Sir Alex Ferguson has backed Javier Hernandez to eclipse last season’s 20-goal haul for Manchester United.
The popular Mexican was due to link up with his team-mates in New York overnight ahead of Wednesday’s encounter with the MLS All-Stars at Red Bull Arena.
A capacity crowd was already expected but such has been the clamour for Hernandez on this trip, his presence will ensure an even greater frenzy than would normally be the case for a match likely to pitch David Beckham in combat with his old club.
Hernandez stunned Ferguson with the manner of his integration into the English game last season.
And now the United boss is demanding more.
“It was tough for him last season but over time, Javier will mature and get better,” said Ferguson.
“He is improving technically and now he has had a good season behind him in a tough division.”
“We are setting targets for him. We thought he would get 20 last season and he did.”
“He might do even better this time.”
The same is also true of Nani, who found that finishing top of the Premier League assists table, with 18, and being voted United’s players’ player of the year was not enough to get him a starting spot for the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona.
In the aftermath of that loss, and with Ferguson looking at how best to strengthen a team that was so badly outplayed at Wembley, there were plenty happy to write off Nani’s Red Devils career completely.
But he returned for the current five-match tour of the United States, and appears in the right frame of mind to provide an even greater contribution this time around.
“Of course I can get better,” he said.
“That is what I am trying to do. It is not easy but it is what I look to achieve every year.
“If I can get more goals and more assists, that will be good for the team and help us in all the competitions we are going for.
“There is competition at this club but that is good. It inspires you.
“If you have competition, you will train harder and push yourself in every game.
“At Manchester United, you have to be ready every time you go on the field.”