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Pogba, Herrera & Matic; key to Man Utd's success

Opinion: Pogba, Herrera, Matic; the real bedrock of Manchester United's renaissance

February 9, 2019 By Emmanuel K. Budu-Annor
There may be Rashford, Martial and De Gea but this trio have been the actual fulcrum in the revival of the Red Devils.

The cliché "never say never" has at no time made more sense than this very moment where Manchester United is cruising on cloud nine under the coxswaining clout of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. About seven weeks ago, a shot at slipping into the top-four was a far cry for the Red Devils.

In recollection, their season was conspicuously defined by players falling out with a manager who often lamented the chasm between his wishes and the desires of his higher-ups. In the words of Owen Hargreaves, at some point, every Manchester United aficionado "was in the doghouse under Jose Mourinho."

With the Ole wheel greased and in steady motion, credit must be given when and where due. Predominantly, the enterprise and shrewdness of the interim Norwegian manager's coaching staff comprising of Mike Phelan, Michael Carrick, Kieran McKenna and Emilio Alvarez (goalkeepers' trainer) deserves massive plaudits.

Now, while many may attribute the success enjoyed by the Old Trafford outfit to the finishing acumen of the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, the resoluteness of Victor Lindelof, as well as the composure of David De Gea, to name a few, a very essential configuration that lies in the middle of Ole's blueprint cannot be overlooked.

While Paul Pogba has ascended the throne as the rightful poster boy of United, it is Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic who have proved pivotal in the Frenchman's revival. Under Solskjaer, the role of the pair transcends just marshaling affairs in the midfield having barely featured together consistently under Jose Mourinho. They are more or less the glue that binds the team and allows the smooth-sailing attacking football that fans have only witnessed more in these past few weeks than in the last six years. 

Again, the relevance of the duo to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's game plan cannot be understated as the former Manchester United striker almost paid the price when he dropped Herrera to accommodate Pereira in the draw against Burnley. In hindsight, the imbalance, the team experiences is quite massive when any among the trio is amiss.

As things stand, Pogba is well on course in making a claim for Manchester United's Player of the Season accolade and, although Matic and Herrera may not boast his numbers, they have proved to be indispensable in getting the best out of the ex-Juventus star. And, with Manchester United not showing any signs of fluffing its lines in its quest to challenge for a top-four spot, one should expect Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to keep the core of his masterplan intact.

A real litmus test is beckoning with Paris Saint-Germain set to travel to Old Trafford for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg encounter. However, should the scripts be defied in the tie, then a tangible cause for alarm could sweep across the competitors of the Red Devils and any team yet to cross the paths of the resurgent 20-time English champions.

But, for now, it is only right to hail their unsung heroes in Matic and Herrera as much as Paul Pogba.



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