Of all Louis van Gaal’s decisions last summer, perhaps the one Manchester United fans were most baffled and disappointed by was the decision to sell Javier Hernandez to Bayer Leverkusen for £7.3 million.
And in the weeks and month after Chicharito’s sale, frustration levels amongst the United faithful would only increase. In 24 games for the German club, the Mexico international has scored 21 goals.
But in an interview with The Times, Hernandez has admitted he would have stayed at Manchester United had Louis van Gaal made him a promise.
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“I was happy there,” the 27-year-old admitted. “If the coach had told me I would be his No 1 striker, I would never have left.
“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.”
Van Gaal made it clear Rooney was first choice
Hernandez played a key role for United during Sir Alex Ferguson’s final three seasons at Old Trafford but endured a frustrating campaign under David Moyes.
Van Gaal then made it clear to Hernandez that Wayne Rooney would be the team’s first-choice striker and the Mexican was subsequently loaned to Real Madrid for the season.
“[Van Gaal] said I would be No 2, but that the reality was that if Wazza got injured or was out for any reason, when he came back he would play [no matter how well I had done],” Hernandez added. “It was 99 per cent likely I would not be 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.”
Hernandez pleased to be playing again
Hernandez found starts hard to come by at the Bernabeu but still enjoyed some good moments - including scoring the winning goal against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals - before returning to Old Trafford last summer and then moving on to Leverkusen.
“It is that rhythm of playing that gives you confidence.” Hernandez added. “People always think it is scoring goals that puts you in a good place, but it is not: it is playing, not just having one opportunity and then even if you do well the manager putting another player in next week.
“This amazing club has given me the chance to feel important, and like in any job, that makes it easier to do well. I love to play, more than I love to score goals. To be on that rectangle is to feel free. I maybe feel it more because I have been struggling, struggling, struggling to get here. I know how hard it has been to be here, in the place I am in.”
Manchester United fans: was Louis van Gaal wrong to sell Javier Hernandez? Have your say by leaving a comment below.