José Mourinho was giving a talk to a group of students in Lisbon when he revealed that Ander Herrera is one of the smartest players he has coached during his career.
The Spanish midfielder enjoyed his best season for the Reds, winning the EFL Cup and the Europa League as well picking up the Sir Matt Busby player of the year award.
Herrera's quick thinking
Along with those accolades, Herrera was named Man of the Match for United’s 2-0 victory over Ajax in the Europa League final last month.
Mourinho revealed it was Herrera’s smart decision making that helped the Reds double their lead through Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s close-range strike from a corner after Paul Pogba’s opened the scoring.
Herrera ordered Mkhitaryan to push forward into Ajax’s penalty area for the set-piece as the Armenian was originally positioned outside the area, where he was in danger of picking up a second yellow card if the Dutch side sprung a counter attack.
A student who was at the lecture announced on Reddit what the United boss had said during his presentation.
'Mourinho incredible pleased' with Herrera
He explained: “Mourinho talked a lot about Herrera, saying he is one of the smartest players he has had during his career.
“Herrera took hold of the Mkhitaryan and sent him in front of the keeper, while Herrera would take the pitch outside the box. Mourinho said he was so frustrated that he said “What the hell is going on?
“It turned out Herrera had taken responsibility in the situation – Mkhitaryan had a yellow card. If Ajax suddenly counter-attacked and Mkhitaryan had fouled the player, he would have been sent off.
“Mourinho said he is incredibly pleased to have such players who can handle situations on their own and adjust.”
The 27-year-old made 50 appearances for United last season, with his tenacious and hard-working approach making him a real fan favourite at Old Trafford.
He will be a key player for the Reds ahead of the 2017/18 campaign as the club looks to challenge for the Premier League title, along with their return to the Champions League.