Jose Mourinho has revealed Ander Herrera as “one of the smartest players he has ever had” after he disobeyed his manager to help Manchester United win the Europa League final.
The Manchester United boss revealed, during a lecture at the University of Lisbon last week, that the midfielder went directly against his orders, which left him furious on the touchline.
That was until he realised what Herrera had done, which led to Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goal to settle the final in Stockholm.
One student, Petter Skogsletten, who was present during the lectures on ‘Leadership and Communication’ and ‘From game analysis to on-field team organisation’, noted on Reddit how heavily mentioned Herrera was throughout the talks.
During the final, Mourinho told Mkhitaryan that he must be the player to stand outside the box at corners and stop counter attacks, with Herrera in the box.
However, Herrera switched the roles with the Armenian shortly after half-time, leaving Mourinho enraged – despite Mkhitaryan scoring from the corner.
Skogsletten told Nettavisen: “Mourinho talked a lot about Herrera, saying he is one of the smartest players he has had during his career.
“Herrera took hold of the Mkhitaryan and sent him in front of the keeper, while Herrera would take the pitch outside the box. Mourinho said he was so frustrated that he said 'What the hell is going on?'
“It turned out Herrera had taken responsibility in the situation - Mkhitaryan had a yellow card. If Ajax suddenly counterattacked and Mkhitaryan had fouled the player, he would have been sent off.
“Mourinho said he is incredibly pleased to have such players who can handle situations on their own and adjust.”
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