Chicharito Deserves To Be A Regular Manchester United Starter
8th April 2010 was a day of stark contrast in Manchester United’s history. On the one hand, the Red Devils had just been knocked out of the Champions League the day after losing on away goals to Bayern München (a 3-2 win at Old Trafford proved insufficient to overcome a 2-1 loss in Germany) and on the other hand a virtually unknown Mexican striker, nicknamed “little pea,” was unveiled as a new Manchester United player.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernández Balcázar was signed from Club Deportivo Guadalajara (widely known as “Chivas”), arguably Mexico’s most successful team, for a reported fee of £6 million. At the time, he was unknown Mexican whose signing didn’t garner too much attention but in the years since there is no question that United’s scouts did a great job in plucking Chicharito from relative European obscurity.
Before he started training with England’s most successful football club, Chicharito played in the 2012 World Cup and helped his nation reaching the last 16 round (where they lost 3-1 to Argentina), scoring twice in the process. Chicharito’s rare ability to appear from nowhere and score goals was obvious in the tournament but very few could have predicted that he would soon become a key player for both club and country.
On 27th July, Chicharito made his debut against a MLS All-Star team and scored after just 18 minutes on the pitch in a match won 5-2 by United. It was just a summer friendly, but it was evident United had signed a great player, a true goal-poacher in the mould of the Reds legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
A bubbly character, the Mexican striker gelled admirably well with his new environment (a new country, a new league, a new language… something that is never easy to handle) and enjoyed a highly successful maiden season in England, lifting both the Premier League and the Community Shield. Remarkably scoring 20 goals in 45 appearances, in all competitions, he quickly become a fans-favourite and also earned the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year Award.
Unfortunately, Chicharito’s second season at Old Trafford was not as brilliant as the first. Yet, he still managed to score 12 times in 36 appearances despite suffering a succession of injuries. Some questionned whether Premier League defenders soon figured the Mexican out but it was quite clear that the lack of a proper rest during several consecutive summers took its toll and so Sir Alex Ferguson made sure Chicharito would enjoy a well-deserved rest prior to the next beginning of this season.
That decision therefore prevented him from taking part in the Olympics. Wonderfully, Mexico managed to pick up the gold medal in the Mens Football even in Hernandez’ absence, beating Brazil in the final. Hypothetically, Chicharito could have won a gold medal but, most crucially for the Red Devils, he was on United’s pre-season tour instead. Chicharito never complained, something which speaks volumes about his personality and professionalism, and Manchester United fans must appreciate that he is not only an excellent football player; he is also a very unique human being.
Chicharito is now back to his best and doing what he knows best. Despite being only Sir Alex Ferguson’s third choice upfront, behind established world-class players Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, he has found the net 12 times in 21 appearances, including a hat-trick at Villa Park (3-2) and late winners at Stanford Bridge (3-2) and against Newcastle United (4-3) at Old Trafford on Boxing Day. To add to that, the improvement in his all round game this season is there for all to see. Additionally, he nowadays holds the ball up better, gets caught offside less often and links up better with his team mates than ever before.
It may not be easy to accommodate all three players in Manchester United’s XI, but there are options: playing Rooney as a “false” left-winger on a standard 4-4-2 formation or playing the, hated in some quarters, diamond with Rooney at the tip.
Javier Hernández’s work-ethic is as good as anyone’s and he is the most natural goal-poacher in the squad. In fact, he has scored 12 times so far this season despite his restricted number of minutes on the pitch and could have notched a few more easily if he was featuring more regularly. In addition, Rooney and van Persie feel comfortable playing along with the Mexican striker and both may even improve their already outstanding efficiency.
Taking all these factors into consideration, I am in a solid position to affirm that Javier Hernández has done more than enough this season to be part of Manchester United’s starting line-up on a more regular basis.