Fletcher excited by Hernandez adaptation
Darren Fletcher is pointing to the arrival of Javier Hernandez as proof Sir Alex Ferguson knows exactly what he is doing in the transfer market. Once again the Manchester United manager has had a relatively quiet summer. Citing a lack of value, he has restricted himself to just a couple of purchases, both of which were concluded before last season finished.
Defender Chris Smalling agreed to move north from Fulham during previous transfer window, while Hernandez was a total unknown when Ferguson paid a relatively modest £7m for his services at the beginning of May.
Yet the Mexico forward, in particular, is looking like a bargain. He turned in some eye-catching performances at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ to raise his profile, and on his return has scored three times in as many games - once against his new club as he turned out for old side Guadalajara. That form has persuaded Ferguson to release the highly-rated Danny Welbeck and Mame Biram Diouf on loan.
So, while United's critics continue to insist the lack of spending is due to restrictions imposed by the club's huge debt, something Ferguson has strenuously denied, Fletcher feels the 68-year-old Scot is doing exactly the right thing.
"The manager knows what is best for Manchester United," said the Scotland captain. "He knows what this club is capable of and what the players can do.
"Younger players are a year older. The ones we brought in last season have the experience of being around for a season. Hopefully that, coupled with the disappointments of last year, will push us forward to greater success this season."
For Hernandez, the future looks very bright. What needs to be avoided is the Diego Forlan syndrome. The Uruguayan's performances since leaving United, culminating in him picking up the adidas Golden Ball at South Africa 2010, have shown him to be a striker of outstanding talent.
But, signed for roughly the same fee as Hernandez, Forlan became the subject of ridicule when he took eight months and 27 games to score his first goal, wrecking any chance he had of establishing himself as a regular member of Ferguson's starting line-up. So, a goal for Hernandez in tomorrow's Community Shield tussle with Chelsea at Wembley would be perfect for the 22-year-old to relieve the possibility of external pressure.
"Javier is a lovely lad," said Fletcher. "He has come in and settled really well. He speaks great English and gives us another option up front.
"But strikers thrive on goals. You see the confidence they get from them. Javier will be no different. Hopefully he can get off to a flying start and won't look back."
After surrendering the title to Carlo Ancelotti's men last term, an early piece of silverware would be welcomed at Old Trafford. Ferguson accepts the most important aspect is to build some match fitness into his squad.
Half a dozen players - including Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic - only have one game under their belts and, with international fixtures filling next week, the Red Devils manager needs to gauge which players are at the right level for the Premier League opener against Newcastle United on 16 August.
"Pre-season is all about minutes on the clock," said Fletcher. "You want to win games and get your goals, and ideally we can get some silverware on the board straightaway because the Community Shield is a big test for us. But the most important thing is getting the match sharpness back and making sure we are all ready for what is to follow."
Ferguson on Ozil watch
Michael Carrick could feature in tomorrow's Community Shield. Yesterday, Ferguson claimed the midfielder would definitely miss the Wembley showpiece after picking up an ankle injury in Dublin on Wednesday. and was ruled out for a couple of weeks.
But Carrick was fit enough to complete an open training session at Old Trafford this morning, and there appeared no obvious reason why he should not play some part against Chelsea. Ferguson also stated Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen and Nemanja Vidic would get at least 45 minutes against the Blues, and all three were present this morning.
Strangely, for a public session held in aid of the Manchester United Foundation, Ferguson himself was not present, as he will be watching Werder Bremen, including reported transfer target Mesut Ozil, play Fulham in a friendly at Craven Cottage this afternoon. It was left to assistant Mike Phelan to stress how much the Red Devils are looking forward to the new season.