Improving all the time

Javier Hernandez has struggled to hold down a place in the Manchester United starting line-up but his double against Braga in the UEFA Champions League could well force him back into contention.

Javier Hernandez has given Sir Alex Ferguson a timely reminder of just how important he could be to Manchester United as they look to fire their way into form.

The Red Devils found themselves 0-2 down at home in the UEFA Champions League fixture against Braga but Hernandez inspired his side as they continued to experience defensive frailties.

Hernandez netted his first header after 25 minutes to get his side back in the game after a shaky opening quarter. The Mexican was a constant threat and was rewarded with his second as he rose higher than anyone else in the Braga penalty box to head home Tom Cleverley’s cross to complete the United comeback.

Hernandez has struggled to hold down a place in the starting line-up but his double against Braga could well force him back into contention. Following Robin Van Persie’s arrival at Old Trafford, he has spent most of this season on the bench despite Wayne Rooney’s injury lay-off and the summer departures of Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen.

He has managed just one goal in the English Premier League but now appears to have forced his way into his manager’s thoughts with Ferguson conceding he may well be forced to re-think his plans after the Mexican’s European display. “Him, Van Persie and Rooney... I don’t know what to do with the three of them,” said Ferguson. “The boy is improving all the time. His goal ratio is fantastic and the way he bent his run for the second goal was terrific. He is a fantastic trainer and he has given me a problem which is good.”

Hernandez knew it was going to be a tough season with the arrival of Dutch ace Van Persie but he insists he will not give up his shirt without a fight.

Of his desire to compete for a place, he said: “There is competition for places, but you always have that. I had that in youth teams when I was growing up and we have it here now because you need a big squad of players. There are only 11 places each week and you need to do your best to get one of those places, but it’s great to have that competition because it means every player will have to raise the level of their game. The gaffer has the decisions to make, but for me, I just focus on doing my best every day in training and in every game so I can help my team-mates get closer to winning the league and all the competitions we play in.”

Although Hernandez is confident he can keep his place in the team, he knows he has much to learn and is looking forward to working with Van Persie.

“I think in life you never stop learning, no matter what age you are,” he added. “I try to learn from all my team-mates, but obviously it’s great to watch the other strikers in particular. I will learn a lot off Robin because he is a world-class striker who has a lot to give to the team and a lot to teach us all.”

The challenge for Hernandez is to extend his goal-scoring form when the opportunities arise. He managed to hit the 20-goal mark in his first season at Old Trafford and was crowned the Fans’ Player of the Year, but struggled with injuries last season. A return to his best will give Ferguson more welcome selection headaches.

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