EXCLUSIVE: Manchester United’s new signing Ander Herrera focused on success

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In his first game as a Manchester United player Ander Herrera was awarded the man of the match award as the Red Devils crushed the LA Galaxy 7-0 at the Pasadena Rose Bowl on Wednesday night.

Herrera didn’t score, but that’s not what he’s in the team to do. His slick passing, ability to create space for himself and impressive workrate in the engine room proved he’s a top player.

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[RELATED: United hammer LA 7-0]

Speaking to PST before United’s preseason tour of the U.S. began, 24-year-old Herrera was focused on bringing one thing to Old Trafford: success.

The Spanish midfielder finally joined United earlier this summer after being close to a move from Athletic Bilbao last August and again in January. After a stunning opening performance of preseason you can see why the Red Devils were so keen to get him locked down. Sitting in front of the back four, always demanding the ball and stroking it around comfortably, Herrera looked the real deal against LA.

What can we expect from him at United this season and beyond?

“I think that one of my best qualities is that I always want the ball,” Herrera told PST. “I always keep the ball. I never hide. I think I have come to Manchester United because the coach and the club want us to be an offensive team that is always trying to win the game.”

Herrera is eager to succeed at Old Trafford and bring trophies back to the 20-time English champions who suffered their worst season in Premier League history last year. The young Spaniard is aiming to bring silverware back as soon as possible but insisted the Red Devils’ new-look side must work harder than ever before to prosper.

“Manchester United must win trophies,” Herrera said defiantly. “United is the biggest club in England and the club has won a lot of trophies. If we are a humble team and we work hard, we will achieve our objectives and we will win trophies. First, we have to work hard. We have to defend together. We have to be a compact team. If we do that, in the future we will be able to win trophies. First, we have to run and work hard as a team.”

With new manager Louis Van Gaal preferring a 3-5-2 formation in his first game in charge of United against the Galaxy on Wednesday, the Red Devils and particularly Herrera looked comfortable in possession and kept the ball well. Of course, no disrespect to LA, but United will be coming up against better teams in the PL than the Galaxy. However the style of play van Gaal is promising will be in line with United’s ethos of attacking with panache and pace. Herrera, who combined superbly with countryman Juan Mata in midfield, will be at the hub of that and he loves it.

source: Getty Images
Herrera in action for Bilbao, left, has had a promising start to his United career.

“He [van Gaal] wants the team to attack, always,” Hererra said. “He wants us to keep the ball and keep possession and to be an offensive team. We are Manchester United and we must play offensive. Our fans always want us to win games in that way.”

Herrera already has seven seasons of playing experience under his belt with Bilbao and Real Zaragoza and the Spanish youngster is keen to try and force his way into the full Spanish national team after representing La Roja at every level of the youth setup. The Manchester United man knows his club team comes first, but his dreams of playing for Spain is a close second.

“I wish one day to play for the Spanish national team,” Herrera said. “But I think first I have to do things well at United. After that I hope that Vicente del Bosque will call me up. First I have to do things well at United, because my club is Man United, but it is of course a dream to play for the Spanish national team as well.”

Out of the same mold as the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, Herrera certainly seems to have a bright future in the red shirt of both Manchester United and Spain. His future is bright, but the man from Bilbao is keen to look to United’s great players from the past to draw inspiration. During their U.S. tour, former United great David Beckham popped in to meet the players and Herrera had his picture taken with Becks. He believes past players like Bekcham is what makes the club great, as well as spurring on the current crop of youngsters to succeed and replicate the success of the past.

“This is one of the biggest clubs in the world that a legend like Beckham comes to visit us,” Herrera said. “It is important for us that Man United’s history and the legends who shaped it act as a mirror for us. We want to mirror their success. Players like Beckham were top professionals and they are heroes for us younger professionals.”

If Herrera carries on the way he has started his United career, he could soon become a hero in his own right.

Video: Modric, Milner show off in training ahead of UCL final

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The UEFA Champions League final hasn’t even kicked off yet, and Liverpool and Real Madrid are already trying to show each other up with some gorgeous golazos.

[ MORE: Everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s UCL final ]

Both sides had their final training sessions on Friday, and there were several unforgettable moment for each club.

We start with Real, who even got manager Zinedine Zidane involved in a crossing and finishing drill with some of his players.

