"one big family" is how javier hernández describes life at manchester united fc ahead of the visit of valencia cf, against whom he scored his first competitive united goal on matchday 2.
javier hernández says a mixture of the "support of the club, hard work and self-belief" has helped him to find his feet at manchester united fc. the mexico striker was speaking ahead of tuesday's uefa champions league encounter with valencia cf, who visit old trafford with top spot in group c still up for grabs.
hernández, a summer signing from cd guadalajara, struck his first competitive goal for united to earn a 1-0 win when the two sides met at mestalla on matchday 2 and he has since found the net four times in the premier league. "despite the pressure, i've settled well thanks to the help of everybody in the club – the team, all the staff and the coaches," said the 22-year-old.
"it's like one big family. they encourage you and help you grow as a man and as a player. to score a goal like that against a top side in the spanish league was very nice for me and the team as a whole. you really enjoy scoring winning goals because getting the three points is what matters," he added of his 85th-minute strike at valencia.
likely to have to bide his time following the return to form of fellow forwards dimitar berbatov and wayne rooney, hernández underlined his determination to perform whenever called upon. "i'm happy when my team-mates are doing well because i can learn from them and that's what i'm here to do. however much the manager decides to use me, i'll always be ready, whether it's just for five minutes at the end or for a full game."
he has already drawn praise from his manager, sir alex ferguson, who said the mexican "reminds me of denis law and ian st john with his ability to hang in the air. just staying in the air for that fraction longer can upset defenders." sir alex also had words for another of his strikers, namely berbatov, who hogged the limelight in united's last premier league outing, scoring five goals in the 7-1 rout of blackburn rovers fc.
"we finally showed our full capability against blackburn," added sir alex, whose team were not in action at the weekend after their match against blackpool fc was postponed due to a frozen pitch. "dimitar hadn't scored for ten games and, as i often say, strikers live on goals. when they're not scoring they can wonder when the next one's going to come."
if united's strikers have found their range, it is their defenders who have got them this far in the uefa champions league. they have still to concede a goal after 450 minutes' play in the group stage but valencia veteran david albelda sounded undaunted as he said: "manchester have done well throughout the group campaign, but i think that records are there to be broken. i think at mestalla we played better but quality teams like manchester don’t need many chances to win a game. we're coming here to try and win because we realise the importance of qualifying in first place in this competition."
anderson cancelled out pablo hernández's opener to ensure united finished on top of group c ahead of their visitors to old trafford.
it was mission accomplished for manchester united fc as anderson's second-half strike earned them the point required to finish top of group c.
valencia cf, who like united, were already assured a last-16 place, overtook united for a short while at the summit after pablo hernández's 32nd-minute opener. however, united's deserved equaliser fulfilled sir alex ferguson's pre-match wish to "avoid some of the big guns" in the draw on friday week.
both teams featured surprises in their lineups with sir alex giving a uefa champions league debut to goalkeeper ben amos while valencia coach unai emery made seven changes from their last liga outing, handing first starts in the tournament to goalkeeper vicente guaita and centre-back ángel dealbert. despite the sub-zero temperature, there would be little risk of guaita, in particular, getting cold.
anderson had the first opportunity to test guaita on the quarter-hour when an exchange of passes with wayne rooney sent him clear down the inside-right channel but he side-footed the ball tamely at the keeper. anderson's next contribution was to play dimitar berbatov clean through but the bulgarian, who hit five goals in united's last home game, lost the battle of wits with guaita, who then blocked a spectacular park ji-sung volley. two minutes later, united fell behind to the first goal they have conceded in this season's competition.
the lively alejandro domínguez, who had already threatened with a couple of shots, was the instigator. when michael carrick was robbed of the ball by the argentinian, he ran at nemanja vidić before slipping the ball into the path of hernández, breaking to his right, who finished low through the legs of amos. rooney tried to respond but was denied by the crossbar when he curled a shot beyond guaita, and nani sent the rebound bobbling wide.
united laid siege to valencia's goal after the restart. berbatov went close with a hat-trick of headers, rooney drove in a couple of shots and eventually, after 62 minutes, guaita's luck ran out. rafael broke forward and fed park who fired in a shot that guaita got a palm to, anderson following up to score his first goal since september 2009.
there was almost a second soon after as guaita saved berbatov's low shot and nani blazed the rebound over. by this stage valencia had lost domínguez with an apparent hamstring injury, though they had several chances too, notably when aritz aduriz drove a shot straight at amos from inside the box but a draw was the right result.
çizgi hakemleri: joão ferreira (por), joão capela (por)
manchester united: ben amos (gk), rio ferdinand (dk. 50 chris smalling), anderson (dk. 90 darren fletcher), dimitar berbatov, wayne rooney, park ji-sung, nemanja vidić (c), michael carrick, nani (dk. 81 ryan giggs), fabip, rafael
yedekler: tomasz kuszczak (gk), javier hernández, gabriel obertan, federico macheda
teknik direktör: sir alex ferguson (sco)
valencia: vicente guaita (gk), david albelda, alejandro domínguez (dk. 54 isco), aritz aduriz, ángel dealbert, pablo hernández (dk. 81 sofiane feghouli), ricardo costa, éver banega, jérémy mathieu, miguel (c), jordi alba (dk. 68 juan mata)
yedekler: césar sánchez (gk), hedwiges maduro, roberto soldado, tino costa
teknik direktör: unai emery (esp)
goller: dk. 32 pablo hernández (0-1) dk. 62 anderson (1-1)
sari kartlar: dk. 44 anderson (manchester united) dk. 60 david albelda, dk. 78 miguel (c) (valencia)