Jose Mourinho has prompted speculation that Manchester United will look to resign Javier Hernandez this summer, arguing that the Mexican would have scored “20 goals easy” this season under his management while suggesting the club are in the market for a new striker.
Hernandez joined United in 2010 and spent five years at Old Trafford, including one season on loan at Real Madrid, before leaving to join Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2015.
The Mexican drifted in and out of the United starting XI during his five-year spell in Manchester, with both injury and competition denying him a permanent role in the side.
Serving under Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, Hernandez made a name for himself as an impact sub and went on to cement his status as a firm fan favourite at Old Trafford.
The 27-year-old’s loan move to Madrid proved unsuccessful but the Mexican has since gone on to thrive at Leverkusen, scoring 38 goals for the club across the past two seasons.
And now, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s future at Old Trafford proving unclear, Mourinho has suggested that the club could seek to bring back Hernandez this summer in what would be a surprising transfer move.
Ahead of his side’s Premier League clash with Sunderland on Sunday, Mourinho told the press that United’s limited goal-scoring success was down to ‘bad luck’ and the absence of a “killer” instinct among his men – but argued that 'Chicarito' would have flourished in front of goal under the Portuguese this season.
Manchester United power rankings: Who's in form and who must improve?
Manchester United power rankings: Who's in form and who must improve?
1/10 Impressed: 1/5
Juan Mata: The Spaniard matched his best goalscoring tally of 10 from the two previous seasons as he was the difference against Rostov at Old Trafford. Mata doesn’t always take centre-stage but often is an essential cog in United’s attacking fluency. Against Middlesbrough without Pogba and Herrera the start of United’s attack landed on Mata’s shoulders and he took his chance in March.
2/10 Impressed: 2/5
Antonio Valencia: An ever-present performer for United, the winger converted wing-back has been a blessing for Jose Mourinho and this month was no different. The third against Middlesbrough showed everything to what makes a player above average. The persistence to follow the ball to pressure Valdes late on and against Chelsea when United were under the cosh, his energy to continue right until the end was the epitome to his recent performances.
3/10 Impressed: 3/5
Marcus Rojo: A goal against Bournemouth and several strong performances has shown the Argentine has come on strong and possibly at the right time. The defender does have a tendency to lose his man at set pieces but strong performances as expected against Rostov and a change of system in recent weeks, he has been the stand out performer at the back.
4/10 Impressed: 4/5
Sergio Romero: Chances have been few and far between for the Argentine but his performances against a poor Rostov side, were crucial to the Manchester club progressing into the next round. The unorthodox save in Russia prevented United losing 2-1 and in the home leg, a poor United performance saw Rostov find space to keep Romero on his toes and he matched Sardar Azmoun’s top-corner bound free-kick at the death.
5/10 Impressed: 5/5
Jesse Lingard: Manchester United’s youth product continues to prove his worth time and time again for Mourinho. The Englishman earned a England call-up and even though he is often a substitute for United, against Middlesbrough he was a creative force, regularly providing the key pass for Rashford, but it was his strike from outside the area that once again showed his ability to score from range and score at a crucial point in the game, remind you of anyone?
6/10 Must Improve: 1/5
Ander Herrera: Usually such a dependable player this season, but March has been a harsh lesson for the Basque player. It could be down to a loss of energy due to his high work rate but without that same tenacity he appears a different prospect, highlighted in the Rostov match at Old Trafford and against Chelsea. The red card against Chelsea could be deemed harsh but either way it cost United in an important game for his team and Mourinho as it appeared his tactics could allow his side to snatch a result.
7/10 Must Improve: 2/5
Phil Jones: The defender has had moments of brilliance at United but this month it was filled with awkward and bad decisions. Understandably, it’s not Jones’ fault about being put on the wing, but Jones regularly used to make darting runs into the opposition half. This showed the injuries have impacted his game and a lack of confidence in his ability. The poor tackle to give Bournemouth a penalty for the draw was another costly decision, by a defender who could be on the way out of United in the summer.
8/10 Must Improve: 3/5
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: The talisman for the season for United has been the Swedish striker. But the elbow on Tyrone Mings could have a lasting effect on the season for United beyond March. It did open the door for Rashford to gain some minutes but he failed to score in the Europa League against Rostov, especially at Old Trafford which was another poor performance.
9/10 Must Improve: 4/5
Paul Pogba: The Frenchman was pulled off injured against Rostov at Old Trafford but with United winning comfortable at Middlesbrough in the next game it would have hurt his pride. The Frenchman struggled to control N’Golo Kante in the FA Cup and resorted to hauling him to the ground in frustration, while against Bournemouth failed to conjure up any world beating inspiration. The injury could help the midfielder to witness Lingard’s impact and how he needs to find the same level of performance before the end of the season.
10/10 Must Improve: 5/5
Anthony Martial: The forward has struggled for a while now, and this month was no different. He has been In and out of the team and the matchday squad. Against Bournemouth at the start of the month, he was another to fail to produce a performance as United drew again and as a substitute he has been anonymous.
“I think clearly if you go for example for Paul Pogba, the number of times he's hit the posts are almost Guinness Book of Records,” Mourinho explained.
“Some of those would have been amazing goals. I remember a couple of direct free-kicks hitting the post, so we've seen lots of beautiful actions. It's not a problem of quality at all, it's a problem of luck.
“They are good players, they are creative players, they can create, but naturally they are not the kind of guy that is a killer.
“I give a simple example. In the way we play at Old Trafford, in the way we dominate opponents in the way we play in the box, I think 'Chicharito' would have 20 goals easy, even coming from the bench for the last 10 or 20 minutes.
“He is the guy that naturally the ball comes here, rebound here, rebounds there, boom - goal.
“If the goalkeeper saves it, he goes there, boom - goal. If the cross is coming, he anticipates the first post header - goal. And that's not even coming off the bench.”
When asked if he would be signing an experienced striker in the summer, Mourinho replied: “I cannot buy a striker more experience than Zlatan!"
He added: “We have Marcus, we believe in, that's no doubt. Are we going to buy a striker? Maybe, maybe.”
Van Gaal’s decision to sell Hernandez in 2015 was met with a fierce response from fans who lamented the loss of the Mexican. Numerous supporters have since called for the club to resign the player and Mourinho himself has expressed an interest in the 27-year-old.
Speaking earlier in the season, the Portuguese revealed that he would never have let the forward move on from United.
“Man Utd sold players that I would never sell and bought players that I would never buy," he said.
“I would have never have sold Angel Di Maria, Chicharito and Danny Welbeck. Never. No chance.”Reuse content