Alex Ferguson was never seriously worried by the prospect of Javier Hernandez being a one-season wonder at Manchester United.
Hernandez had a stellar debut campaign following his arrival from Mexico in 2010, scoring 20 times to earn a place in United’s Champions League final starting line-up.
In comparison, last term was slim pickings.
A delayed pre-season due to Gold Cup commitments for his country was then put back even further when he was hospitalised after taking a blow to the head during training ahead of a game with the MLS All-Stars.
Hernandez ended up scoring just 12 goals and by the end of the campaign had slipped behind Danny Welbeck in the striking pecking order.
With speculation surfacing about interest from Real Madrid and Robin van Persie completing a big-money move from Arsenal, Hernandez’s Old Trafford future seemed to be in the balance.
Not any more. At least not from the United side.
He may not get the hat-trick he felt he was entitled to from last weekend’s win at Aston Villa. However, his double has taken this season’s tally to eight — seven of which have come in his last five appearances.
Ferguson has since stepped back slightly from his post-Villa statement that Hernandez would start at Norwich today, saying the Mexican “should” play.
“You could worry about that,” said Ferguson, when asked about the potential for Hernandez never living up to his first-term heroics.
“But we examined his previous summers and the answer was there.
“You can play too much football, particularly young players growing and developing.”
Ferguson took the pretty brutal step of blocking Mexico’s intention to pick Hernandez as an over-age player in their Olympic squad.
As Mexico went on to win a gold medal, Hernandez might well have felt crestfallen at what had taken place.
Yet, from his own experience, Ferguson knew he was acting on behalf of player and club.
“Michael Owen would have been a far better player if he had been allowed to improve technically and develop himself rather than playing all the time,” said Ferguson, who recalled a youth tournament in Malaysia in 1997, when two of his own players were also involved for England.
“We had John Curtis and Ronnie Wallwork there and gave them a month’s rest after they came back.
“But Liverpool put Owen right back in the first team. The following season he played in the World Cup.
“I am not sure [if it contributed to his injuries] but he would have been a better player.
“When young players are developing you have to consider when they can get rest. There is only one time they can develop physically and that is the summer because they are not going to develop in the middle of winter.”
For his part, Norwich manager Chris Hughton is not about to drive himself mad worrying about United’s offensive quality, and will instead focus on his own team today.
“It is a problem because of the quality Manchester United have got, so you have to make sure that, as a team, you are set up well enough that you are going to be difficult to play against,” Hughton said.
“You have to make yourself harder to beat and harder to penetrate, but you also have to have a share of the game because if you sit back for 90 minutes, there is only going to be one outcome.
“But you can’t drive yourself mad, there are so many different avenues United have and you have to put more emphasis on your own team.’’
Hughton maintains Norwich must believe they can cause an upset.
He insisted: “We will need every bit of what we have shown in the last few weeks to get something from the game, but it is possible.”
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