This is where Luka Modric’s stunning volley came into play (below).

Meanwhile, in an inter-squad scrimmage amongst Liverpool’s team, James Milner unleashed this brilliant curling effort into the top corner (below).

LIVE: Aston Villa, Fulham battle for Premier League promotion

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The task is quite simple for the two sides competing at Wembley Stadium on Saturday; win and you’re back in the Premier League.

Aston Villa and Fulham will battle it out for the third and final promotion spot into the PL (12 p.m. ET) after boasting tremendous 2017/18 campaigns.

LIVE UPDATES FOR THE PLAYOFF FINAL 

For both clubs, there is a significance about restoring their role as a PL club, with Fulham last competing in the top flight four seasons ago and Villa two seasons removed.


Aston Villa: Johnstone; Chester, Snodgrass, Grealish, Hourihane, Jedinak, Hutton, Terry, Elmohamady, Adomah, Grabban. Bench: Whelan, Hogan, Bree, Onomah, Bjarnason, Kodjia, Bunn.

Fulham: Bettenelli; Fredericks, Sessegnon, Odoi, McDonald, Johansen, Cairney, Ream, Targett, Mitrovic, Kamara. Bench: Button, Fonte, Ayite, Norwood, Piazon, Christie, Kalas.

Cream of the crop: Ranking all 23 current MLS managers

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When it comes to “who’s the best?” arguments, they usually encompass which team or player has earned the right to call themselves king.

[ MORE: Chicharito says Mexican team always feels welcome in U.S. ]

Recently though, conversations over social media had us thinking about Major League Soccer, and more specifically, the managerial side of the game.

Household names like Gerardo Martino and Bob Bradley are surely considered to be among the best of the best, and that got us here at Pro Soccer Talk listing the all the potential candidates.

We’re ranking all 23 current MLS managers, based on past performance (wins/losses), longevity at their club and ability to construct a high-caliber roster.


23. Ben Olsen — D.C. United

Olsen’s value to D.C. as both a player and manager cannot go unstated, but his struggles in the latter department have been mounting for years now. Outside of an Open Cup win in 2013, Olsen has been quite underwhelming given the team’s history.

22. Anthony Hudson — Colorado Rapids

It was a tough situation to come into, but some of the player moves that Hudson made in his first season were just mind-boggling.

21. Remi Garde — Montreal Impact

Wholesale changes could be coming at the Impact sooner rather than later, and Garde’s early difficulties make you wonder how long he’ll be around.

20. Mikael Stahre — San Jose Earthquakes 

The Earthquakes have made a conscious effort to get younger, so Stahre deserves some more time to get acquainted.

19. Adrian Heath — Minnesota United

It’s been a tough go in Minnesota for Heath, particularly in the injury department. However, his struggles seem to carry with him throughout MLS, whether it was previously in Orlando or currently with the Loons.

18. Jim Curtin — Philadelphia Union

The club’s unwillingness to spend has really crippled Curtin, who deserves to be higher on this list, but there are simply too many quality coaches in the league right now.

17. Veljko Paunovic — Chicago Fire

Since arriving in the U.S., Paunovic has gone heavy with high-profile moves, whether that be Nemanja Nikolic or trading for Dax McCarty. He’s had his shares of ups and downs, so we’ll have to monitor if he gets over some of the humps this season.

16. Brad Friedel — New England Revolution

Friedel’s first season in New England is probably going about as well as he would have hoped for. After getting situated with Lee Nguyen, Friedel has seemed to have brought a real presence that has allowed players like Diego Fagundez and Teal Bunbury to thrive.

15. Giovanni Savarese — Portland Timbers

In a small sample size, Savarese has essentially picked up where Caleb Porter left off with a talented Timbers squad. Time will tell how well he can sustain success in MLS.

14. Mike Petke — Real Salt Lake

RSL boasts one of the best, young squads in MLS with its academy continuing to be a driving force, but Petke has had his share of struggles handling some of the team’s well-known players.

13. Jason Kreis — Orlando City

He has an MLS Cup, so yes, there is a legitimate argument to have him higher. However, his time in New York was one of a nightmare, although not entirely unexpected for an expansion side. That carried over in Orlando until this season, so perhaps a sustained run in 2018 could boost his stock once again.

