Ramping up his efforts to build Alexis Sanchez’s confidence as he endures a wretched run of form, midfield dynamo Ander Herrera has staged an awards ceremony at Carrington – with Sanchez given a special award for his recent efforts.
A source within the club described the event as “a bit awkward,” as Herrera produced what he called a “special effort” medal for the Chilean in the canteen before this morning’s training session.
It follows hot on the heels of his televised post-match pep-talk for the Chilean after United’s win at Chelsea in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Monday night. The Spaniard singled out Sanchez for praise despite another goalless appearance from the bench.
“I would like to speak also about Alexis, Andreas (Pereira) and Scott (McTominay), and the way they came into the game. A world-class player like Alexis and the way he fought, this is Manchester United and this is what we want!”
The former Athletic Bilbao midfielder was buzzing after a dominant personal performance, but still found time to give his struggling team-mate a pat on the head for running about aimlessly for 17 minutes. And when the team met up on Wednesday morning, he was sure to drive the point home.
“The lads were just waiting around for the coaches when Ander got them all gathered around Alexis”, the witness confirmed. “Hey, here he is! Who’s my special little soldier?” Herrera was reported as shouting when the 30-year-old arrived at the training ground.
“Come on guys, a big cheer for Alexis! He’s really doing his best. What a little smasher,” Herrera was quoted as saying before producing a medal from his boot, pinching Sanchez on the cheek and draping the over-sized award around his neck with a wink.
The recipient was said to have looked “confused” and “embarrassed”, but that didn’t stop Herrera from then lifting the diminutive forward on his shoulders and parading around the complex while talking loudly about how great he is.
And once training had concluded, Alexis was treated to a Happy Meal at a near-by drive-thru by his inspirational colleague.
With team-mates so supportive, it can only be a matter for time before Alexis turns around his precipitous decline in form.