Hernandez 'back to his best'

  • Last Updated: December 28 2012, 19:45 GMT

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Javier Hernandez has rediscovered his debut season form.

Hernandez celebrates his winner against Newcastle
Hernandez celebrates his winner against Newcastle

The Mexican took his tally to 10 goals for the campaign with his last-minute winner in Manchester United's Boxing Day thriller with Newcastle.

It is exactly half the number Hernandez recorded in that stellar first season at Old Trafford, a figure he was unable to match last term when he only found the net on 12 occasions.

With Wayne Rooney missing Hernandez filled in brilliantly, tormenting the Newcastle defence on numerous occasions, and coming close three times before finally getting on the end of Michael Carrick's cross to seal a momentous win.

The 24-year-old's display merely underlined how much Hernandez has benefited from a complete summer's rest after Ferguson blocked his call-up to the gold medal-winning Olympic squad.

"He has been doing it all season," said Ferguson.

"Every time Javier has played he has contributed. He has got 10 goals now and that is despite not playing every week.

"On Wednesday he could have scored four or five."

There have been suggestions Hernandez is unhappy with his role in United's season and further rumours about the potential for a bid from Real Madrid.

Given his background, such a move would probably be quite attractive.

In all his public statements though, Hernandez has professed a willingness to keep battling for his place and acknowledgements of the strength Ferguson has within his squad.

And the Scot also reports a near-perfect attitude on the training ground too.

"Javier's effort and enthusiasm to play is absolutely fantastic," he said.

"He is a great example to anybody who wants to be a footballer. He is exactly the same in training and gives 100% in every session.

"It is refreshing when you get a young man with that attitude to playing football."

Yet, even with Wayne Rooney absent with a knee injury, Hernandez cannot be guaranteed a start against West Brom at Old Trafford tomorrow.

Ferguson is concerned about the draining effects a sticky pitch on Wednesday may have on a striker who relies on his explosive pace.

"Javier must have run about 20 miles against Newcastle," said Ferguson.

"He never stopped."

Ferguson expects to have alternatives, with both Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck likely to be fit after missing the Newcastle encounter through injury and illness respectively.

There is also a possibility Shinji Kagawa will be involved too.

The Japan star enjoyed a fantastic first few weeks following his summer move from Borussia Dortmund.

However, he seemed to have lost his way even before he suffered the knee injury against Braga in October that has condemned him to an unwanted spell on the sidelines.

Even his comeback has been delayed slightly, although in pushing Ferguson into letting him do a public training session at Old Trafford when his team-mates were doing their warm-up ahead of that Newcastle encounter, Kagawa was signalling his well-being.

"Shinji wanted to do it and he is getting close," said Ferguson.

"We will see what he is like but I could put him on the bench tomorrow depending on who we have available."

Ferguson needs to get his team selection right because West Brom have not given the impression of being a team likely to cough up goals as easily as Newcastle did.

Many pundits' tips for relegation, the Baggies have responded to Steve Clarke's first managerial role more positively than seemed likely.

Yet Ferguson is not surprised.

He has charted Clarke's progress since he was a young player at St Mirren. And he always felt his fellow Scot had the qualities to succeed.

"We have to look at West Brom in a different way since Steve Clarke has gone there," said Ferguson.

"It is his first spell as a manager but he had fantastic experience as an assistant at various clubs, Newcastle, West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool and has gathered a lot of great knowledge from working with great managers like Bobby Robson and Jose Mourinho.

"West Brom's performance level has been terrific and the interesting thing about their team selection the other day is that they left out two of their best players - Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long - for tomorrow's game.

"It tells you the trust and confidence he has in the players he picks.

"They are playing good football and are just a couple of points off the top four, so it will be a good test for us."


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