Ander Herrera has given an interview with Mundo Deportivo where he has talked about the recent win over Manchester City, the hopes our club has for the future, his thoughts on losing his place in the Spain team and opinion on Jose Mourinho.
Is there still talk of triumph in the Manchester derby in the locker room?
More in the city than in the locker room. I would not say we have to turn the page but we have to start thinking about West Bromwich Albion and confirm second place to build a stronger United for the future. The victory in the derby was important for the points but also because it would not have been nice for City to lift the title in front of us.
Some at Old Trafford see it as a symbolic title.
There is nothing to celebrate but it was a mental liberation. United’s history is winning titles, not winning a derby. We have that clear, but preventing our rival from winning the Premier League has an important meaning. During the game I thought about those 4,000 fans who were in the Etihad and who were going to suffer a setback that would have remained for history.
Was that what made you react in the second half?
No one should underestimate us. There was no specific talk, rather loose comments and a collective reaction. We appealed to pride and everyone tried to correct their mistakes to avoid City being the champions.
Did you get annoyed by criticism for that unconscious spit on the City’s shield?
It is ridiculous to think that something like this is done on purpose. I did not know what I had spit on, then I checked the images and saw that it did. I know where the intention of finding a culprit comes from to focus attention on that issue and not on the fact that we had turned the derby around.
Mourinho says that this season has been better than the previous one. What do you think?
The stats are there. It is true that last year we won three titles, but we finished sixth in the Premier League and we had to win the Europa League to qualify for the Champions League.
Success supports growth, but this year you will win less…
You have to put everything in perspective. In England the Premier League is given more importance than the Champions League and we were not in it the previous season. This season, however, we are playing a good role but we have found an impeccable team in opposition.
But in the Champions League you were not up to it…
The elimination hurt but Sevilla was better. I was not playing so it would be unfair to assess what happened on the pitch. The only thing I can say is that they deserved to progress and that we must return to that round, at least.
What is valued besides finishing first in the league?
At this level you are judged by the titles, much more than the way you play, if you have competed or with what attitude. In clubs like United, Barça, Madrid or Bayern what counts is winning.
Were you more surprised by the elimination of City or Barça in the Champions League?
Barça, of course, but Roma deserved to win. We like this sport so much because anyone can beat anyone and at the moment when you relax worse teams takes advantage.
Do they miss Guardiola and Messi?
Messi is number one regardless of the coach there is. It has been with Guardiola, with Luis Enrique, with Tata and with Tito Vilanova. I have no doubt that he is the best in the history of football.
It has not been an easy year for you. Have you suffered?
I am a privileged person who dedicates himself to what he had dreamed since he was very young. I do not suffer, just the opposite. I enjoy coming to the dressing room every day, going out to train, seeing stadiums full of people and taking a picture with the fans waiting for us in Carrington. I will take everything from this profession until it does not give me anymore. Obviously you are happier when you play, but it also comforts me to be fit, to train to the fullest and go home with the assurance of having given the maximum.
Does the arrival of Matic explain why you have not played so much?
Probably. Busquets is the great reference for that position and Matic is also among the best. What I like is to give the coach solutions.
Where do you feel most comfortable playing?
It depends on the match scenario. When the opponent is enclosed, as a defensive pivot you participate more in the game and in creation. When the opponent is more offensive, as inside you enter more in contact and you find more spaces. I am a team player and I want to get involved anywhere I’m asked to. I even played right-back against Everton at Old Trafford last year.
Would it have been better for you if the World Cup in Russia had been played last summer?
Yes, but I do not regret anything. Playing in the national team is the greatest there is, I was with them almost all of last year and the group is unbeatable. I think Spain is going to be world champion and it would be a dream to be part of it, although to receive that call you have to always play in your team.
How is your relationship with Mourinho?
Mourinho backs you up if you give it your all and so I understand football. Play or not, this is a group and the groups win. Mourinho treats you like a person and is a direct and upfront person. He has no problems in telling you what he thinks. It never happens behind your back.
Why is it that Mourinho seems to always choose the role of the bad guy in the movie?
Because he is comfortable with that character. One of the things that I value most about Mourinho is that he does not care what they say about him. It is a brutal quality because the human being tends to be affected by what they say about him and José, on the other hand, apparently it does not affect him at all.
Is the external perception of him very different from what he is like behind closed doors?
Mourinho is totally different and has nothing to do with the image he projects outwardly. He is not that rude and serious person that he is in front of the press.
Why has football lost patience in England?
In my opinion, it is linked to the economic setback that implies a downgrade. Television rights change a lot depending on whether they are in the Premier or the Championship and the presidents or owners of the clubs fear that the following year they may not have the same income.
You have one year left on his contract. Will you pick up the phone in the summer?
I am going to fulfill the year that I have left but I do not know if I will renew. We have started talking but nothing has been decided yet.
Have you ever been close to signing for Barça?
I have never been near before now. They may have sometimes thought of me as one of the fifteen alternatives on their list, but I can not say that they were about to sign me.