The West Ham owners, former manager Slaven Bilic and the club’s supporters were understandably delighted when they brought Javier Hernandez to the London Stadium in a £16m deal from Bayer Leverkusen during the summer, and he was arguably their best signing on paper since the arrival of Dimitri Payet two years earlier.
The Mexico international, who has 49 goals in 99 caps for his country, arrived in east London having scored 39 goals in 76 matches for Bayer Leverkusen following a spell with Manchester United in which he netted 59 times in 158 appearances in total for the Red Devils.
The Hammers finally looked to have the goalscorer they had been craving for many years, and a successful campaign looked to be on the cards.
However, it hasn’t turned out that way for West Ham, or for Hernandez.
The Irons’ tough start to the season under Bilic saw them lose their opening three Premier League matches, and the 29-year-old was given little to work with up top alone in the 4-0 and 3-0 defeats against Manchester United and Newcastle United respectively, although he did score a brace in the 3-2 defeat against Southampton at St Mary’s – with the second goal coming when he moved to a wider role.
However, Hernandez has only scored two goals in 15 top flight matches since that encounter on the south coast, and he hasn’t found the net in his last seven Premier League games.
In fact, the Mexican has fallen way out of favour under new boss David Moyes – whom he also worked with during his spell at Old Trafford – only coming off of the substitutes’ in five of the last six league games.
The situation certainly won’t have impressed the former Red Devil, who has sometimes seen Marko Arnautovic and Michail Antonio – neither of which are natural strikers – start in the position even when he has been available.
Basically, West Ham are struggling to find a role in the team for Chicharito, and it has been a problem ever since the start of the season.
While the 29-year-old started up top at the beginning of the campaign, the return of Andy Carroll from injury saw him revert to a position on the left flank and even as a central attacking midfielder – two roles that he didn’t look particularly comfortable playing in.
And that is the problem. Hernandez is a penalty box poacher and needs balls to be fed to him in the box – ideally along the ground unless he is unmarked for a cross in the air.
As a lone striker, he struggles from an aerial point of view and to hold the ball up to allow his attacking teammates to get up the pitch and support him, and he has already become something of a luxury player that can’t be risked by Moyes as West Ham look to avoid being involved in a relegation battle in the second-half of the campaign.
The 29-year-old’s limitations and his inability to play alone up top were highlighted even further in the 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur last week and the goalless draw against League One Shrewsbury Town in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday.
Hernandez struggled to have any impact at all and was substituted off in the 64th minute against Spurs – being replaced by Andre Ayew who went on to play a big part in Pedro Obiang’s goal – while he came off in the 71st minute against the Shrews.
While the general situation, lack of form and confidence may not be solely down to Hernandez as he had little to work with during his time on the pitch, sometimes you have to work that little bit harder to make something happen and he often doesn’t seem to be willing to do that graft.
Nearly six months after the Mexico international signed for West Ham it is already looking like a move that won’t work out for the club or the player in the long-term, and the Irons should consider cashing in on the 29-year-old before the transfer window slams shut at the end of this month.
Despite his disappointing season his stock will still be relatively high tight now and the Irons should be able to recoup most of the £16m they spent on him in the summer, which would then allow Moyes to bring in a new striker that is likely to fit more into his and the east London outfit’s style of play.