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10th Aug 2017

Javier Hernandez unsure if he’ll uphold football’s worst tradition against Manchester United

On the fence

Robert Redmond

Chicharito is on the fence.

Javier Hernandez returns to Old Trafford on Sunday for the first time since leaving Manchester United. Hernandez was a popular player with United fans, scoring 59 goals in 157 games and helping the team win two Premier League titles.

The Mexican goal poacher wasn’t always a guaranteed starter, but was a valuable squad member until Louis van Gaal came along in 2014.

Van Gaal allowed Hernandez join Real Madrid on-loan for a season, and then sanctioned his transfer to Bayer Leverkusen in 2015. The 29-year-old is back in the Premier League with West Ham and begins his career with the Hammers at Old Trafford.

Hernandez has a choice to make if he scores in the game. He can either celebrate, or uphold football’s worst and most annoying practice – when a player doesn’t celebrate scoring against his old team. The Mexican doesn’t know how he’ll react if he finds the back of the net.

“I don’t know if I will celebrate if I score at Old Trafford,” he said.

“It’s my old club, my old fans, my old stadium but it’ll be my first goal for West Ham. I am not thinking about the celebration, I just want to have the chance to start and get my team the result. I am very happy and glad, it’s the best way to come back and open at Old Trafford. I am a Hammer, a West Ham player, I want to do even better than I did in Manchester.”

Players not celebrating when scoring against their old teams has become fashionable in recent seasons.

Hernandez had a positive experience at United, and he might not want to goad fans in the Stretford End if he scores a 90th minute winner. Fair enough. It was understandable that Frank Lampard didn’t celebrate when he scored for Manchester City against Chelsea in 2014. He’s Chelsea’s all-time record scorer, after all.

However, when Shaun Wright Phillips refused to celebrate scoring for Queens Park Rangers against Chelsea, or when Jonjo Shelvy didn’t celebrate scoring against Liverpool for Swansea City, it was a bit ridiculous.

They were hardly club legends at their former teams, and it just looks strange pretending to be unhappy at scoring a goal. We’ll let Chicharito away with it this time, but otherwise the no-celebration celebration needs to stop.

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