Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera has rubbished suggestions he refused to move into defence to cover for Chris Smalling’s injury in Saturday’s draw at Leicester.
The United centre-back pulled up with a groin injury late in the second half, effectively reducing the visitors, who had used all their subs, to 10 men.
Despite his obvious discomfort, Smalling was bizarrely tasked with marking eventual goalscorer Harry Maguire despite his obvious lack of mobility.
Moments earlier, Phil Jones appeared to be seen trying to reorganise his defence, pointing at Victor Lindelof – a centre-back by trade but playing at right-back to cover for Antonio Valencia’s absence – to shift into a central role.
That would have involved another player, Herrera, moving into right-back – though Gary Neville claimed in commentary that the Spaniard refused and even tried to get Henrikh Mkhitaryan to do it instead.
But now Herrera has taken to Twitter to give his version of events, and clearly feels he is being made a scapegoat.
He wrote: ‘Happy Christmas to everyone, including the ones that try to invent stories that never happened #sofunny #trytobehappyanddontlye [sic]’
Manager Jose Mourinho had suggested he tried to get Ashley Young to make the tactical tweaks needed to compensate for Smalling’s injury, though the message did not get communicated to the rest of the team.
Speaking on the Gary Neville Podcast, meanwhile, the former United defender explained how he saw things unfold: ‘Smalling has got to flag up as an experienced defender that he’s struggling, get someone else into the centre. It didn’t happen for two or three minutes.
‘Then Phil Jones recognised it had happened and tried to reorganise – as I saw it, Ander Herrera refused to go to right-back and told Henrik Mkhitaryan to go back there.
‘All of a sudden Smalling sits down on the floor and then goes off the pitch and then comes back on at centre-back. He ends up picking up Harry Maguire.
‘You can’t believe the disorganisation and lack of leadership shown by Manchester United at the end of that game in a game they should have won. Jose will be furious when he watches that back.’
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