Hernandez dismisses hero tag

Hernandez has endured a stop-start opening to his second Premier

League campaign. His pre-season was halted by the concussion he

suffered on his first day of training after making a belated

arrival to the club’s North American tour in July. Hernandez

eventually made his competitive bow at the end of August, only to

pick up knocks against Chelsea and Stoke that ruled him out of more

matches. His poacher’s instinct clearly remains intact though,

judging by the way he snaffled the second-half opportunity afforded

to him at Anfield, when Danny Welbeck flicked on Nani’s corner. It

was Hernandez’s third goal of the season and secured a 1-1 draw

which, even if it was not enough to prevent Manchester City going

top of the table, at least preserved United’s unbeaten record ahead

of next weekend’s Old Trafford derby clash. “I scored a goal but it

is Manchester United that scored,” said the 23-year-old. “It

doesn’t matter who scored the goals. There are no heroes here.” It

is the kind of selfless attitude Sir Alex Ferguson must love. And

there is no denying Hernandez helped change the flow of a typically

tight affair that only came to life once Steven Gerrard sent his

free-kick through the gap Ryan Giggs created when he split from the

United wall. “It is part of the game,” reflected Hernandez on

United’s defences not doing their job. “Gerrard scored a similar

goal to that at Old Trafford last season, so we need to work a

little bit more on it.” Hernandez’s equaliser provided another

bizarre twist as, rather than going on the complete their comeback,

as United looked capable of when they initially roused themselves

after falling behind, the visitors were pushed back by a late

Liverpool surge. Twice the hosts felt they had sealed a fourth

straight home win over the Red Devils, only for Dirk Kuyt and

Jordan Henderson to be denied by David de Gea. It cemented a view

that it had been De Gea’s most complete performance since his

£18million summer arrival from Atletico Madrid, a view

endorsed in private by one significant member of United’s backroom

team. Twelve months after he was forced to bulk up in an effort to

cope with the sheer physicality of the Premier League, Hernandez is

watching De Gea do the same. And he has been impressed at the

application shown by the Spain Under-21 star. “David is an

unbelievable player,” said Hernandez. “He is working day by day and

the good thing is that he wants to work. “He knows that to play in

this shirt, first of all, you need to enjoy it. But also he is

aware that it is a big responsibility. “He is handling it very

well. He is only 20. He could play for 20 more years if he wants.”

The efforts of Hernandez, De Gea and Rio Ferdinand, who excelled

alongside Jonny Evans in central defence even though he could

easily have been sent off had referee Andre Marriner adopted a

hard-line stance on the foul on Charlie Adam that led to Gerrard’s

goal, helped divert some of the attention away from Wayne Rooney.

After keeping his counsel about Rooney’s England saga, starting

with the red card in Montenegro that led to the news on Thursday

evening that UEFA had banned him from their entire group stage of

Euro 2012, Ferguson delivered his own verdict by putting his

talisman on the bench. It was not quite the same as a decision last

season to leave him out of a trip to Everton altogether due to the

reception he would receive, but it was significant nonetheless and

is in marked contrast to the policy adopted with David Beckham and

Cristiano Ronaldo, who were both given free rein to play through

their troubles. “I wanted everybody in good fettle and good form

without any albatrosses over their heads,” said Ferguson. What the

Scot must also have had at the back of his mind was the need not to

expose Rooney to the most emotionally draining of three games in a

week that includes Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Romania to

face Otelul Galati before next Sunday’s titanic Manchester derby at

Old Trafford.