Manchester United have an FA Cup final to look forward to on Saturday, but their inconsistent Premier League form saw the three-time European champions miss out on Champions League qualification for the second time in the last three years.
Louis van Gaal has made many strange calls as United manager with varying degrees of success, from converting the excellent Daley Blind into a centre-back all the way to vetoing a move for the club’s long-time transfer target and Bayern Munich-bound Renato Sanches.
However, his decision to offload Javier Hernandez was a serious error of judgement and has to be one of biggest mistakes Van Gaal has made during his tenure at Old Trafford.
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Amazing season for Hernandez
Chicharito was a huge fans' favourite at Old Trafford and supporters were left very disgruntled, first when he was loaned out to Real Madrid for the 2014-15 campaign and then when he was sold to Bayer Leverkusen last September.
After admitting that he would have stayed at United had Van Gaal guaranteed him regular first-team football, the lethal Mexican striker has gone on to make a huge impact in Germany. Hernandez scored 26 goals in all competitions, including 17 in the German top-flight, a tally which was only bettered by Thomas Muller, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Robert Lewandowski.
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The 27-year-old picked up three consecutive Bundesliga Player of the Month awards from November to January and to add insult to injury, his performances helped Leverkusen to a third-placed league finish and automatic qualification for next year’s Champions League.
Since leaving United, Hernandez has also re-established himself in the Mexico national team and bagged himself a goal as his country safely progressed through the first stage of CONCACAF qualification for the 2018 World Cup.
Hernandez’s United record
Whenever the little Mexican was given an opportunity to play at United, he proved that he can score goals on a regular basis and so his amazing first season in German football should come as no surprise to anyone.
Chicharito, who started the 2011 Champions League Final under Sir Alex Ferguson, managed at least 12 goals in each of his first three seasons with United, including 20 in the 2010-11 title-winning campaign.
What does Hernandez think?
Van Gaal told Hernandez he had a “one percent chance” of playing up front for United last term but despite this, the Leverkusen man feels that the 64-year-old has what it takes to succeed at Old Trafford.
In April, as per Sky Sports News, he described Van Gaal as a “really good manager”, he said he was appreciative of the Dutchman’s honesty and insisted that both time and results will determine the manager’s future.
The striker also believes that there will never be another manager like Sir Alex, under who he flourished. Hernandez enjoyed a good personal relationship with Ferguson and remains in contact with his former boss despite departing from United.
Poor decision from Van Gaal
Van Gaal continually claims that his current squad lacks pace, creativity and goals in attack, with French forward Anthony Martial and teenager Marcus Rashford probably being the only exceptions.
In Hernandez, United had an intelligent, instinctive, pacey striker with incredible movement and ability to find space in the box. Following his fantastic season at Leverkusen, letting the natural-born goalscorer leave the club now has to be regarded as a very costly decision indeed.