Hernandez not thinking about Van Gaal
Manchester United striker insists he is only concerned about beating the Dutch when the two sides clash in the last 16
Javier Hernandez insisted yesterday that the pairing of Holland and Mexico in the last 16 of this World Cup is not simply an opportunity for him to impress his new club manager, Louis van Gaal.
Speaking after scoring one of the goals which set up the encounter, the Manchester United forward didn’t need reminding when it was pointed out to him who would be in the opposition technical area.
“Yes, it’s him next. I know,” he smiled. “But he is the Dutch manager and I am a Mexico player, so there is nothing else.”
If Hernandez were looking to register his qualities with the new boss, he could not do better than replicate his effort against Croatia in Recife last night. It was the classic Hernandez performance. The Mexican manager Miguel Herrera sent the forward on a substitute midway through the second half, noting that his opponents were leaving increasing gaps at the back as they pressed for required victory. And the United man’s counter attacking prowess paid speedy dividends.
He was involved in the build up to the first goal and scored the second, his movement and pace causing the hapless Croats endless problems. Up in the stands, among the thousands of celebrating Mexicans who had travelled south to cheer on the team, chucking their sombreros into the air, was Hernandez’s grandfather.
“Not many people can say their granddad was there to watch them score in the World Cup,” he beamed.
But he was anxious to quash the theory put to him that a goal here in Brazil must do the world of good for his confidence, jarred as it was by a season of stop-start disappointment in the Premier League.
“No, my confidence was there,” he said. “If I did not have confidence, I would not be here at the World Cup, I would not have come on, I would not have the faith of Miguel, I would not have scored a goal. If I had lost confidence during this complicated period, I would not be here.”
He then added, in perhaps a veiled allusion to Van Gaal’s predecessor at Old Trafford, David Moyes: “There have been very few people who have lost confidence in me, but not me and not the people close to me.”
One of those close to him is Herrera. The Mexican manager has restored morale in a squad that appeared to be on the verge of disintegration eighteen months ago. Now they have progressed from the group stage second on goal difference behind Brazil. A position that would have been improved, according to the manager, had they not suffered from some poor refereeing decisions.
“We’re hurting with the referees,” said Herrera. “We lose goals and don’t get penalties. Two penalties we should have had today. And it seems to me yellow cards are much easier to earn if you’re Mexican.”
One of the cards that were flourished in his team’s direction against Croatia has ruled his captain Rafael Marquez out of the game against the Dutch. Mind, if Herrera needs any advice on how to counter the most potent attacking weapon in the Dutch side, he need only ask Hernandez. After all, the player has spent a long time on the bench over the past couple of seasons studying his United team mate Robin van Persie.
“Actually it will be great to see him,” he said of the pair’s meeting on Sunday in Fortaleza. “We have spent two good years together and we won a league together. He is one of the best in the world and it will be nice to see him.”
It will be even nicer if Mexico spring the surprise of the tournament and win.
Croatia 1-3 Mexico
World Cup 2014