12. Sigi Schmid — LA Galaxy

Schmid has been stuck with a lot of the holdovers from the previous Galaxy regime, but he has to figure things out very soon because there is a clear gap between the top six and the rest of the Western Conference field at the moment.

11. Wilmer Cabrera — Houston Dynamo

Cabrera has erased a lot of the aftertaste from his time at Chivas USA, and 2018 has been even more impressive given the fact that he and his squad lost Erick “Cubo” Torres during the offseason.

10. Oscar Pareja — FC Dallas

Last season’s second half struggles were likely an anomaly for Pareja and Dallas. He continues to develop talented players through the academy pipeline, which is why Dallas will be in contention in the West once again this season.

9. Patrick Vieira — New York City FC

The Frenchman has brought stability to the Bronx since arriving in 2016, and despite the team’s lack of playoff success, NYCFC has built a strong roster that is honestly one of the most entertaining to watch when clicking on all cylinders.

8. Carl Robinson — Vancouver Whitecaps

His record is dead even across the board 70-49-70 since taking over the Whitecaps, but Robinson has helped his side make the playoffs in three of four seasons, while also hoisting a Canadian Championship.

7. Brian Schmetzer — Seattle Sounders

Consecutive trips to MLS Cup, including one title, is no small feat. Schmetzer may very well be the most-underrated coach in MLS.

6. Greg Vanney — Toronto FC

2018 hasn’t been ideal for Vanney and TFC, but he helped construct one of the best teams in league history, and when healthy, they are still capable of living up to that billing.

5. Gregg Berhalter — Columbus Crew

Despite some of the off-field turmoil surrounding the Crew, Berhalter has instilled a winning culture, and this season might be his best job yet as a manager.

4. Peter Vermes — Sporting KC

There’s a reason why Vermes is the longest-tenured manager in MLS. The club has qualified for the postseason in seven straight seasons under Vermes, including an MLS Cup win in 2013.

3. Bob Bradley — Los Angeles FC

Bradley’s journey back to MLS came with criticism based on his time outside the states, but it’s very clear he knows what he’s doing in the U.S.. LA FC is following in the footsteps of Atlanta from a season ago, which is a scary thought.

2. Gerardo “Tata” Martino — Atlanta United

Martino’s already-impressive reputation has only increased since arriving in Atlanta last year. All the credit cannot solely go to Martino, but much of the team’s success in less than two seasons can go to the Argentine.

1. Jesse Marsch — New York Red Bulls

It’s easy to argue for some of the names other than Marsch at number one, but his system with the Red Bulls has become iconic. The club doesn’t overspend on players, and Marsch manages to get the most out of his Homegrowns and other young squad members.

Workers to fix automation issues on Atlanta stadium’s roof

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ATLANTA (AP) Workers will begin the final construction phase of Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s tricky retractable roof on Tuesday, nine months after the facility opened.

The $1.5 billion stadium will be open in good weather for the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United games. Automation problems kept the roof closed for most of the stadium’s first year.

Beginning Tuesday, the roof will remain in a locked open position for 10 days, including June 2, when Atlanta United plays the Philadelphia Union.

The management group of Arthur Blank, who owns the Falcons and Atlanta United, says the final commissioning work to complete the automation will last several weeks.

When work is completed, the roof is expected to close or open in as few as 12 minutes.

“The complexity of the design and our heavy events schedule has made it take longer than we had hoped, but great things take time and we’re happy to see the finish line,” Steve Cannon, CEO of Blank’s management group, said in a statement.

The stadium will be host to the 2019 Super Bowl. The NFL prefers for the roof to be open for the Super Bowl, weather permitting.

The roof has been closed for most major events at the new stadium, including the Southeastern Conference championship game, Peach Bowl and College Football Playoff national championship game.

For the Falcons’ first season in their new home, the roof was open only for the first home regular-season game against Green Bay.

Falcons CEO Rich McKay said on Jan. 24 the plan was to have more games played with the roof “fully operational.”

“Fully operational means you will see us go to much more of an open configuration as we designed at the beginning,” McKay said. “When it’s ready to go, we’ll be open depending on weather.”

Ongoing work on the roof delayed the 2017 opening of the stadium by about a month. Atlanta United used Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium as its temporary home for the inaugural season in 2017 before moving to the new stadium.

The stadium will host the men’s NCAA Final Four in 2020.

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