When West Ham announced the signing of Javier Hernandez in July last year there was a slight shock in the footballing world. Not a major earthquake, but at least a minor tremor as many wondered how the Hammers, who finished 11th in the Premier League the year before, had convinced the Mexican to leave Bayer Leverkusen where he was playing the best football of his career.
After his five year stint at Manchester United, which also included a season-long loan spell at Real Madrid, Hernandez had built a reputation for being one of the best poachers in European football. The 5ft 9in striker was a master of operating in the opposition’s box and he would rarely score from anywhere further than 12 yards out.
Hernandez eventually scored 59 goals in 158 games at United, but many Red Devils fans would have been disappointed to see him sold and many thought he was often denied the chances that he deserved by Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, Ryan Giggs and Louis van Gaal.
During his two seasons in Germany with Leverkusen, Hernandez, who is also known as Chicharito, netted an impressive 39 goals in 76 appearances in all competitions, proving what he could do when given an extended run in a starting XI.
Last season was then Chicharito’s first back in the Premier League as the Hammers parted with £16m to sign him for the then manager Slaven Bilic. In November though, West Ham were floundering in 18th place and Bilic was replaced by David Moyes.
Moyes oversaw a reasonably strong revival, moving Marko Arnautovic into a central striker role where he often played alongside Hernandez and the pair showed glimpses of dovetailing well. The Hammers eventually finished 13th and even took a point away at Stamford Bridge in April this year, with the Mexican scoring the crucial equaliser just three minutes after coming off the bench.
The goal was classic Hernandez as he held back around the penalty spot anticipating a pull-back, which duly came in brilliant fashion from his partner Arnautovic and Hernandez slammed it home past Thibaut Courtois, proving just why they should be given the chance to start together more.
Hernandez would go on to record eight goals in 28 Premier League appearances last season, but only 16 of these were starts. For the now 30-year-old, the frustration has continued with Chilean boss Manuel Pellegrini taking over the reigns at the club during the summer.
Pellegrini though is making a huge mistake by leaving Hernandez out of the team, and made an even worse decision by sending on Michael Antonio when his main man Arnautovic was injured in the second half against Everton. In his only two starts this season against Bournemouth in the league and AFC Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup Hernandez has recorded a goal and an assist.
The diminutive Mexican has all the qualities of a 15-20 goal a season striker and could easily form an impressive partnership with 29-year-old Arnautovic were both of them on form, and crucially, given the chance to regularly play together.
West Ham’s opponents at the London Stadium this weekend are Chelsea. Now managed by Maurizio Sarri, the Blues are looking like a far better side than last season, when the Hammers took four points off them over the home and away fixtures. Still, if Pellegrini wants to be the first manager this season to test Chelsea and attack them then he should seriously consider starting Hernandez and Arnautovic together.