Five Man Utd stars who wouldn’t be missed

Date published: Friday 15th July 2016 12:58

Antonio Valencia Ander Herrera Marcos Rojo Manchester United

Ander Herrera
After two seasons at Old Trafford, it’s yet to be established exactly what Herrera can offer United. The £29million signing was a welcome present for Louis van Gaal, but the Dutchman probably spent much of his two seasons in charge looking for the gift receipt.

As we all know, just because the midfielder wasn’t Van Gaal’s cup of tea, that does not render him useless, but the axed manager never saw enough in Herrera to trust him with any one role. On the occasions he was given a start, the 26-year-old flitted between the base of the midfield and the peak of it. In neither position did he show enough to nail down a regular place in Van Gaal’s XI.

Herrera would possibly thrive in the role Jose Mourinho gave Cesc Fabregas at Chelsea – running from deep, with a scrapper alongside him. Sadly for Herrera, though, that appears to be the position Mourinho has earmarked for Paul Pogba.

Much like Juan Mata, Herrera is a fans’ favourite at Old Trafford and has had an easy ride from the supporters since he arrived. Selling him would lead to some dissent, and he would probably make a success of his next move; but his contribution certainly wouldn’t be missed by United.

 

Bastian Schweinsteiger
It’s not gone well, has it?

The Germany veteran was signed to inject some drive into United’s midfield and a winning mentality into their dressing room. Schweinsteiger achieved neither objective in his first year.

Injuries curtailed his contribution, especially towards the back end of a season in which he featured in fewer than half of United’s Premier League matches, but Schweinsteiger failed to pin down a place in United’s engine room. He wasn’t alone. Van Gaal seemed unconvinced by almost everyone in that position with the curious exception of Marouane Fellaini.

PSG have been linked with the World Cup winner, but reports on Friday suggest Schweinsteiger is happy at United and will wait to be paid off if United are really that keen to get rid. Even if he becomes little more than a highly-paid club ambassador, few people would notice a major difference in his contribution.

 

Marcos Rojo
The Argentina defender is one of the jacks of all trades that Van Gaal appreciated but Mourinho certainly does not.

As either a central defender or a left-back, Rojo showed himself to be a master of neither in his two years at Old Trafford. The 26-year-old has appeared in exactly half of United’s Premier League games since he arrived from Sporting Lisbon, due to injuries and the fact Van Gaal clearly did not fancy him.

The manager did not sign a centre-half last season, but following a shambolic pre-season for Rojo, Daley Blind was instead preferred alongside Chris Smalling. That could have suited Rojo, given his preference is to play on the left. Luke Shaw’s injury presented an opportunity which the Argentine failed to grasp, with Van Gaal dithering between him, Matteo Darmian, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Ashley Young following Shaw’s season-ending broken leg.

With Shaw fit again and plenty of other options as back-up, Rojo’s services are not required.

 

Marouane Fellaini
The big Belgian is simply not Mourinho’s type of player – certainly not in his midfield. Too slow and clumsy to be used as a stopper and not competent enough with the ball to be trusted as a creator, it’s a wonder he has lasted this long at Old Trafford.

Van Gaal seemed to appreciate Fellaini but only for his physical presence at set-pieces. United were forced to sacrifice so much in open play for the sake of a few extra inches with which to defend corners and Mourinho will not be willing to make such a compromise.

United fans have had a love-hate relationship with Fellaini, with his very presence and the fact he was signed so shambolically by David Moyes typifying the malaise that has set in at Old Trafford in recent years. Brief periods of appreciation have punctuated the resentment from the stands, but few will be sad to see the afro duck through the exit door.

With far cuter and more creative options available to the new boss, Fellaini’s days seem numbered.  Mourinho prefers specialists to multi-function players and the only way you can envisage Fellaini being useful to the manager would be as a late battering ram off the bench if plans A, B and C had already failed.

 

Antonio Valencia
The Ecuadorian is another whose versatility was seen by Van Gaal as a strength but as that trait is his most appealing quality, Mourinho will probably be looking for more.

Valencia is a good egg and no trouble to anyone. These days, that also includes full-backs. The 30-year-old was signed from Wigan as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo and he made a pretty decent fist of what was an impossible job, enjoying a very productive first three seasons. But he has never been the same since visibly shrinking in the No.7 shirt when it was handed to him in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge.

These days, Valencia looks like a winger playing at being a full-back or a full-back moonlighting as a winger. It is difficult to recall the last occasion he took on and dribbled past a defender, preferring instead to try and create a yard of space before smashing the ball across the box like a missile, hoping for a deflection from friend or foe before it drifts out of play on the opposite flank. Opponents are happy to defend one-on-one against Valencia and Mourinho demands more from his wide players. Unlike the other players on this list, Valencia can say he made a success of his opportunity at Old Trafford. But his time appears to have passed.

Ian Watson

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