Ander Herrera showed the kind of form in February that had Manchester United fans puzzled by his constant presence on the bench as opposed to the starting line-up.
Herrera went on to start the next three league games since the 3-1 win plus the FA Cup Fifth Round victory against Preston, in which he opened the scoring for United.
Despite defeat to Swansea, Herrera was impressive, once again popping up on the edge of the area with a goal, similar to his opening strike for the reds against QPR back in September.
It took Herrera to five goals for the season, a stellar tally given he was barely in the team for the entire winter period.
Stats from Squawka show the quality Herrera has in his game, the midfielder made a total of 194 passes during the month of February with an 89% accuracy, leading to him being named the club’s player of the month by the fans.
But Herrera has also shown a different side of his game. At the start of the season he was happy to get stuck in and help Daley Blind with his defensive duties and Herrera made nine interceptions during the month, showing he can play a deeper role instead of living the Dutchman exposed.
With Michael Carrick returning momentarily against Newcastle on Wednesday night, van Gaal may return to default and play a more defensive player alongside Blind given United’s defence is still woefully exposed to the counter attack, as proven on several occasions on Wednesday.
A freak rib injury to Herrera cost him his place in the team back in October, just as Carrick was returning from his initial injury and Marouane Fellaini hit form and soon became a vital cog in van Gaal’s plans at Old Trafford.
But given his popularity among the fans, eye for goals from midfield and general talent, it would be a brave man to drop Herrera given he is one of few in-form players at the club right now.