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Chicharito describes the pressure playing for Real Madrid was much more than at Manchester United

Former Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez spent six years at the Old Trafford club, signing for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in 2010 and leaving in 2016, then under the management of Jose Mourinho. After falling down the pecking order at the club during David Moyes’ time at the club, Chicharito was loaned to Real Madrid in 2014.

Louis van Gaal managed United at the time the Mexican left the club, albeit temporarily and after not actually setting the world alight at the Spanish club, the player returned to the Theatre of Dreams. In Madrid, Chicharito played 33 times, scoring nine goals and nine assists, winning the FIFA Club World Cup – despite not playing in the tournament.

Hernandez stated that the pressure at the Madrid club was much more intense than it was at United and the scrutiny was nothing like he had seen before. I guess that is why the supporters of the club are the way they are, making or breaking the career of a player based on a single appearance, which is something they have been known to do.

Having played for both United and Madrid, Hernandez was asked in an interview with Rio Ferdinand, a United legend, to describe the differences between the two clubs which led to the player talking about the way of life in Spain which led to a more intense focus one him during his time at the club. Hernandez said:

“I think it’s the culture. It’s just a description, it’s not something that I want to make less or make more any of the clubs.

“It’s just a description, you know how the way of life in England is a little bit more calm, a little bit more close, a little bit more in that way.

“In Spain and Portugal it is more the Latino way. It’s the culture, it’s more open, they’re more exposed.

“In United I never felt in the outside that it was completely as massive as it really was.

“But you know not many fans outside, not many press, not leaking news, you can walk a lot in Manchester, they respect you more.

“In Spain they respect you but they are more like my country they want things from you they want the picture they want to grab you.”

Hernandez fell out of favour with Moyes, which led to the same by Van Gaal, selling the player Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen for around £7.3 million. It was a shame it had to end that way but he’d gone from scoring 20 goals in his first season, 12 in his second, 18 in his third to nine in his fourth, scoring no goals in his fifth and sixth seasons at the club.

At Leverkusen, Hernandez started to show his striking ability once again, scoring 39 goals and nine assists in 76 appearances at the club. He stayed at the club for two seasons before returning to the Premier League, signing for West Ham United for £16 million, before Moyes managed the club. Chicharito scored 17 goals and four assists in 63 appearances.

On deadline day at the start of the 2019/20 season, Chicharito left West Ham for Sevilla, signing a three-year contract. He played 15 times for the club, scoring three goals. In January 2020, the Mexican striker signed a three-year contract with MLS side LA Galaxy, becoming the highest paid player in the league. He has played twice so far.

Chicharito was a poacher at United and a great player to bring off the bench with the club needing a goal. I cannot help but wonder if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had replaced Ferguson, could he have continued his form as a top striker in the game, helping United on the road to glory again. Granted, it never happened but many will not argue his ability.

My Favourite Three: Sir Alex Ferguson signings; Valencia, Hernandez, Smith

Sir Alex Ferguson signed some magnificent players during his reign of Manchester United and some right duds. In 26-years plus, you could say he had an eye for a good player, with some just not adapting to the team, the league, the country or even the continent as many high-profile players have in effect failed at the club, which is not Ferguson’s fault and it might not actually be the player’s fault – just being one of those things. During my time as a Red Devil – I will be 21 this year – I have seen some good players come to the club, and the three below are some of my favourites. I was unable to choose an actual favourite of mine as another writer had chosen him; Cristiano Ronaldo, but the three below are favourites, not necessarily the top three, but close.

Antonio Valencia

The Ecuadorian winger was signed in 2009, the summer Cristiano Ronaldo left United, signing from Wigan Athletic for a £16 million fee, signing a four-year contract at the time. Valencia was not Ronaldo but was a player who helped the club get over losing possibly the best player in the world at the time. Valencia made his debut playing in the Audi Cup, also scoring in the 2-1 victory over Boca Juniors – making his competitive debut in the FA Community Shield against Chelsea, replacing Nani in the 62nd minute with the score 2-2 with Chelsea winning 4-1 on penalties. Valencia was given the number 25 shirt, a number he still wears today, after a stint wearing the number seven, which seemed to make him lose his form, a shirt number which seems to be cursed as each player wearing the number after Ronaldo have not done all that well, which is probably a coincidence rather than something else. Over the last few seasons, Valencia have moved further back now playing as a right-back and was deservedly named Manchester United Player’s Player of the Year for last season, showing his ability on and off the ball, just one of the reasons why he is one of my favourite players, at least during my time as a Manchester United supporter.

Javier Hernandez

Javier Hernandez or Chicharito as he is better known, meaning Little Pea, was probably one of the bargains Sir Alex Ferguson signed for Manchester United. October 2009 was when United were made aware of the Mexican striker, pushing forward for a deal with was agreed in April 2010, many supporters not knowing who this young lad from Mexico was. The deal was secret, even his agent and family members were unaware as to what the player was doing. The former Chivas Guadalajara striker was granted a work permit at the end of May 2010, making his move official on the 1st July. part of the deal was that United would open Guadalajara’s new stadium whilst on the club’s pre-season tour with Chicharito starting for his old club, scoring and switching sides at half-time, seeing his new club beaten 3-2. His competitive debut for United came in the FA Community Shield at Wembley again against Chelsea but with United winning 3-1 with the Mexican coming on in the second half, scoring a goal which came off his own face – pretty memorable. Hernandez scored 59 goals in 157 appearances for United, most of the time coming off the bench. He was frustrating at times, but most players are. Chicharito was sold by Louis van Gaal to Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2015, which might have been a mistake at the time, Jose Mourinho certainly thinks so, but it is one the club now needed to get over in a bid to rebuild the fallen side of recent years.

Alan Smith

Alan Smith, many will wonder why he is a favourite of mine. I liked him when I was growing up, scoring many goals for Leeds United, a team we all love to hate, but as a player, he was decent and had his value, something he really did not fully meet at United, but he did his bit. Smith signed for just £7 million in the summer of 2004, a small fee considering the transfers of today, but at the time it was a big fee for a player. Smith scored ten times for United in his first season, a season hampered by injury, which was to become the story of his Manchester United career. Ferguson turned Smith into a midfielder, before turning him back into a striker after Ruud van Nistelrooy was sold to Real Madrid in the summer of 2006, with Smith eventually leaving for Newcastle United the following year. In a defeat to Liverpool in February 2006, Smith broke his leg and dislocated his ankle after a tackle by John Arne Riise, meaning he would miss the League Cup final, Smith was out for nine months after undergoing surgery the next day. United beat Wigan 4-0 in the League Cup final with the players wearing shirts with ‘For you Smudge’, Smiths nickname when they lifted the trophy. Smith made a total of 93 appearances for United, scoring 12 goals, ten of those in his first season. Not a great return from the player, but he did excite me whilst I was growing up. I am sure you have favourite players who were not superstars too.

copyright: JW