Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure at the end of the 2013 season brought an overwhelming end to a love story so romantic that left football in tears. While the romantics of the game were left to delve in the fond memories of the Scottish maestro, the pragmatics calculated the impending doom that was to befall the club. In his 27 year reign at the club, the hard-hitting Scot had become an embodiment of the club itself.
It was never going to be easy for Sir Alex’s immediate successor to find his footing at Old Trafford. Moyes came and went without so much as scratching the surface and while Van Gaal’s appointment was greeted with more pomp and cheer, the experienced Dutchman fared only slightly better than his predecessor with a lot more resources at his disposal.
The beginning of the 2016/17 season saw United unveil Jose Mourinho as the manager of the club, a man who had long coveted the hot seat at Old Trafford. United who had already heavily spent in the market in the post-Ferguson era showed no sign of fatigue and gifted Mourinho with the transfers of Ibrahimovic, Pogba, Mkhitaryan and Bailly. Manchester United by then already boasted of a midfield that had the likes of Schweinsteiger, Carrick, Fellaini, Herrera and Mata.
The 2017/18 summer window has seen Jose reunited with Nemanja Matic at United alongside a marquee signing in the form of Romelu Lukaku. Old Trafford is now once again a place booming with noise and thankfully for the Red Devils with plenty of goals.
United seems to have finally got their combination right this season and Mourinho has formed his core group of players. The two aspects to this news are that there will be players he will favour and players he won’t. The tough news for the ones he won’t is that they might as well try their luck elsewhere for Mourinho is not a fickle-minded person and is unlikely to change his mind no matter the status of the player. Just ask Germany legend Schweinsteiger.
United have Fellaini, Mata and Herrera in the final year of their contracts. While Mata is a regular starter and Fellaini is Jose’s favourite utility player, Herrera seems to have lost his place in the side with the Portuguese favouring the Matic-Pogba or the Matic-Fellaini axis in United’s midfield.
It almost makes no sense for United to let go of any the three players. While Mata who has finally managed to come under the good books of Jose, thanks to United’s playing style and Fellaini who has a special utility role in the team will want to extend their contract themselves, the situation for Herrera might not be so simple.
Although there are no reports to suggest that Herrera might be unhappy at United, and the midfielder has always maintained his loyalty to the club, if the situation regarding the Spaniard’s game time does not improve, it might be tricky for United to tie down Herrera to a new contract.
Herrera, who was voted Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year last year, has lost his place in the team with the introduction of the new signings. A fan-favourite of the United supporters, Herrera is known for his fighting attitude and will no doubt try to win his place back in the team before his contract situation becomes any more dire. An unfortunate injury to Pogba might just provide him with the opportunity to knock his way back into the team and that should solve the Spaniard’s contract situation automatically.