Hitman Hernandez surprises Fergie

Hernandez’s 19th goal of the season provided Manchester United with

an 84th-minute winner against Everton at Old Trafford on Saturday

afternoon that puts them within touching distance of a record 19th

league title. The Mexican has already established himself as a

regular member of Ferguson’s first-choice starting line-up, which

even the Scot did not expect when he lured the 22-year-old to

England from Mexican outfit Chivas this summer. “Javier has done

better than everyone expected,” said Ferguson. “We thought that

because it was his first year, he would just get used to the

English game and get strengthened up. “He has passed all those

tests. “He is first in, at 9am every morning. He is last to leave.

He is a truly dedicated boy.” Hernandez certainly has the priceless

knack of scoring goals. He has scored in six of United’s last 12

games and in 16 matches overall this season, compared with Dimitar

Berbatov, whose 22 have come in just 10 games. The contribution

pushed the Red Devils a bit closer to their Holy Grail as he headed

home Antonio Valencia’s cross to leave United seven points from the

championship at the start of a fortnight that also includes a

Champions League semi-final with Schalke and back-to-back Premier

League encounters with Arsenal and Chelsea. “The thing that puzzles

me is they (the media) keep saying Arsenal and Chelsea have got to

play us still, like we’re going to lose them. Why shouldn’t we win

those games? “As I said to the players, forget all that nonsense.

Just try to win your games and you’ll be all right, keep your heads

and don’t get carried away. “Fixtures are running out for our

rivals and the squad are up for it. “I enjoy this critical stage of

a season when we are involved in big games that come think and fast

and I think we will be okay.” They should be now after Hernandez

came to the rescue. Not that Ferguson had any doubts. “Everton were

very resilient and some of their defending was fantastic,” he said.

“Their goalkeeper made two or three great saves and you say to

yourself ‘this is going to be another late one’. “But you can smell

the history of the club and I could feel the goal was going to

come.” After resting skipper Nemanja Vidic and making five changes

to his starting line-up, Ferguson reported no injury concerns ahead

of Tuesday’s first-leg with Schalke at the Vetlins Arena. The

result virtually ends Everton’s already outside hopes of securing a

Europa League berth for next season. Toffees boss David Moyes said

he had no complaints about a couple of penalty calls that did not

go his side’s way when Jermaine Beckford and substitute Victor

Anichebe went down under pressure from Jonny Evans and Rio

Ferdinand. However, he could not enthuse about Hernandez in the

same manner Ferguson had done. “None,” responded the Scot when

asked for his thoughts on the Mexican’s performance. “He is not my

player. I just wish he hadn’t got into that position. “I couldn’t

say we played well. We didn’t. But there are different sides to

football and for 85 minutes it looked as though we had done our job

very well.”