Jose Mourinho believes ex-Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez is the kind of “killer” that would turn games for a side boasting talented players that are not “in love with the goal”.
An unerring knack at drawing matches they have dominated has proved costly for Mourinho’s United this season, leaving them scrapping for a top-four berth rather than the title.
The Red Devils have drawn half of their current 20-match unbeaten Premier League run and shared the spoils on 12 occasions in total – more than any team in the division.
Misfortune has undoubtedly compounded a lack of cutting edge that has made Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann a potential summer solution.
Mourinho confirmed United are looking at strikers, making his unprompted mention of Bayer Leverkusen’s Hernandez intriguing – especially having recently admitted he would never have sold him.
The Mexico international, known as Chicharito, was unceremoniously shipped out by Louis van Gaal in 2015 and twice retweeted the United manager’s interview.
“It is not at all a problem of quality, it is a problem of luck,” Mourinho said.
“Many goalkeepers becoming phenomenal at Old Trafford, I think is credit for the goalkeeper.
“We have some players that are not really players in love with the goal.
“They are good players, they are creative players, they can create, but naturally they are not the kind of guy that is a killer.
“I give you a simple example. In the way we play at Old Trafford, in the way we dominate opponents in the way we play in their box, I think Chicharito would have 20 goals easy.
“Even coming from the bench for the last 10 or 20 minutes, he will have 20 goals.
“He is a guy that naturally the ball comes, rebound here, rebounds there, boom – goal. The goalkeeper saves, he goes there, tap in – goal. The cross is coming, he anticipates the first post header – goal.
“And not even coming from the bench, we have this kind of player that scores 10, 15 goals and gives you 10 or 15 more points.
“We play well, most of the time, not always obviously, but we play well, we create a lot, we don’t score enough goals for the way we play and the teams that come to Old Trafford.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been the only striker to really shine, but United are waiting on their 27-goal top scorer to stop stalling on a contract extension.
Asked if he would sign an experienced striker this summer, the manager retorted: “I cannot buy a striker more experience than Zlatan!
“We have Marcus (Rashford), we believe in. We believe in Marcus, that’s no doubt. Are we going to buy a striker? Maybe, maybe.”
Mourinho has regularly spoken of his belief in Rashford despite netting just seven goals this term.
However, the United boss would not be drawn on the potential impact of a call-up for this summer’s Under-21 European Championship.
“The power is in the Football Association’s hands and they are going to make the decision what they think is the (best) decision,” Mourinho said. “Agree or not agree, my opinion is not important.”
He added: “He’s having amazing experience, which after the hurricane that was last season when he came in, is giving him a hell of an experience.
“And because he is such a good boy and such a good professional, I believe that this is a fantastic learning experience for him. Fantastic.
“Even not scoring goals, next season he will. Next season will be a good season for him.”
Rashford’s rise to prominence at United has seen him bond with Jesse Lingard, whose progress has been rewarded with a new deal keeping him at Old Trafford until at least 2021.
Eyebrows have been raised at reported £100,000-a-week wages, but Mourinho believes it is part of the modern game.
“First of all, if you don’t pay, they go,” he said. “So we can be criticised by paying so much, but we would also be criticised if we lose a young English player made in the academy.
“The club and the player tried to find a situation that makes everyone happy.
“We are happy he’s staying, he’s happy that he’s staying and obviously he’s happy that he has a much better contract.
“One of the Manchester United great players was telling me the other day that he was rich in the end of his career and now these kids they are rich when they start their career.
“That’s simple and that’s obvious, s o it’s hard and they need to be lucky to be surrounded by the right people.
“If you are rich, that doesn’t mean that you don’t keep motivation high, personal pride high, professionalism high.”