Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Man United 3 Wolves 2

A new Man United legend?

  • Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez has been tipped to become a goalscoring legend at Old Trafford by Gary Neville.

    Hernandez scored a goal in each half to give United their first away Barclays Premier League win of the season at Stoke on Sunday and could be given another chance to impress in the Carling Cup tie with Wolves on Tuesday night.

    United's lack of investment over the summer was one of the reasons behind Wayne Rooney's desire to leave the club last week but the £7million they spent on the Guadalajara striker nicknamed 'Chicharito' is beginning to look like very good business.

    Sir Alex Ferguson's side rarely looked at their best at the Britannia Stadium and were indebted to the 22-year-old Mexican's eye for goal.

    He opened the scoring with a cute back header and then found himself in the right place to steer home Patrice Evra's cross-shot minutes after Tuncay had hit a superb equaliser for the Potters.

    Neville said: "He's [Hernandez] a good person. He works very hard, incredibly hard.

    "He's got all the attributes. He'll score lots and lots of goals for Man United.

    "When Tuncay scored that goal I thought 'Here we go again we're going to draw another game'.

    "It would have been, not a disaster for us, but a real body blow for us. I think in the first half we could have had two or three goals and been further in front.

    "But when Chichi scored that second everyone was massively relieved. It's a great three points for us and can hopefully kickstart our away season."

    Neville endured a testing afternoon as he made his 600th appearance for the club and has admitted that he was lucky not to be sent off.

    The former England right-back was booked by referee Andre Marriner for clattering into the back of winger Matthew Etherington and then carved the same player down three minutes before half-time.

    The stadium expected red but Marriner let Neville off - much to the displeasure of Stoke boss Tony Pulis.

    Neville admitted: "I was lucky not to be sent off.

    "I didn't think the first one was a booking - I got the ball - and then with the second one the referee's gone a little easy on me, to be honest."

    Ferguson is expected to make changes for the cup tie, with the likes of Tomasz Kuszczak, Anderson, Michael Carrick, Darron Gibson and Chris Smalling in line for a return.

Source: and


  • “When he took his chance, it was like he was shelling peas. It was so natural to him.” That was the reaction of Sir Alex Ferguson, his face aglow in appreciation of Javier Hernandez’s winner against Valencia in the Estadio Mestalla, where the young Mexican monikered ‘Chicharito’ showed his predatory instincts by taking Kiko Macheda’s pass with a velvet first touch, before firing a clinical, low shot inside the post.

    A noteworthy front man during his own playing days, Sir Alex recognises a player geared for goals. And his claim that the Reds have signed a natural finisher holds water. The third generation of his family to represent Mexico at a World Cup, Chicharito is clearly a thoroughbred goal-getter.

    Yet along the way, including in the early days of his OT career, Hernandez has had to be patient. Just 18 months ago, at the age of 20, he found himself out on the fringes of the Chivas first team and experiencing enough self doubt to genuinely consider quitting football and becoming a full-time student. After more than two years without a goal for his boyhood club, despite a regime of hard training and clean living, he was stuck on the bench. For the first time, he was on the verge of being derailed from a future that had always looked so certain.

    “He was weaned on football since being in his cot,” says his grandfather, Tomas Balcazar, a Mexican football legend and a goalscorer for El Tri at the 1954 World Cup – and whose son-in-law, Chicharito’s father Javier Hernandez Gutierrez, was part of Mexico’s squad at World Cup ’86. “We used to go to our plot of land near the airport and we played little games of football,” recalls Balcazar. “Chicharito used to play with us older folks and he used to slide-tackle us and take the ball. It was obvious he liked the game. He always had a serious inclination to be playing football.”

    Chicharito was enlisted in Chivas’ youth system aged seven, rising through their ranks in a spell that included a stint as a matchday ball-boy for the first team. Professor Marco Fabian, the striker’s former youth coach, says his talents were soon recognised. “He was a hardworking boy with a lot of the qualities you see today: his explosive speed, his love of hitting the back of net, and his goal-poaching ability. He was a very hard-working player who always gave 100 per cent in training.

    “He always demanded a lot from the other players. He was a winner. Even a draw would upset him. After one defeat, when he was 16 or 17, Javier spoke in front of the team and said he wasn’t going to accept losing. He said that despite his dad having a good career, he wanted to win and be a star off his own bat. Javier always had winning on his mind.”

    Naturally for one so resolutely focused, Chicharito was also burdened by impatience. “The boy was always in such a rush to be playing football,” recalls Fabian. “One time when he arrived at training, he got out of the car so quickly that he fell over in his rush to get on to the pitch. Even as he got older, he was always very keen and restless, and when things didn’t go his way he got exasperated.”

