Ferguson planning Hernandez break
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson intends to give Javier Hernandez a proper rest this summer after the Mexican's incredible efforts for the club this season.
Hernandez is once again expected to lead the United attack at Blackburn Rovers tomorrow, when a single point will be enough for the Red Devils to claim a record 19th league title with a game to spare.
The 22-year-old has been a major influence over the past couple of months and took his tally to 20 for the season with his 36-second opener against Chelsea last week.
However, by the time Hernandez has fulfilled his commitments for United and then appeared for his country at the Gold Cup in June, Ferguson accepts his striker will need a break.
So, rather than pushing him straight on a pre-season tour of USA, as he had planned, it seems Hernandez can expect to be excused from duty. "Once he plays in the Gold Cup, Javier will be given a proper rest and we will take it up from there," said Ferguson.
"His performances in training and in games suggests there is no tiredness at all, but we will keep monitoring that. If we get the result tomorrow he will get the rest. If we don't then he will play next Sunday."
That was the first indication that Ferguson is intending to stand players down for the final Premier League game against Blackpool at Old Trafford on 22 May if the title is won tomorrow.
Barring a complete disaster, the meeting with Blackpool will be followed by a trophy presentation that will confirm Liverpool have been "knocked off their perch" - as Ferguson promised to do when he took charge at Old Trafford in 1986.
It is hard to imagine United will not be celebrating tomorrow, with a number of key players making timely returns over the last few weeks. "The freshness of players coming back has helped us," said Ferguson.
"Antonio Valencia and Ji-Sung Park are two, Anderson is another. There has been a lot of added impetus at an important time. Valencia's form has been terrific, Park has done a magnificent job and Anderson has been doing really well also. It has been a real boost to us."
No need to analyse away form
That form has not triggered an improvement in United's away performances though. In startling contrast to performances at Old Trafford, where the champions-elect have dropped just two points in 18 games, the Red Devils have won just five times on the road.
If they fail to win at Ewood Park tomorrow it will be the worst return of any champion side since Liverpool's five wins in 1977. "We have been disappointing in some away games and thrown others away," said Ferguson.
"There is no question our home form has won us the league. No one in Europe has that kind of record. But now is not a time to analyse. We are where we are. We are happy to win it any way and hopefully we will get the result now."
Ferguson does intend to give goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar a rest after an arduous couple of months, while he is also likely to introduce Scotland captain Darren Fletcher from the bench at some stage.