By Karl Tippins
As Manchester United stagger from one toothless performance to the next and boss Louis van Gaal continues to attract ire for the standard of football being produced, many of the players that were allowed to leave in the summer are doing brilliantly at their new clubs.
There is no question that Javier Hernandez is the standout performer in this respect right now.
Hernandez was never what you would call a first-team regular at Old Trafford, but in his early years at the club he was trusted by Sir Alex Ferguson to start in numerous big games, and would often make his presence felt from the substitutes bench, with his pace and movement troubling teams and opening up space for colleagues towards the end of games. In his first season at United he netted 20 goals and was the fans’ player of the year.
This season, since moving to Germany and to Bayer Leverkusen, Hernandez has scored 10 Bundesliga goals in 13 appearances, twice in one cup game, and five times in the UEFA Champions League for a return of 17 goals in 20 appearances, while also adding international goals against Argentina and the United States.
It is unsurprising that, as United captain Wayne Rooney struggles for form and the club continues to rely on the talented but very raw Anthony Martial, people are now looking at Hernandez and wondering why he was allowed to leave. The assumption can only be that van Gaal thought another striker was on his way into the club, but this has never been confirmed despite rumors linking United to a move for Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane.
Hernandez was today quoted by Marca as saying, "I spoke with Van Gaal and he said that I only had a one per cent chance of playing in my position, so I headed to Bayer.
"I felt confident from the very first day. I feel important, not just because of my goals, but because I feel that I'll start every game".
While Hernandez’s comments are unlikely to ruffle van Gaal, the timing of them could prove difficult as the manager faces increasing questions about how United are progressing under his stewardship. That United rarely look like scoring will add further fuel to the fire, though most of the questioning will come back to why Van Gaal made such a comment, if it is indeed true, to such an obviously talented player who showed glimpses of his best form at Real Madrid last season.