Ander Herrera: Accept Real Madrid defeat and aim to contend for the Premier League title

Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera has stated that the club’s focus has changed with the players looking to challenge for the Premier League title this coming season, which will start at Old Trafford at 16:00 BST on Sunday with West Ham United travelling up from the capital in the battle for three points. United’s first competitive match of the season ended in a 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in Skopje, Macedonia with the La Liga and UEFA Champions League holders lifting the UEFA Super Cup for the second time on two seasons. United were beaten by an offside goal scored by Casemiro in the 24th minute of the match with Isco doubling the lead seven minutes after the break. New summer signing Romelu Lukaku scored a consolation goal for United just after the hour mark.

Herrera was one of 13 players who played in the match to leave the Macedonian capital disappointed but the defeat to the best club in Europe and the World, being the holders of the La Liga title, the best team im Spain, the UEFA Champions League holders, now the holders of the Super Cup again, the best team in Europe and the holders of the FIFA Club World Cup, making them the best team in the world. The defeat should not ruin the clubs confidence ahead of the new season, as luckily United will not be facing a team with the skills, determination and breathtaking pace and ability as Real Madrid. Herrera, speaking to the official Manchester United website has suggested that United will still contend on four fronts this season; the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, the Carabao Cup and the Emirates FA Cup. The Spanish midfielder said:

“We have to accept Real deserve to be the winners. But we can take a lot of good things from this game. The Premier League starts on Sunday, there is no time to be upset, we want to be contenders for the title and we want to fight for every title this season. Last season, we won three trophies which is very good, but we didn’t fight for the Premier League. That’s our aim for this season and we have a very good squad. We are going to play in four competitions and we want to fight for all of them.

“In every position, we have two very good players, so I am optimistic for this season and let’s forget about tonight. I know it’s difficult because it’s a European trophy and that’s important for the club. But now the Premier League, then the Champions League will come, the FA Cup and the League Cup. We don’t want to give away any competition. We are going to fight for all of them and we are going to improve.

“We are ready and West Ham will be ready as well, because they have also played a pre-season and surely they are going to be fit as well. But we are playing at Old Trafford in front of our fans and we want to win the first game of the season. We have to respect them because they have a very good team, they have signed very good players. This season, I think the transfer window has gone good for them. They are going to be difficult to beat. Now is our chance to fight for the Premier League and we have to do it as well.”

Real Madrid were difficult opposition in Skopje on Tuesday evening but the defeat, which when all said and done was just a glorified pre-season friendly on a competitive stage with no plaudits to be gained other than winning a trophy. Herrera seemingly refused to feel downhearted about the defeat as United could take so much more from that match than the feeling of being punished. United were exposed, it gave them a problem area to fix, which can be done. Real Madrid are a top club, perhaps not the richest when it comes to money, but in terms of talent, they are streets ahead. Herrera concluded by saying:

“We played against the best team in the world right now. We have to accept that they have won the last two Champions Leagues but, even so, we have the feeling that we could have drawn the game. The game has gone for them for the small details. The first goal was offside which is very upsetting for us because, until that moment, we were not suffering too much.

“Since the first goal, they were the better team and we have to improve on that because we didn’t get that goal in a good way. For the future, we are going to improve on that. After the goal for 20 minutes or something like that, we suffered, we really suffered on the pitch. They had the control of the game.

“In the last five or 10 minutes of the first half, we came back again and we were the better team. In the second half after the goal of Isco, we really were the better team. We could have drawn the game with that chance of Marcus [Rashford], also the header of Paul [Pogba], the second ball of [Romelu] Lukaku’s.”

Manchester United face West Ham United in their opening match of the new Premier League season on Sunday which will make Mourinho’s side more determined to get a good result, their first three points in the bag and get ready for their second match of the season. Last season United had a great start to the season, lifting the FA Community Shield, then winning their first three Premier League matches, but then the season took a bad turn with three straight defeats of which United did not recover properly. This coming season needs to be so much different with United, the manager, the players and the supporters playing a part in pushing the club to the extreme and challenging the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal, battling for their first Premier League title in four years.