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16th Jan 2017

Ander Herrera’s stats against Liverpool put Paul Pogba to absolute shame

The real hero of Manchester United

Conan Doherty

When Paul Pogba was teasing his next move on Instagram, Ander Herrera was getting ready to impress the new manager.

When Paul Pogba started unconvincingly, Ander Herrera was sitting on the bench, biding his time, working harder.

When Paul Pogba was designing an emoji of himself, Ander Herrera was getting on with his job. He was focused on Liverpool.

As incredibly old-fashioned those comparisons might seem, there’s substance in them. There’s substance there because you look at one man’s journey to get onto the pitch for United – world record signing and all that – and another man’s journey from being unfavoured to undroppable.

There’s substance in it because, from nowhere, Ander Herrera has become the natural leader of Manchester United.

The criticism of Paul Pogba has been harsh. Overall this season that is – not on Sunday against Liverpool. The criticism wasn’t harsh enough then. He was piss.

The Frenchman has cut an impressive figure for a lot of the campaign. His coolness in possession and his audacity even has seen Jose Mourinho’s team slice through opponents and get more sniffs of goal than a Jose Mourinho team would normally like. Pogba has hit the woodwork seven times this season too. Inches are basically what separate him from a double figure goal tally already and this joke character that his critics are painting.

But, sometimes, you can’t argue with stats.

On Sunday at Old Trafford, one man was running around like a creature possessed. He was snapping at heels, barking orders, driving forward and, for 90 whole-hearted minutes, he was bloody on it. The other had his initials shaved into his head, bleached luminously, and he was jumping around his own box under corners like a clown.

Defensively, there was no comparison between the two.

Even offensively, Pogba wasn’t earning his corn.

Pogba didn’t test Mignolet once, by the way.

When it came to who controlled the game, it was one man – and he wasn’t French.

In defence, in attack, in midfield, Herrera led the way.

Unfortunately for United, Pogba didn’t follow.

He might stand at 6ft 3 but, after Sunday’s clash, the Spaniard was the only one standing tall.