Hernandez: It was time to think of myself

Ian Watson

Javier Hernandez says Louis van Gaal was “honest” before the striker’s Man Utd exit but the time had come to look after himself.

The striker scored 37 goals in 103 Premier League games over six seasons at Old Trafford before Bayer Leverkusen swooped last summer to sign him for £7.3million.

Since heading to the Bundesliga, Hernandez has thrived, scoring 21 goals in 24 appearances, leading many to question Van Gaal’s decision to sell the Mexican, especially in light of United’s goalscoring woes this season.

Chicarito earned himself a reputation as a super sub at United, but the 27-year-old insists he did not enjoy sacrificing his desire to start more games but he always remains professional for the sake of the team. When Van Gaal told him in the summer that his opportunities would be limited, Hernandez knew it was time to look elsewhere.

“If the coach had told me I would be his No. 1 striker, I would never have left,” Hernandez told The Times. “But I wanted to play.

‘I looked for the team for three years. I focused on being there, on working, on being a good team-mate, on being ready. [It was the time] to look for myself, to look at my own goals.

‘The fans wanted me to stay, but they wanted me to stay as a back-up. I did not want to wait any more.

‘It is easy to say you don’t want to train, to tweet or put a picture on Instagram because you are not playing, to fight with a manager.’

“The easy path is for people who don’t care. Some people fight in a bad way but that is not how I see the world. It is harder to be professional, to be patient, but that is what I like.

“You have to swallow it. You have to keep working even without something coming. You have to be quiet even when you feel like shouting.”

Hernandez does not hold a grudge against Van Gaal but when it became clear that he would always play second fiddle to Wayne Rooney, the striker knew it was time to leave Old Trafford.

“He was honest,” Hernandez said. “In the first few weeks, he spoke to me and said he saw a good future, that I would have more chances than normal. It made me feel I could play.

“But then, after the start of the season, he told me he was thinking Wazza would be his No.1.”

“He said that I would be No.2 but the reality was that if Wazza got injured or was out for any reason, when he came back, he would play.

“It was 99 per cent likely I would not be his first choice. He was clear, that was his idea, and we have to be respectful of that. We decided that if a good offer came, I would take it.”