Ander Herrera is not thinking about the top four despite Manchester United racking up a fourth straight win and finally keeping a clean sheet.
The decision to sack Jose Mourinho continues to pay dividends for the Old Trafford giants, with caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer matching Sir Matt Busby’s record of winning his first four league matches at the helm.
Substitute Romelu Lukaku and the sparkling Marcus Rashford did the damage in a 2-0 win at embattled Newcastle, cutting the gap to the Champions League spots down to six points.
United were an eye-watering 11 points off the pace when Mourinho was fired, but Herrera is not allowing his mind to wander from the here and now.
“When I saw we were maybe 12 points behind, I decided not to think about it, go game by game and that’s what we did,” the Spaniard told Press Association Sport
“That’s what I did at least, and things are going well, so I don’t want to change. I am not going to think about that. If we continue this run, we will be closer to the top four but it’s not something that kills my mind right now.
“(Newcastle) is not easy at all. I think we faced a very organised and very tough team.
“I think they’re going to stay in the Premier League for sure because I found them really, really tough. But we are in a good moment.
“Even when we are not playing great, we have the feeling that we can win the game.
“We control the game, we have the possession, we play in the opponent’s half and we have fantastic offensive players. Even the ones that were on the bench.
“For example, Romelu I think after 30 seconds he scored a goal or maybe less. Alexis (Sanchez) made a great assist, so I think we’re in really good form and we have to continue like this.
“This game is going to strengthen our bench players as well, Romelu and Alexis. We really need them so a lot of good things to take from today’s performance. But the next Premier League game is Tottenham and is going to be even tougher.”
The trip to Wembley certainly looks tough but United will head there on 13 January buoyed by only their third clean sheet of the Premier League campaign – a lack of shutouts that was grating on David De Gea, arguably the world’s best goalkeeper. “Very important for David,” Herrera said with a smile. “We wanted to make David happy because he was a little bit disappointed the last games.
“I had to cope with him after the game, killing my mind, telling me that he wanted a clean sheet and I’m happy for him as well because he got a clean sheet.”
De Gea is likely to be rested for Saturday’s FA Cup third-round clash against Championship strugglers Reading, just as Paul Pogba is expected to be.
The 25-year-old was marginalised by Mourinho but has started all four matches under Solskjaer, scoring and providing goals as well as making an impact off the field.
“He is very important for the club – (on) the pitch and out of the pitch as well,” Herrera said of Pogba, who limped out of St James’ Park on Wednesday night after some rough treatment.
“He’s playing really, really well. Not only with the ball. I think as soon as we lose the ball he is ready to defend, ready to help the team.
“He is playing very simple and effective in our half, and then when he is in the opponent’s half he has that magic to change the game, so we are really happy for him.
“I think Nemanja (Matic) and me today, or the other players, we have to help him to make him feel free and that’s what we’re doing.”