Mexico’s next game against Holland has a special significance for Javier Hernández, who will not only be meeting up with his friend and club strike partner Robin van Persie but coming face to face with Louis van Gaal earlier than most of his Manchester United team-mates.
“It’s him next, I know,” he said of the new United manager. “I don’t think either of us will be thinking of Manchester United, he is the Dutch manager and I am a Mexico player, so there is nothing else. It will be great to see Robin, though. We have spent two good years together and won a league together. He is one of the best players in the world and it will be nice to meet up with him.”
Hernández has only been used as a substitute thus far in the World Cup, though at least when he came on against Croatia he scored a goal, greatly appreciated not just by the thousands of Mexico supporters in Recife but by his grandfather, who was at the game. “Not many people can say their granddad has seen them score a World Cup goal,” he said. “I did not need the goal to boost my confidence, my confidence was already there. I would not be playing at the World Cup without confidence, I would not have the faith of the coach, I would not have scored. This has been a complicated period, but if I had lost confidence I would not be here.”
Manchester United are between managers at the moment and Miguel Herrera has only been in charge of Mexico a short time, albeit a successful one, but Hernández takes a pragmatic view of whoever happens to be in charge. “I don’t like to compare managers, as a player it is easiest to believe that every coach is the best. Miguel [Herrera] is in charge now and is doing a very good job, we feel he is the best option. He is a character in the dressing room, very animated, trying to motivate us with his words and actions. I don’t like comparisons because I want to be a thankful person. I am grateful to all the managers who selected me, they all gave me confidence. Every time a manager gives you a chance you have to take it.”
Hernández’s goal against Croatia came from a flick by Rafael Márquez, the veteran captain who had also opened the scoring with a set-piece header to claim a place in World Cup history. “Rafael is a great character and now he has a very good record, he has scored in three consecutive World Cups,” Hernández said. “He is still a very important player for us. A lot of people criticised him because of his age, but he went to Mexico and won the league twice, and now he is proving a good captain, scoring goals and supporting us in the best way possible. We know Holland will be tough opponents, but we always think we can go a long way in tournaments and we would like to get beyond the last 16. We will try our best, anyway.
“When you have support like we have, you have to give everything. The fans have spent a lot of money to come to Brazil and be here for us, and the best thing we can do for them is to give 100% in return.”