Curtis and [Ronnie] Wallwork – and we gave them a month’s rest when they came back. Liverpool put Michael straight in the first team, and the following year he was at the World Cup. So he never had a summer break. I also don’t think he was allowed to develop technically, as he said to me himself when I discussed it with him. That’s what I always felt about him. You have young players who are developing and you have to consider when you get a rest. There’s only one time they can develop physically and that is in the summer. You’re not going to develop in the middle of winter.
“Michael was a great player anyway, so it’s maybe a bit churlish to say that is the reason he wasn’t better or something like that. I think he would have been better technically, but he was still a fantastic player.”
Hernandez, however, has clearly profited from his rest and Sir Alex says the budding attributes that alerted United to his potential in the first place are beginning to blossom.
“He is instinctive in terms of space and movement,” says the Reds boss. “That was the attraction when we first saw him. His movement, his speed off the mark, attacking the ball, and he is good at finding space. His goals last week [at Villa] were good examples of that. With the first one, he’s scored a few like that. But his hallmark is definitely the type of goals he scored with the second and third ones.”
The task now is utilising Hernandez’s talents to full. He is pencilled in to start at Norwich but has also proven his credentials as an impact player. “Some players are good substitutes but others are better when they start games. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would watch a