Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick hail different qualities in Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez made his debut for Manchester United on Friday night.
Sanchez impressed in United's comfortable win over League Two side Yeovil Town in the FA Cup fourth-round, setting-up goals for Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford, as Jose Mourinho's team strolled into the next round. The Chilean will have much tougher tests in the weeks, months and years to come, but he looks set to have a big impact at Old Trafford.
His new teammates were certainly impressed with the flashes of quality he showed on Friday. Herrera and Michael Carrick both started the match, and spoke about the former Arsenal forward following the game. As you would expect, both were very complimentary of Sanchez. However, it was interesting to hear which aspects of his game each player focused on.
"What I really like from him is the way he fights when the team loses the ball," Herrera told MUTV.
"He's always ready to be the first defender for the team, and that's big for us. Obviously, we know his quality on the ball, he’s amazing, but his fight, the way he defends, he's the first player to defend – I really like it."
Herrera was a key player for United last season, and it could be argued that the Spanish midfielder was Mourinho's most important player. He expertly carried out his instructions, and just seemed to get what it meant to be a Mourinho player. Herrera was his manager's lieutenant on the field, and it's no surprise to see him focus on Sanchez's defensive qualities.
Sanchez is excellent in both the defensive and attacking phases of play. But that Herrera focused on what he does when United don't have the ball, arguably reflects how his manager views the game. Mourinho has always prioritised effort when out of possession over almost any other quality in a player, and has discarded those who couldn't meet his expectations in this regard.
However, when asked about Sanchez's performance, Carrick focused on a different aspect.
"He is not bad, is he? Not bad for a little man," the midfielder said.
"He is going to be a terrific player, he is a proper Manchester United player, and it's great to have him here. He is so exciting and so dynamic. He's always looking to create opportunities, to play forward and the fans are going to enjoy watching him, hopefully we will enjoy playing with him."
Interestingly, Carrick focuses on what Sanchez can do with the ball, praising his eagerness to try pass forward, his trickery and how much enjoyment he could bring to United. It could be argued that the United captain reflects the views of Sir Alex Ferguson, his former manager. Ferguson always placed an emphasis on having such exciting players.
Listening to Herrera is like listening Mourinho speak about a player, while Carrick echoes what Ferguson valued in players. However, despite their contrasting views on the game, Mourinho and Herrera, Ferguson and Carrick would all appreciate Sanchez's winning mentality.