Javier Hernandez admits he had to be selfish when he left Manchester United and says the fans only wanted him to stay as “back-up”.
The Mexico marksman has said that United boss Louis van Gaal was “honest” with him before he left for Bayer Leverkusen last summer.
The striker scored 37 goals in 103 Premier League games over six seasons at Old Trafford before Leverkusen swooped to sign him for £7.3million, but the 27-year-old says he would never have left if Van Gaal had assured him of first-team football.
“If the coach had told me I would be his No. 1 striker, I would never have left,” Hernandez told The Times.
“But I wanted to play. I looked for the team for three years. I focused on being there, on working, on being a good team-mate, on being ready. [It was the time] to look for myself, to look at my own goals.
“The fans wanted me to stay, but they wanted me to stay as a back-up. I did not want to wait any more.
“It is easy to say you don’t want to train, to tweet or put a picture on Instagram because you are not playing, to fight with a manager.
“The easy path is for people who don’t care. Some people fight in a bad way but that is not how I see the world. It is harder to be professional, to be patient, but that is what I like.
“You have to swallow it. You have to keep working even without something coming. You have to be quiet even when you feel like shouting.”
Since heading to the Bundesliga, Hernandez has scored 21 goals in 24 appearances, leading many to question Van Gaal’s decision to sell the striker, especially in light of United’s goalscoring problems this season.
Both Hernandez, who has been linked to Liverpool and Arsenal, and Van Gaal claim to have had no choice and the move was the obvious solution for both parties with Wayne Rooney United’s kingpin.
“He was honest,” Hernandez said. “In the first few weeks, he spoke to me and said he saw a good future, that I would have more chances than normal. It made me feel I could play.
“But then, after the start of the season, he told me he was thinking Wazza (Rooney) would be his No.1.
“He said that I would be No.2 but the reality was that if Wazza got injured or was out for any reason, when he came back, he would play.
“It was 99 per cent likely I would not be his first choice. He was clear, that was his idea, and we have to be respectful of that. We decided that if a good offer came, I would take it.”