Sunday 18 March 2018

Hernandez casts doubt over future at United

Fulham 1 Manchester Utd 3

Kieran Richardson gets a grip on Adnan Januzaj at Craven Cottage
Kieran Richardson gets a grip on Adnan Januzaj at Craven Cottage
Javier Hernandez, who could be on his way out of Old Trafford

Ian Winrow

Javier Hernandez appears to have raised doubts over his Manchester United future after the forward retweeted a report quoting Carlos Vela, his close friend and team-mate in the Mexico national team, saying 'Little Pea' will be forced to consider leaving Old Trafford if he does not play more regularly.

Hernandez, whose verified Twitter account is @ch14_, added no comment to the message, but the decision to spread it to a wider audience will inevitably be interpreted as an endorsement of Vela's sentiments.

Vela, who will be in the Real Socieded team who face United in the Champions League tomorrow, said: "If he plays regularly he will score, so I don't totally understand why a player of his quality has not played more games.

"If he doesn't play regularly he will need to think about leaving. You always want to succeed at the biggest clubs – but if he is not given the chance there will be big teams in England and Europe wanting him."

The striker was part of David Moyes' squad at Fulham on Saturday but remained an unused substitute.

Speaking after the game, Moyes insisted he would continue to use all the players at his disposal while he evaluates his squad, although the form of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney this weekend suggests opportunities up front will be limited, particularly after the United manager described the partnership as potentially the best in the world last week.

"I think whatever happens at Manchester United you have a squad and you have to use the squad," Moyes said. "And whether you have consistency or whether you have seen them all, you still have to rotate the squad here. That's part of the job. And maybe that's why, because Manchester United do that, they come stronger later on in the season, because they've not used all the players at the start."

Moyes might have wished Wayne Rooney was not the dominant figure at Old Trafford when he took his first steps as successor to Alex Ferguson, but he clearly now has no concerns the forward is again the focus of attention.


At one point it looked as though Moyes would have to forge a new Manchester United without the England forward or, at best, with a Rooney whose satisfaction with Old Trafford had waned beyond repair.

Instead, Rooney has been successfully rehabilitated to the extent his manager has talked him up as a potential future captain of the club, a view that was only reinforced against Fulham, a performance described by Nemanja Vidic, the current captain, as his side's best of the season so far.

Not that there have been too many contenders for that title. The fact this was the first time Moyes' side have recorded back-to-back league victories told its own story.

There were times, though, particularly during an exhilarating opening half when United's attacking play, revolving around the devastating link-up between Rooney and Van Persie, was irresistible.

Then, when Fulham roused after a first half that left them three down and United eased off, Rooney's work rate and willingness to adapt himself to the needs of the team helped ensure there was no risk of a good afternoon turning sour for the visitors. Moyes is in no doubt the player he has known longer than most is fully back on board.

"He's a big believer in the team now and he's desperate for the team to be successful," said the manager. "And obviously a successful team helps him as well. He's got leadership qualities, he's a man when he is on the pitch.

"Today we felt young Adnan (Januzaj) needed to drop inside so I had to pull (Rooney) out wide for the last 15 minutes just to make sure we didn't do anything stupid. And he understands that, and I think he's at an age where he can see that as well."

Part of Rooney's frustration last season arose from the forward being asked to play in a withdrawn role while Van Persie led the line. With Rooney's form and fitness now restored, the value of a closer partnership between the pair was clear as they combined to set up Antonio Valencia's ninth-minute opener before scoring themselves to put the game beyond Fulham's reach inside 22 minutes.

"You could see in the first half they were linking up so well, they were unplayable," said Phil Jones, the United midfielder.

"No one can play against players like that on that kind of form. We have been saying for the past few weeks that someone is going to be on the end of a four or five-nil battering. It could have been that in the first half today."

Positive signs all round then for Moyes, who will start to feel even more at home if his side can secure a result at Sociedad. Doubts remain about the fitness of Tom Cleverley, Jonny Evans and Rafael, who were withdrawn at half-time with Rafael's ankle injury the greatest concern.

Januzaj should be fit despite appearing to receive a stamp from Sascha Riether in the final moments. The Fulham right-back escaped punishment but could face retrospective action if the English FA decide there is a charge to answer once it has received referee Lee Probert's match report and consulted with the match officials today.

Saturday's defeat raises fresh doubts about the future of Fulham. When Dutchman Martin Jol arrived at Fulham in 2011 it was seen as something of a coup. After all, his previous two jobs had been at former European Cup winners Hamburg and Ajax, and he had done well at Tottenham.

The sense of optimism engendered at Craven Cottage then is long gone. Fulham are sliding down the table, sitting just two points off the relegation zone, the fans are in a mutinous mood, and a stiff run of pre-Christmas fixtures awaits.

The club is also under new ownership, and new owners like to redecorate, usually beginning with the fixtures and furnishings in the dugout. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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