from a cross from a full-back and the other full-back shoots. He liked to attack with six or seven.

“But yeah, Van Gaal and Bielsa are masters of the ball. Although for me Valverde is the most balanced coach because he knew when to attack and how to do it according to the opposition and the pitches. Also he is the best in man management because everybody was involved, participated and happy.”

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