Man United: It's Time For Hernandez To Show His Worth
Javier Hernandez is a man who divides opinion. Some believe he is a born goalscorer and a vital cog in Manchester United’s first team squad. Others believe that his qualities leave a lot to be desired and that he should be able to produce more than just the odd goal if he is playing for the current champions of England. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle with his abilities overall as a complete forward perhaps lacking, but his goalscoring record unquestionably superb.
With Wayne Rooney out of this weekend’s clash with Sunderland and Robin van Persie unlikely to even make a substitute appearance; it is likely that the Mexican will start at Old Trafford. Interim Manchester United manager Ryan Giggs may fancy Hernandez as a player who is likely to feature in the final three games after his cameo against Norwich City last weekend.
There are other options with Welbeck able to play up top on his own with Mata or Kagawa (or both) playing off him but ‘dat guy’ played relatively wide last week and most signs point to Giggs doing the same again this week. There could be an argument for young James Wilson’s inclusion in the starting XI but having played for the Reds’ under 21 team last night, it is doubtful that he will even pop up on the bench.
So this may be Hernandez’s last chance to prove his worth to United, particularly if the new manager has no current plans to keep him. The Mexican will most likely be towards the top of the list of players leaving the club should there be a summer clearout but a few goals before the season’s close may push him further down that list. When Chicharito took to the field last Saturday he looked lively and, but for Juan Mata’s head, would’ve bagged the fourth goal himself instead of being an onlooker. But it was his miss in the final few minutes of the game against Norwich that typified the lack of confidence that has been eating away at his game over the past year or two.
In his first few seasons at the club he was a bit part player who scored important goals. Now he has become a bit part player who scores inconsequential goals. Compare the goal he scored against Chelsea this season to the ones he scored in the three seasons prior. In his debut season he scored an early and decisive goal in what was effectively a title decider. The season after, he scored a late equaliser in a 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge. Last season he scored the winner at Stamford Bridge, but this season his annual goal contribution against the Blues was merely a late consolation in a 3-1 defeat.
Perhaps this says more about the quality of United this season in comparison to the last three, but it is indicative of how he has struggled to have an impact on games this season. Only once this season has one of his goals really mattered in the league, when he scored the winner at home to Stoke. He managed a goal every 95 minutes of playing time in the league last season, but this season his goals-per-minutes ratio is half that.
His ‘super-sub’ status is dwindling and the miss last weekend is something that has been an all too familiar sight this season. There was a time when the sight of Hernandez bearing down on goal had an air of an inevitable positive outcome about it but that has unfortunately been missing this season. A decent goalscoring record in United’s final few games of the season could see the Mexican go down in the new manager’s good books and he will be expected to make a good start this afternoon as he faces the fourth worst defence in the Premier League.