    That irritation surfaced soon after Chicharito’s first-team debut for Chivas, in September 2006. He’d scored in a 4-0 romp over Necaxa, but the 18-year-old’s form then dipped. He dropped out of the first-team picture, featuring for Chivas Coras de Tepic and Club Deportivo Tapatio – essentially their reserve teams – in Mexico’s Second Division. He played a starring role for both, but in early 2009, after two years without a senior goal, he joined his family and agent for a day of soul-searching. “He doubted himself,” says his father, Javier senior. “He doubted he was capable of playing in the First Division. We told him he had to be patient, but as a young player he was impatient. We talked to him about being persistent and told him that, in time, everything would come.”

    The striker placed great faith in the opinions of his nearest and dearest – even at 20, he still lived in the family home – and their blanket reassurance did the trick. He played his way back into contention for Chivas and soon began scoring again. A drip became a flood, with 11 goals in 17 games during the 2009 Apertura tournament, and he was selected for Mexico’s senior team for the first time for a friendly against Colombia. Thrown on as a substitute with his side two goals down, Chicharito was played clean through, but alertly squared for Paul Aguilar to finish.

    National coach Javier Aguirre, a former team-mate of Chicharito’s father, kept Hernandez in his squads and the goals duly flowed. They continued for Chivas, too, and soon Chicharito’s profile had gone global. On 1 April this year, the New York Times ran a feature on the forward, titled: ‘Chicharito could be Mexico’s next big thing.’ The story wasn’t news to United though; the Reds had been tailing Hernandez since October 2009.

    And when an increasing number of European scouts began appearing at Chivas’ games, United’s head scout Jim Lawlor travelled to Mexico for a sustained look. A three-week trip took in a string of matches for club and country, Lawlor promptly gave the move his blessing, and the deal was struck so quickly and conducted so covertly that the striker and his father were the only family members who knew what was going on. “They tricked us,” laughs Chicharito’s grandfather. “They told us they were going on holiday to Atlanta!” In fact, the pair were in a private box at Old Trafford watching United’s Champions League exit to Bayern Munich.

    “The next day, the phone rang and they said: ‘Turn the television on, you’ll see something very important,’” continues Balcazar. “We turned it on, and the first thing that we saw was the lad’s mug! Then we saw the badge of Manchester United. We just couldn’t believe it.”

    The rest of football, like Balcazar, was dumbstruck, not least for the curious timing of the deal. United had planned to wait until the summer of 2010 to make a bid, but once it became clear Hernandez was on course for Mexico’s World Cup squad, the United manager dared not risk either losing the player or allowing his value to sky-rocket.

    It proved to be a wise move. Strikes against France and Argentina in South Africa showed glimpses of Chicharito’s finishing, while his movement and link-up play also caught the eye. So did his speed: Hernandez had been clocked at 19.98 miles per hour, making him the fastest player at the tournament.

    In appropriately hot-footed fashion, Hernandez quickly joined his new colleagues on the Houston leg of United’s pre-season tour, where a debut goal against the MLS All Stars further fanned the flames. His next stop, a return to Mexico as Chivas hosted United, turned up the temperature yet another notch.

    “The future of an entire nation is at your feet,” hailed a giddy billboard outside a signing session conducted by Chicharito at a Nike store, the day before the game. And despite the event being held on a Thursday afternoon, with little promotion, more than 1,000 delirious fans attended – to the astonishment of store manager, Rosalinda Galvez. “The amount of people there was incredible,” she says. “Sales went through the roof and we sold out of almost everything. I’ve organised many signings at the store, but I’ve never seen anything like that.”

    Clad in a Chivas shirt for the final time, Hernandez took just 10 minutes to open the scoring against his new club, before he switched sides at halftime, symbolising the next chapter of his journey. Another goal on his competitive Reds debut (albeit with an air of slapstick) helped beat Chelsea in the Community Shield and drew more headlines. Ryan Giggs was moved to comment on the impression made by Hernandez on his new team-mates.

    “There are some players who are just born goalscorers,” Giggs said. “I’ve seen them over the years. When they face a goalkeeper in a one-on-one they’re ice cool, and I’ve seen that in Javier already. With the way he approaches his football and the way he plays, he’s going to score a lot of goals for us. I’ve seen over the years many goalscorers become legends for Manchester United… hopefully that can become the case with Javier.”

    Displacing Messrs Rooney and Berbatov as first-choice strikers is no easy task, and Sir Alex has confirmed that extra gym work is required for Chicharito to embrace the rigours of regular Premier League and Champions League football. But, like any good predator, he’s prepared to wait, primed to strike at the merest sniff of an opportunity.

    Gary Neville has seen every young talent on the Old Trafford production line for two decades: from the days when he played in the same youth team as David Beckham and Paul Scholes, through the arrival of the then teenagers Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney and now to the emergence of United's new young stars Federico Macheda and Nani.

