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Ander Herrera's Iconic Battle Against Eden Hazard Was A Masterclass In Man-Marking

Ander Herrera's Iconic Battle Against Eden Hazard Was A Masterclass In Man-Marking

If a game had to sum up Ander Herrera's five-year spell at Manchester United, then it would be this Man of the Match performance against Chelsea on April 16, 2017; the day Eden Hazard was stopped.

To start with, the Spaniard had some serious making up to do. In their previous meeting - a sixth round FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge - Herrera was sent off as United fell to a disappointing 1-0 defeat.

Whether he deserved to be sent for an early bath that day is questionable to say the least but to his credit, the hard-working midfielder more than made amends with a dominant display at Old Trafford.

Not only did he assist and score in United's 2-0 win but he completely nullified the threat of Chelsea's best player.

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With his work-rate, tactical flexibility and no-nonsense tackling ability, Herrera was the ideal player deployed to do a job on Hazard by Jose Mourinho.

He followed the Belgian forward around the like a bad smell - and it worked a treat.

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Herrera spoke to the media about marking the Chelsea forward after the full-time whistle, where he opened up a pre-match chat with Mourinho.

"José and I knew that Hazard was by far the best player in Premier League, so if we wanted to win this match, we needed him to touch the ball as little as possible. I said: 'Jose, if you need, I'm ready to mark him, to follow him everywhere.'"

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Years later and Herrera admitted he even promised Mourinho he'd follow him to the bathroom if necessary.

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Ander Herrera Reveals What He Told Jose Mourinho Before Man-Marking Eden Hazard
Football

Ander Herrera Reveals What He Told Jose Mourinho Before Man-Marking Eden Hazard

published at9 months ago

"Jose and I both knew Hazard was the best player, by far, in the Premier League at the time, so if we wanted to win that game, we needed him not to touch the ball, or at least as little as possible." Herrera told The Athletic.

"That's what we agreed. I said, 'Jose, I am ready if you need me to man-mark him, to follow him everywhere. If he wants to go to the bathroom, I will go with him because I want to win the game'.

"The most important thing in football is that my team wins, because then I go to sleep happy. It does not matter what you have to do, as long as you respect the rules and don't do anything illegal."

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The Spaniard, who now for Paris Saint-Germain, enjoyed his time with 'the Special One' but admitted he does not take defeats well.

"Mourinho is the best manager in the world when things go well," he added.

"The relationship with the players, the way he treats everyone; I really liked his training sessions. Also, with (long-time assistant) Rui Faria, they were a fantastic team together.

"But it is also true, when he loses, he does not take it in a good way. That is true. And he accepts that! He does not hide from it. We have a great relationship. The first year was fantastic, we won three titles. The second year, we won 84 points in the Premier League and came second.

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"We lost the FA Cup final but we played much better than Chelsea (that day), if you remember that game."

Featured Image Credit: esportivoMUFC/YouTube/Sky Sports

Topics: Football News, Eden Hazard, Football, Ander Herrera

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Jack Kenmare

Jack Kenmare is a writer at SPORTbible. He's interviewed some of the biggest names in sport, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pele, Carles Puyol and Tim Henman. He dabbles in all things sport but football is his biggest passion. He was once hit in the head by a wayward strike from Nicky Butt and lived to tell the tale.