Chicha’s Treble dream
Inside United sat down with United’s Mexican hotshot recently and found a player happy to be at the best club in the world and ready to make history…
How much are you looking forward to getting going again for the new season?
A lot. I think all the Manchester United fans, all the people who work at the club, all the players, the boss and all the coaching staff are looking forward to starting the season because we know that last term was a very disappointing campaign because we saw other teams that have a great rivalry with us win trophies. So we need to come back to our best as a team, as a club and try to win every competition that we play. The philosophy of Manchester United is to keep playing, to keep enjoying, to keep working and to keep fighting.
Do you feel as though you’ve had a good rest this summer after having played tournament football for the last two?
Yes. I played four games with Mexico, two friendlies and two World Cup qualifiers. We won the four games [Chicha scored three goals] and then after that I had a very good break. I spent my holiday in Guadalajara, my home town. I think that rest is a very important thing for a football player, because we know that this is going to be a long season.
How important is it that you switch off mentally as well as physically?
It helps a lot and it’s something the coaching staff tell us it’s very important to do… to enjoy some time with your family on your holidays and to rest. But now the switch is turned back on because we are working very hard in this pre-season. The first two weeks in Manchester were very tough but I think we did some very good work. Now, we can’t wait for the season to start and the games to come.
You mentioned the disappointment of last season. Has it felt like a long summer, because you’ve had to wait to put that behind you?
Yes, of course. We need to learn from that disappointment. It was a very strange season because we know that Manchester United have always won trophies in their history, and last season we only won the Community Shield at the start of the season and then we didn’t win anything. So it was very disappointing but we need to look forward. I think that’s going to help us as a team because all the experienced players and all the young ones want to learn and to keep fighting because we don’t want a repeat of last season.
Is it fair to say that the disappointments spur you on more than winning?
Probably. This is a good team – we have lots of experienced players but also lots of young players who want to do their best and have an opportunity in the first team. I think that combination can change [what was] a disappointing year into a good year this season.
Do you take time to reflect on your own personal season?
Yes. Every game I play I try to learn from the chances I didn’t take. Everything that I did wrong is in my head and I try to learn every day. But sometimes it’s better in football that you don’t be too hard on yourself because that can kill your confidence. It’s important to get that balance between the enjoyment of the things you’ve done well and to learn from your mistakes. This team is very good for that: we have the best manager and he knows how to bring out the best in every player.
Your first season exceeded expectations. How would you assess your second campaign?
It was very different because I had a lot of injuries, whereas in my first season I was always fit which was important for me as it meant I had time to work and show my best. Last season I’d be coming back from one injury and then two weeks later I’d get another one, so those starts and stops were very difficult. But I don’t think it was a bad year for me personally – it was a bad year for the group because we didn’t win anything.
You still delivered 12 goals and some important points, though, despite your injuries…
Yes, but I’d trade all those goals for the title.
How do you stay positive when you’re injured?
My team-mates help me a lot, the mood is good and it’s an environment where we all want to help each other. And my family as well. My family and my closest friends are the biggest part of my life and they help my in the good times and the bad.
What will you look to improve upon this season?
Every year, every player needs to look to improve. You never stop learning – tactically, mentally, physically.
As ever, there’s going to be a lot of competition for places up front at United next season – what can you do to stake your place in the team?
Like I always say, there are parts of your life when you’re going to have competition. Even if you’re in the youth team you will have competition in your position, that’s normal. I think having that competition in the team can be good, to keep fighting for that place will make you and the other players play at their best because everyone – the strikers, the midfielders, the defenders, the goalkeepers – all want to be in the XI so they need to keep improving and work hard. It’s normal for a footballer, so I’m going to be ready whenever the gaffer wants me to play. If it’s one minute or 90 minutes, I want to do my best to help the team win titles.
You’ve said you never set any goal targets, but not even privately…?
No, I’ve never had a goal target. I don’t want to be obsessed with scoring goals, I don’t want to be only that player who only scores goals, and if I score goals I’ve played well and if I didn’t score goals I played badly. It’s more about doing my best for the team – if the goals come then great, but if someone else scores instead of me then it’s still great for the United fans and for the club. You can never play one man against 11, and one player can never score all the goals by himself. If the goals are coming then good, but as I’ve always said, I would swap every one of my goals for a title with Manchester United.
Do you have a dream in your head of the perfect goal you would like to score?
My real dream – and I swear it is not about scoring the biggest goal – is to win the Treble. One year at least, I want to win the league, I want to win the Champions League – we were so close in my first year – and I want to win the FA Cup and the League Cup [Chicha, that’s the Quadruple!]. I think the Treble is the most complicated thing in the world for any club to win. So that is my dream, to lift all those trophies in one season.
Does that come after seeing us do it in 1999?
Yes, yes of course. If I have a season where I play a lot but didn’t score one goal, but I can lift those trophies, I will be the happiest man in the world.