Football: Freedom under Mourinho led to Spain call-up, says rejuvenated Herrera

Manchester United's Ander Herrera and manager Jose Mourinho during Manchester United's match against Stoke City on Oct 2, 2016.
Manchester United's Ander Herrera and manager Jose Mourinho during Manchester United's match against Stoke City on Oct 2, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Midfielder Ander Herrera has thanked Jose Mourinho for giving him the licence to express himself and credited the Manchester United manager's tactics for his first call-up to the Spain football squad.

The 27-year-old has flourished in the holding midfield role as he has been a regular feature under Mourinho, scoring once in eight appearances in all competitions this season.

"Mourinho encourages me to do it. Mourinho gives you more freedom as a player," Herrera told the British media.

"He wants the player's instinct to come through... he tells us that if that instinct guides us on the pitch then we should try things."

Herrera was also keen to repay the faith Mourinho has showed in him, after initially struggling to get selected under former manager Louis van Gaal, while he also hoped to seal his place in the national team in the build-up to the 2018 World Cup.

"I know that in the two years under Van Gaal I was not in the United team enough to be called up," he added.

"Now with Mourinho I'm feeling good. He is putting faith in me and giving me that chance to play regularly in a top side. Now I have to show that I deserve to stay in the United XI and deserve to keep getting the call to join the Spain squad."

Sixth-placed United take on arch-rivals Liverpool, who are fourth in the Premier League, at Anfield in their next fixture on Oct 17.