It’s difficult to describe exactly how great – and how unexpected – Javier Hernandez’s first season with Manchester United was. He attracted the interest of United’s scouts in Mexico after they’d seen him in action in a few games. The club registered their interest but it was the World Cup that forced their hand as they were keen to snap him up before any sparkling performances on the grand stage drove up his price-tag. As such Hernandez agreed a deal to sign for Man United back in April 2010. Given that he was just 22-years-old at the time I’m sure he was viewed as one for the future.
Instead he exploded onto the scene in his very first season with the club. He grabbed his first goal in his first appearance for the club with a lobbed finish in the 2010 MLS All-Star Game. Two days later he scored in a friendly with his old club Chivas before netting for the third pre-season game in a row against the League of Ireland XI.
This rich vein of form gave Sir Alex Ferguson little excuse but to introduce him into the first team and give him a shot to prove himself in the Premier League. And he did exactly that, grabbing 13 goals in 27 appearances. What impressed most about Hernandez, however, was his wonderful movement and his ability to wreak havoc amongst opponent defences.
Sadly, however, he hasn’t been able to replicate his goal-scoring form this season and questions have begun to be asked about what else he adds to this Manchester United side. In the interest of fairness, it’s paramount that we mention he has taken a few knocks this season and spent a decent amount of time on the sidelines.
This, however, is true of most United players this season and it’s disappointing that Hernandez’s form has been affected so negatively by his time out. Besides he has still made 30 appearances this season and scored only 10 goals (that’s a rate of a goal every three games – contrast this with last season’s rate of a goal every 2 and a quarter games).
Whilst the decline in goal-scoring form may not be as significant as first imagined, it’s the other areas of his game which have suffered significantly. He’s started to get more wasteful – just look at the opportunities he missed against Athletic Bilbao at a time when United were desperate for goals. He also doesn’t display the technical ability that the likes of Dimitar Berbatov and Danny Welbeck can effortlessly tap into.
He’s the kind of player who operates well when United are in complete control of a game, as he can do his work within the box without having to worry about chasing back, coming deep and disrupting the flow of his game. He’s also having some trouble reading the line. As such, it’s only natural that questions have begun to be raised about what he offers United.
It was impossible to expect that he’d have as great a season as he had last year. Perhaps expectations were too high but at the rate things have progressed I can’t help but feel that Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen should be getting more of a look in.
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