Wednesday 22 November 2017

Fergie's 'Little Pea' set to fire

United manager backs Mexican to go on scoring spree after resolving 'issues'

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes Javier Hernandez is finally ready for lift-off.

The Mexican was one of the stand-out successes of last season, arriving as a £7m unknown but ending the campaign as a player with predatory instincts whose goals helped propel the Red Devils to their record 19th league title.

Unfortunately for the 23-year-old, this term has proved to be a bit of a trial.

After missing the first part of United's pre-season tour of the United States as he recovered from his commitments at the Gold Cup, where he finished top scorer, Hernandez eventually linked up with his team-mates in New Jersey.

Yet he ended his first day of training in hospital after taking a nasty bang on the head and since then, he has struggled for any continuity.

Hernandez made his re-appearance against Tottenham in August but has since taken another blow on the head and suffered an ankle injury.

It has restricted him to just six goals this season and, currently, he is being overlooked in favour of Danny Welbeck.

However, Ferguson has noticed a general improvement in standards and believes Hernandez is now ready to show the form that made him such a crowd favourite.

"Javier has had his issues this year," said Ferguson.

"He had that concussion, then he had another head knock and then an ankle injury.

"He has not got the season going yet.

"But he is looking well now and his training has been fantastic. That is a bonus because you want variations in the striking department anyway.

"And if we get Hernandez back into the frame what an addition he can be. We know the goals he can score."

Yet Hernandez must first squeeze his way past Welbeck, who, despite his own injury woes, has been in fine form.

The 21-year-old has scored eight times and produced all-round form that has led to him becoming established in Fabio Capello's England squad.

Ferguson has dismissed talk of problems in negotiations over a new contract and instead concentrated on the physical development of a player he doesn't feel will fully mature for another couple of years.

"Danny has had a couple of injuries this season but he is still growing into himself," said Ferguson.

"He has got a bit to fill out yet, which is an amazing thing to say because he is such a big lad.

"But in two years you will see a different human specimen, I am sure of that. He seems to be growing all the time."

Meanwhile, Ferguson claims there is "no chance" of the spectacular August showdown between United and Arsenal being repeated when the two sides meet again at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow.

United emerged triumphant on that stunning afternoon, romping to an 8-2 win that condemned Arsenal to their biggest defeat in 114 years.

It was part of a blistering start to the campaign that also saw the Premier League champions score three times against both Tottenham and Chelsea and put five past Bolton at the Reebok Stadium.

Performances have become rather more restrained since as injuries and setbacks made their mark, which is why Ferguson is anticipating a return to the tense battles of the past when United square up to Arsene Wenger's side this weekend.

"It won't be as open as the last time. There is no chance of that," said Ferguson.

"There won't be a lot between the two teams.

"They have only lost six goals at home this season so we are well aware it is going to be a hard game. I just hope we can get the result we want and need."

United may well need an away win because by kick-off they will be six points adrift of Manchester City if the Blues emerge triumphant from their top-of-the-table encounter with Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium.

"I have never used revenge as part of my motivation," he said. "It rankles but you have to forget it. I am sure Arsene did that. That is what I would have done anyway."

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