Wednesday 13 December 2017

Happy Hammer Hernandez relishing return to 'old home' in Manchester

Javier Hernandez will return to Old Trafford in West Ham colours. Photo: Getty
Javier Hernandez will return to Old Trafford in West Ham colours. Photo: Getty

Matt Law

West Ham United's new striker Javier Hernandez barely paused for breath as he rattled through a five-minute answer in his native tongue to a North American broadcaster.

Viewers in Mexico may wonder quite what the country's all-time leading goalscorer was doing speaking in a portable building stationed in an east London suburb, in which the windows have to be covered with sheets of black paper to make it suitable for TV cameras.

This was certainly not Manchester United's Carrington or Ciudad Real Madrid, the Spanish club's vast training facility. But it is the new home of Hernandez, who has promised to embrace life at West Ham and all the rough edges that come with it. The Hammers, of course, have ambitions much bigger than their modest Rush Green training complex, and the £16m signing of Hernandez from Bayer Leverkusen is the latest example of what they hope will be an upward trajectory.

Travel east out of Stratford on the Docklands Light Railway and you can see the West Ham-coloured seats stored on a car park as the club wait to move back into their stadium after the athletics World Championships.

Those claret-and-blue seats will soon be filled by West Ham fans eager to make Hernandez their new hero, but first it will be the Manchester United supporters who welcome 'Chicharito' back to his old home.

Asked whether or not he thought it was fate that his Premier League debut for West Ham should be at Old Trafford on Sunday, Hernandez said: "I can just say it's luck. I've been very lucky to go back to my old club, to my old home, my old house.

"To start my new chapter in this second part of my English life and in the Premier League, it's going to be something happy. One very important and very lucky moment."

Hernandez fondly remembers walking out at Old Trafford as a United player and insists he still has the same desire to be a success in the Premier League as when he first arrived seven years ago.

"I have very good memories of those four years that I lived in Manchester," he said. "There was happiness that I was living my dream, that I made that big step which is not common. I was very glad, very happy, my family was with me so they were living that dream as well.

"Now I'm very glad to be back in England in one of the best cities in the world in London. What else can I ask for? I'm playing in the best league in the world for this historic club. I'm happy. I'm glad. I'm looking forward to try to show that happiness and confidence on the pitch.

"It's going to be emotional to be in my old house against my old club, of course. But I am with my new team, my new chapter and I want to do as best as I can."

Alex Ferguson was the man who brought Hernandez to England and the 29-year-old is still grateful for the faith the Scot showed in him.

He admits that Ferguson's departure hit him and the rest of the United squad hard and is not surprised it has been difficult for his former club to move on.

"I didn't see it coming," said Hernandez. "Nobody did. It was very strange. We were shocked, but we were very respectful too because he decided squads, games, everything - it was his life. Of course I was upset. He was the manager who brought me here and opened the door to Europe. He taught me to be a better footballer, so of course I was going to be upset when I had a good relationship with a person who gives you a lot of confidence and helps you a lot to improve as a person and player.

"We all knew there was going to be a transition. He was the best manager in history, achieving everything, changing the squad every couple of years, changing players.

"I wasn't surprised. It was normal. Nobody expected when we played for David Moyes that we wouldn't be in European football, but that is part of football. The change of Sir Alex retiring, we knew it was going to be very difficult. He was unique in history of football."

Hernandez is unsure whether he will celebrate if he scores at Old Trafford, but he insists that a different working environment does not mean a different approach. "I prefer not to think about if it's different or not [at West Ham]," said Hernandez. "I'm feeling in the same way I did in my first day in England, the same way I go to play with the national team I've been playing in for seven or eight years, because I love this game.

"I am the same human being as you, or as Joe Hart, as all the people. I am Javier Hernandez, I am Chicharito sometimes, most of the time, because it's part of my profession. But I'm very happy to be with this club. I want to deliver positive numbers and, hopefully, we can achieve the main aim of the club to be in the European places."

Telegraph.co.uk

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