Ander Herrera has thanked Gary Neville and credited the former Manchester United star for inspiring the Spain star to turn himself into a mainstay of Jose Mourinho’s side.
The former Athletic Bilbao star has enjoyed his best season to date in the Premier League, having been transformed into a defensive midfielder by Jose Mourinho at the start of the campaign.
But it could all have been so different for Herrera, who was once branded ‘too nice’ by Neville and had big concerns over the Spanish midfielder’s quality.
Neville, speaking to Sky Sports, said: “When he first came in, no way in this world did I think he was a United player.
“I thought he was too nice and didn’t look particularly brilliant. But in the last six or seven months there’s been a huge shift in his personality. He looks like a fighter and if there’s a job to be done, it’s him doing it.”
Herrera insists, however, that rather than take Neville’s criticisms to heart, he actually used them to inspire him to help change his game once called upon by Mourinho.
The 27-year-old midfielder has now become a key part of Mourinho’s side and much of that is down to the advice he took from the United legend on how to improve his game.
Herrera, speaking on ESPN FC , said: “I don’t know what he means when he says “nice”! I think, in my first two seasons, I try to work very hard for the team.
“I played 71 games for the team, so that’s important, as well. But of course, this season I made one step forward. Also my role in the team has changed.
“But I think everyone knows, and Gary Neville knows, that with confidence you perform better. I am very thankful also to him because I really appreciate what he said about me. And I know he’s a Manchester United fan, so I tell him the same as I tell everyone: I will not stop here.”
Herrera on how his Man Utd role changed
Herrera also explained how a meeting with Mourinho saw him switch his role in the team this season – although he admits he still wants to score more goals for the club in the future.
“The manager had a conversation and told me I was going to be an important player if I do what he wanted me to do,” he added. “I am always open to learning. I am always open to adapting myself to a new role and a new position.
“It is not so easy to play for Manchester United, for example, as a No. 10. When you play for a big club, a No. 10 has to score 10 or 15 goals and make 10 or 15 assists, so it’s not so easy.
“So I say to myself, if I want to play every game for Manchester United, which is my dream, I have to do something else for the club and for the manager. I think we have a good understanding between the manager and myself.
“We understand football the same way and we think the same; if you give everything, you are going to give things to the team.”