Football: I had only 1% chance, says Chicharito

Javier Hernandez celebrates scoring during the German first division Bundesliga football match between Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen.
Javier Hernandez celebrates scoring during the German first division Bundesliga football match between Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen.PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN • Javier Hernandez has heaped more pressure on Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal by revealing that the Dutchman told him he had a "1 per cent chance" of playing as a striker if he stayed at the English club.

The striker was loaned out by van Gaal to Real Madrid last season after just two appearances.

The Mexico international, nicknamed Chicharito, then joined Bayer Leverkusen for a reported £7.3 million (S$15.4 million) in August. He has scored 16 goals in his last 13 games for the German side.

United, in contrast, have struggled for goals this season, failing to score in five of their last 11 matches.

Hernandez could have provided the attacking threat United need but did not figure in van Gaal's plans. The manager also allowed Danny Welbeck to move to Arsenal in September last year, while Robin van Persie left for Fenerbahce in the summer.

"I didn't have the intention to leave (on loan) but I wanted more playing time," the Mexican told Spanish newspaper Marca.

"Van Gaal told me that he already had his strikers, that I could take an offer if an opportunity arrives. The board told me that I could go on loan to Real Madrid and it was not a difficult decision for me.

"Then I returned to Manchester. I started to have opportunities but one day, van Gaal said I had only a 1 per cent chance of playing, so I moved to Bayer.

"I felt confident from the very first day. I feel important, not just because of my goals, but because I feel that I'll start every game."

Hernandez joined United in 2010 when Alex Ferguson was in charge, but saw his playing time dwindle after the Scot retired.

"I'm so grateful to Ferguson. I think he's the best there's ever been, especially his squad management skills," he said.

"Every player had his place. A squad player could still play 15 games a season. He opened the door to Europe for me and I won two league titles there."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2015, with the headline 'I had only 1% chance: Chicharito'. Print Edition | Subscribe