Ander Herrera believes Manchester United have enough game-changers to once again be a Premier League force after the late win at Crystal Palace.
Having been pegged back to draw 1-1 in three of their previous four Premier League outings going into the Selhurst Park clash, Jose Mourinho’s side appeared to be heading towards a similar result before Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck with two minutes remaining.
His sixth goal in as many games wrapped up a vital 2-1 win for the Red Devils after Paul Pogba’s controversial opener had been cancelled out by James McArthur.
Pogba scored despite being in an offside position as he latched onto Ibrahimovic’s knock-down, which appeared to come off the arm of the veteran Swedish striker.
The same pair then combined for United’s dramatic winner as Pogba’s slide-rule pass was finished with aplomb by Ibrahimovic.
Asked after the game about their impact, Herrera was keen to praise more than just the two summer arrivals.
“When you have top players, they can do that (win a game),” he said.
“They don’t need to play their best game to change it. That is where we have Paul, Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Ibrahimovic, top players who can change the game even when they are not playing their best.
“That is fantastic for us, but I want to speak about our spirit, we controlled the game on a day when we didn’t play our best and that is important for us.
“In a long season like this, when you win not on your best day it is very important, it is the history of this club.”
Herrera, who has settled into a middle three alongside Michael Carrick and Pogba in recent weeks, would not be drawn into any comparisons between past and current United stars.
However, the Spain international did praise Pogba’s ability to change any game at the drop of a hat.
“Pogba is Pogba and other midfielders are different,” he said when asked if he could compare the world’s most expensive player to any of his former team-mates.
“We know Paul can change a game in one second. He has an unbelievable shot, he can head the ball, he can combine near the box and create something.
“I don’t like to compare, I just say that Paul is a top player and can change a game in one second but we are lucky because we don’t only have Paul who can do that.
“I am so optimistic because we are in a very good moment and we really believe that we deserve to win games because we are working so hard.”
The victory means United remain six points outside the Premier League’s top four, with Mourinho evidently delighted with the win as he ran onto the pitch to embrace his players at full-time.
“You saw him,” Herrera said of Mourinho’s reaction.
“Even more in the dressing room, he is so passionate and thinks the same as us – that we deserve to have more points and that is why he was so happy today.
“We are so happy because we showed our spirit, this was not our best game but even on a day where we didn’t play our best game we created six or seven chances.
“To be honest I prefer to win earlier because you feel more calm and can control the game better, but a win is a win.
“It is even more important when all of our opponents won, only Arsenal lost, and we are so happy.”
United remain unbeaten in the league since they were hammered 4-0 at Chelsea on October 23 and face West Brom, Sunderland and Middlesbrough over the festive period.
“It (the Christmas period) is key, but in the Premier League, you never know,” added Herrera.
“If we were in Spain I could tell you ‘these are the games we are going to win’ but in the Premier League you never know. You can beat Tottenham and come here and don’t win.
“You never know, you saw Arsenal lost at Everton, Man City lost to Leicester and then Leicester lost at Bournemouth.
“There are no easy games, the Premier League is the Premier League, the most amazing league in the world and the way I think is ‘the next game’.
“The next game is West Brom, we want to win. If you think you are just going to beat West Brom, Middlesbrough or Sunderland, maybe you don’t do that so you just think about the next game.”