66th minute moment summed up Ander Herrera's epic performance
The Spaniard was often marginalised by Jose Mourinho but he is right down Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's street.
Ander Herrera was one of Manchester United's better players in the disappointing Champions League defeat to PSG. He has been one of their better players since Solskjaer arrived as caretaker and, in truth, one of their better players - when given the chance - since he signed for the club.
Even when the likes of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba were, under Mourinho's glare, playing sideways passes and taking an eternity to get the ball up the field, Herrera was the one pinging forward passes and trying to get up in support of the attackers.
Against Chelsea, in the FA Cup fifth round, Herrera was used on the right side of a midfield diamond and he made hay. United, he later told the BBC, had targeted Chelsea's left flank as 'a weakness'.
Indeed, Herrera headed in United's opener after cantering up that side of the pitch with his arms wide open and signalling for a cross that came from Paul Pogba. Marcos Alonso was left with an ocean of space to defend but still lost the United midfielder.
— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) February 18, 2019
Just before the end of the half, United got down Alonso's exposed flank again and Marcus Rashford's gem of a cross teed up Pogba to head home for 2-0.
If the first half saw United advancing and testing the Chelsea defence, the second half saw them withdraw towards their own goal and get compact. Chelsea only had one shot on target in that 45 minutes. Their best chance was when Eden Hazard jinked away from the otherwise solid Victor Lindelof but Herrera slid in to deflect the shot over Sergio Romero's bar.
Over 90 minutes, Herrera had six interceptions, made five tackles, three clearances and had two efforts on goal, including his headed opener.
One moment in the 66th minute (clip below shows the end result from 2:40) summed up his momentous effort in that game. United lost possession high up the pitch when a pass from Herrera was intercepted. As the ball was swept out to the left, Herrera spun to haul himself back in defence.
The ball came to Alonso on the left wing and, with Chris Smalling out of position, Herrera sprinted back to cover and he cut out the low cross meant for Gonzalo Higuain. He was not finished there, however, and he coolly turned and picked out a pass for Juan Mata.
60 yards covered to make up for his initial mistake.
Mata took the ball up the pitch before a Chelsea boot nipped in to give United a throw-in. As Ashley Young jogged to take the throw, Herrera gestured for him to take his time as he patted his heaving chest. No rush. Give me a chance to catch my breath.
Pogba claimed man of the match from the BBC but Herrera must have been close by. Not that the midfielder will care too much. At the final whistle, he was more concerned with pumping the tyres of sub Alexis Sanchez:
Love how Ander Herrera went over to Alexis at full time. He mentioned post match how impressed he was with how hard Alexis Sanchez worked when he came on. Alexis is having a hard time and Ander Herrera being a leader and motivating him is brilliant. Has to be our next captain! pic.twitter.com/jzjeclp6DR
— The Man Utd Way (@TheManUtdWay) February 18, 2019
Post-match, both Alan Shearer and Phil Neville spoke on the BBC about how United are getting back to their best and how they are just two or three players short of challenging for the league, next season and beyond.
No matter who comes and goes, Herrera is doing more than enough to get in that starting XI.