FOOTBALL NEWS

31/03/2013 08:00, Report by Ben Hibbs
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Chicha still important

Sir Alex Ferguson would instantly rebuff any offers made for Javier Hernandez and is adamant that the Mexican is a crucial part of Manchester United’s strike-force, despite speculation linking him with a move away from Old Trafford.

Reports suggested Hernandez was frustrated at missing out on being involved in the Champions League ties against Real Madrid recently; Chicharito was an unused substitute on both occasions. But Sir Alex has launched an impassioned response, describing the 24-year-old striker as “a very important player”, his positive attitude “a breath of fresh air”.

“He’s on a long contract for a start,” Sir Alex told reporters when asked if Chicharito's goal ratio might attract interest from other clubs. “We won’t be entertaining any interest from anyone, no doubt about that. As far as we are concerned he is a really important player for us. You can see that any time he comes into a game he changes it. He does something different from the other strikers.”

An integral part of the selection process involves Sir Alex discussing his decisions with the players. “When I pick a team, I speak to the players that don’t play," he says. "I’ve said to Javier that it’s not easy for me to leave him out because a 16-goal tally against the number of games he has started is a fantastic record. He will always have that record because he is a penalty-box player.

“It’s difficult when you have a player of Robin van Persie’s form, and then you have got Welbeck, Rooney, Kagawa… but that’s been the benefit of having a strong squad – it gives us an advantage over the other teams. I think we’re working with 26 full first-team players now, which is probably the biggest squad in the league.”

Chicharito is perhaps best described as an impact player – sent on from the start to set a high tempo and grab an early goal, or used effectively from the bench when defenders’ legs begin to tire, a tactical change is required or a late winner needed. Naturally, those qualities encourage comparison with another natural finisher from United's past: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. However, Sir Alex feels the two men are different.

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