Ander Herrera’s rise to prominence in recent weeks has been a key contributor to the strong results Manchester United have recorded of late to near-cement a spot in the top four.
So convinced are the bookies about the Reds nailing Champions League qualification they’re offering a microscopic 2/25 about it.
Since losing 2-1 at Swansea, Louis van Gaal’s troops have recorded five straight domestic wins, the latest being the 3-1 toppling of Aston Villa last weekend.
Spanish schemer Herrera scored two of the goals to see off the Villans, while his incisive and accurate passing allowed him to control the match.
Few would’ve envisaged the Athletic Bilbao recruit having such influence on games as he battled to adjust to Premier League rigours in the months that followed his move from Basque country.
The start of the 25-year-old’s Old Trafford career was particularly injury-hit, hampering his ability to settle quickly, but his supreme talent has been made evident for all to see in Man Utd’s recent victories.
It’s not just acclimatisation responsible for the spike in his performances, however.
The tactical tweaks of the Iron Tulip have enabled Herrera to flourish, while the increased freedom Michael Carrick’s stationing in front of the back four has afforded him is an enormous factor.
Prior to the Geordie passmaster’s comeback, the Bilbao native was deployed deeper in midfield, with greater defensive responsibilities as Van Gaal strived to make a front three of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao work.
This formation saw United’s midfield take a diamond shape, with Herrera assuming one of the wider central positions.
These days he’s more advanced, with dependable Carrick reducing the amount of defensive tasks he has to carry out and two wingers minimising his excursions out wide.
More importantly, the three-striker ploy Van Gaal experimented with at the start of the season has been ditched, with skipper Rooney spearheading the attack solo and Herrera’s chief task to furnish the England ace with the ball.
An advanced playmaker role is, obviously, one he’s well suited to and this has been a crucial factor behind the elevation in his performances.