It’s coming up to a year since United signed an unknown quantity from Mexico. Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez signed from Guadalajara for an undisclosed fee believed to be just £6 million.
I’ll be honest, when news filtered through that Fergie had snapped an unproved, unheard of, untested striker I was thinking more Manucho – less Solskjaer, another Bellion or Diouf.
He’s surpassed all my expectations, but I’m not alone. It seems Fergie feels the same.
“I really didn’t expect Hernandez to have this impact,” said Ferguson.
“As we said to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, we thought his first season would be about integration.
“Solskjaer played in a few reserves games and scored a hat-trick against Leeds. After that (coach) Jim Ryan came to me and said he is a first team player. We made him a sub the following week against Blackburn and he scored.
“The only advantage for Hernandez was that he’d played in the World Cup so there was a profile attached to him and he had also come from a much tougher domestic competition.
“Hernandez is fantastic at taking up positions inside the penalty box.
“It is natural. He has the instinct to move around and his timing is terrific..
“There have only been a few top strikers who have had that quality.”
Same with Wayne Rooney. What no-one – least of all Rooney – appreciated at that stage was precisely what value Javier Hernandez was about to bring to the club. On 20 October, he had started only four games and scored twice in competitive games. Against Schalke, the partnership with Rooney looked more irresistible than ever.
Discussing their rapid blend – and his own new role as an old-fashioned No10 operating behind the Mexican – in detail for the first time, Rooney said it was not something he had discussed with Ferguson in advance. “I obviously saw and understood Chicharito and the way he plays and I knew if I was playing up front with him I would have to change and maybe play a bit deeper and try and link the play a bit,”
Rooney said. “It has worked for us. He’s been a fantastic signing and has scored a lot of goals – important goals as well – and I’m enjoying getting on the ball and linking play and getting a few goals.
“Sometimes when you play up front on your own you’re not really in the game as much, you’re sort of waiting for your opportunity to score.”
“When you play in the position, you’re always involved. You can get on the ball and create and score goals. As a footballer you enjoy that.”
Though this United squad have been characterised as an inferior one to those who reached the 2008 and 2009 finals, Rooney believes they are superior in certain areas. “We are controlling games a lot better than we probably were in the lead up to those two [Champions League] finals,” he said. “Then we were about counter-attacking and a lot of pace and now I think we are controlling games a lot more and having a lot more possession.
The most remarkable thing about Hernandez is not just that he scores goals, but that he scores vital goals.
He has netted seven late winners for United during the campaign, including one against Everton last weekend. But is he the best Premier League signing of the season? RFFH says: YES!
The youngster’s exuberant personality is just one of his many attirbutes that has helped him take the English game by storm and settle in so fast at United.
What’s even better about Chicha is his behaviour off the pitch. Without fail after every home game he’s over to the fans and signs every single autograph asked of him. He’s always got a smile on his face, has an infectious positive attitude and according to the boss is last off the training pitch at Carrington.
Ferguson, and every other manager, take risks signing players from foreign countries and how they will adapt to the pressures and style of play of the Premier League.
Chicharito has come from a very physical league, but, in all honesty, the Primera División de México is not on the same level that is played in Europe or England. Hernandez’s work rate and natural goal scoring ability has enabled him to overcome any of the potential set backs.
Snubbed from winning the PFA Young Player of the Year in favor of Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, Chicharito has submerged himself in the hearts of the United supporters with timely goals, but also becuase of his unwavering passion to play for the world’s biggest club.
From day one, the very humble Mexican is respectful and cherishes every moment he is able to pull on the famous Red shirt. Today that kind of loyalty is unheard of and Chicharito should be seen as a role model for his playing ability, but also his gentleman mentality off of it.
Although he was getting a lot of stick for his early goal celebrations for kissing the crest on his shirt, but those actions were heartfelt, and done out of sheer respect for being given an opportunity to fulfill a dream of playing for a club like Manchester United.
Many players today do not fully appreciate, or utilise, their God-given talents to play the sport most people would play for free – but Hernandez does just that.
As Ferguson has found out many times before, natural finishers are hard to find, but Hernandez possesses that and the ability to make smart runs inside the area – which makes him even more of a rare jewel.
The way that he works space for himself in such close corridors is fascinating to watch, and exactly why Ferguson is starting him over more experienced professionals like Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen. Hernandez gives real meaning to “fox-in-the-box,” and creates a lot of his goals by outwitting accomplished defenders.
Against Everton, Chicharito faced two very experienced defenders in Phil Jagielka and Sylvan Distin, but he showed composure and calmness thinking of different ways that he could break them down. He used timing, quickness and surreal athletic ability.
Most youngsters can become easily frustrated when they are being hounded by defenders or denied by a string fine saves made by a goalkeeper, but not him. His style of if at first you don’t succeed is typical of a United forward.
That goal, as well as the 11 others he has scored this season, could very well make him a champion in the Barclays Premier League in the first time of asking at Manchester United, and Javier Hernandez has proven that he is worthy of such a lofty title.
Read more of Saad Noor’s articles at Red Flag Flying High