More Info on Manchester United’s 2 New Signings

Ahead of Manchester United’s first preseason tour game in the US against the LA Galaxy, we take a look at Manchester United’s first two signings of this summer transfer window.

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Thanks to Hannah (@Little_Aig) for the wonderful infographic!


Ander Herrera:

  • Defensive Attributes
    • Excellent presser – if van Gaal uses a pressing scheme with United, expect Herrera to play a key component.
    • Tackling – solid at both standing and sliding tackles. He may not seem like a physical player but the Spaniard definitely likes to get stuck in.
    • Tactically sound – Herrera was one of the key midfielders when Bielsa coached Athletic Bilbao. Under Bielsa and eventually Valverde, Herrera showcased his tactical nous through his positioning, reading of the game and anticipation which played a key part in him winning  tackles.  In 2013/14 season for Bilbao, out of 33 games, Herrera won 75 tackles. Good stats for a player who was initially out of favor due to the transfer saga that past summer.
  • Attacking Attributes
    • Very good spatial awareness – Herrera is akin to Fabregas in terms of floating into open spaces to receive the ball from teammates. However, Herrera likes to check into the space the defender is occupying before checking back into open space to receive the pass. His agility and quickness help execute the subtle movements to get some separation from his marker and is the main reason he seems so open when in possession of the ball.
    • Excels at linking play in transition –  If Herrera wasn’t directly setting up his teammates for a potential scoring opportunity, he was opening the door for a teammate to do the same.  Combined with his spatial awareness, Herrera’s more direct style of passing encourages his teammates ahead of him to make runs into more dangerous spaces to open up the opposition.  More often than not, he will find them.
    • Speed of thought – Due to Bilbao’s pressing, it wasn’t uncommon to recover possession in higher areas.  Herrera has a good eye for the pass but can also execute the idea quickly before the passing lane is closed.  A facet of his game which plays a part in why he was good at initiating Bilbao’s attacks or keeping certain attacks alive.
  • Areas of Improvement
    • Shooting – While Herrera is a balanced midfielder already, it doesn’t hurt to add more goals to your game. Considering his role for Bilbao last season, 5 goals is not as bad as it seems.  With more spaces to exploit in the English Premier League, perhaps Herrera will find more opportunities to score.
    • Passing – Although his 80% passing percentage can be explained by his more adventurous style of passing compared to other Spaniards, his passing can be a bit loose.


Luke Shaw:

  • Defensive Attributes
    • Holds shape with defensive line well
    • Good recovery pace
    • Anticipation allows him to make timely tackles/interceptions in recovery of possession
    • Stands up well to attacker and is difficult to beat in 1v1 situations
  • Attacking Attributes
    • Likes to dribble into central areas to exploit space if there’s no passing option out wide
    • Can create extra inch of space ahead of defender providing an angle for crossing opportunity
    • Likes to play flat crosses across the box.
    • Pace allows him to break away from defenders. Useful in transition as he can run well with the ball.
      • Will be helpful in United’s transition game as van Gaal likes to take advantage of the moment the opponent’s defensive shape is disorganized
    • Solid in possession and looks to play forward passes into midfield and then make runs into space after making the pass.
  • Areas of Improvement
    • Needs to be more secure in his touch. Preparatory touches (before shot, pass or other on-the-ball action) are crucial for taking advantage of the opportunity as well as maintaining possession.  Sometimes when his passing options are closed, his touch becomes a bit too loose and can lead to a loss in possession.
    • Speed of thought/play – It is not uncommon for young players to be erratic in their overall performances.  For Shaw, although he usually makes good decisions on and off the ball, he can sometimes be a bit too hesitant.  Under van Gaal, who likes to see quick ball circulation, Shaw can improve this side of his game and become even more decisive.
    • Finding balance between attacking exuberance and defensive solidity – A challenge for any fullback as they are expected to bomb up and down the flank contributing on both sides of the pitch. Shaw has time on his side at the age of 19 to strike this balance.  The tools he has already puts him in good stead for the future.

What Manchester United fans can look forward to are two players who are eager to play for the shirt and hungry to succeed. They are already coming into the club with a fantastic mentality and have a refreshing approach to the game.  Now with Louis van Gaal, we can only hope he gives them the tools to realize their potential even further.  We will be looking at Shaw and Herrera later in the season to assess how they’ve adjusted to the club thus far.


Thanks for reading!

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