    So when the veteran full-back, not one to indulge in obsequious praise, says that Javier Hernandez is one of the club's "most exciting young prospects for some time", it is worth taking note.

    The 22-year-old Mexican's weekend two goals at Stoke City on Sunday not only ensured United did not slip seven points adrift of Chelsea with less than a quarter of the season gone, they may also have prompted some deep thought for Sir Alex Ferguson and Wayne Rooney. On form, Hernandez is more entitled to a place in United's attack than Rooney and seems more suited to partnering Dimitar Berbatov.

    Neville is too canny an operator to get drawn into such a comparison but he was happy to laud Hernandez, in particular his attitude, which has always been as important at Ferguson's United as ability.

    "You obviously have talent when you come to this club, but his attitude to work is phenomenal," Neville said. "He's tough, he's grown up in Mexican country, but what sets him apart for me is his work rate every single day.

    "He's got the right attributes and his talent. At this club you get rewarded if you work hard and he deserved his goals against Stoke. He will score lots and lots of goals for this club. He is one of the most exciting young prospects we've had for some time."

    Hernandez grew up in Guadalajara, a prosperous city twice the size of Manchester, in a family of professional footballers. Both his maternal grandfather and father went to the World Cup finals with Mexico. He joined CD Guadalajara aged nine, making his senior debut at 18. He was not capped by Mexico until he was 21 but has quickly established himself by scoring 11 international goals in 2010, including strikes against the Netherlands, France, Argentina and Spain.

    United brought forward his signing once they realised he would go to the World Cup but, when his £7m transfer was announced in April, it seemed choreographed to deflect attention from United's Champions League exit to Bayern Munich the night before. If so, it did not succeed and few were impressed. They are now.

    Hernandez has looked good from the moment he took the field as a substitute in the Community Shield. His movement is excellent and he seems to have a priceless knack for scoring goals, be it off his face, as on debut, or the back of his head, as against Stoke.

    He has already overtaken the younger Macheda and his emergence probably spells an end to Michael Owen's time at United. The question now is what impact it will have on Rooney, who has not scored from open play this season.

    Such are the campaign's demands, Ferguson should be able to juggle his strikers without overly upsetting them, at least until the business end of the season, by which time Rooney may be back in form. Early indications suggest Rooney will also be back in favour in the dressing room, despite casting aspersions on the inhabitants' quality.

    Neville said: "The right thing has happened for Wayne, his career, for his life. He's made the right decision and the club keep a great player – someone who works so hard for the team every week. It will take time to settle down but the reality is, time heals."

    Owen may get a rare opportunity in the Carling Cup tie against Wolves at Old Trafford tonight and may even be partnered with Hernandez. The former England striker returned to training last week after recovering from his latest injury problem, and will look to take up where he left off in the competition, when he scored two goals against Scunthorpe United in the previous round.


Last night Chico scored yet again, netting a late 90 minute winner against Wolves in the Carling Cup.

What a second half! It was brilliant! Too bad the stadium was half empty! ( Ooo! Sign of times? )

  • Defender Wes Brown hailed "new cult hero" Javier Hernandez after his late goal took Manchester United into the Carling Cup quarter-finals.

    Hernandez, who scored twice in the 2-1 Barclays Premier League defeat of Stoke on Saturday, netted the winner in the 3-2 success against Wolves.

    And Brown said afterwards: "He's got a great attitude to the game. He's a player who wants to learn and score goals and is good at it.
    "He tries his hardest and deserved his goal at the end. He's a new cult hero and I'm sure he can keep it going."

    The defender added on Sky Sports: "There were a lot of changes tonight. A few young lads came in...but we're definitely going to try and win this competition again.

    "I think the future is bright, a lot of players who played tonight have not played many games and they've got a lot to prove in the future."

    Team-mate Park Ji-sung added on Hernandez: "He's unbelievable. We saw he's a natural goalscorer - it's good to have 'Chicharito'."

    Sir Alex Ferguson added: "It was a very open game in the second half, Wolves played very well and it was a really good cup tie."

    On Hernandez, he added: "They tend to build heroes quickly here but he's justifying the praise at the moment.

    "He's very professional, the first out on the training ground and the last one back in every day and he's rightly getting a lot of praise for his goalscoring.

    "When he gets a chance you know he's going to take it. His touch, control of the ball and vision are improving and that's because the training is intense - we care about it and making sure the players do improve."

    Ferguson believes picking up English is "essential" for a young overseas player to make an impact in England and highlighted the fact Bebe is not as fluent.

    Bebe was also on the scoresheet, opening the scoring with a deflected cross.

    Ferguson added: "He did the right thing and attacked the defender. It was either going to be a good cross or a deflection into the net.

    "I think everyone is very positive. We work hard at producing young players, they're definitely the future of the club."