Javier Hernandez was brought into English football by Sir Alex Ferguson over two years ago from Mexican club Guadalajara and his performances have fuelled the imagination of United with his natural goalscoring ability which was showcased yet again on Saturday evening when he netted two in the 3-2 win over Aston Villa, turning the game at Villa Park on its head.
Hernandez’s match-winning header two minutes from time would seal his fifth goal in four games as he continues the pitched battle between Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney for that starting place up front for United. Hernandez got a goal against Braga in mid-week and two weeks prior to that – sparking a similar comeback against Braga at home which he netted the winner with another header to win yet another game 3-2.
The question is, is Chicharito deserving of a first-team start at Old Trafford with so many world-class names dotted about?
We have seen the phrase ‘super-sub’ banded about a bit as of late in reference to Edin Dzeko who has helped Manchester City win priceless points with his goalscoring off the bench. Hernandez isn’t the first name in United red to have this attributed to him in recent history.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored numerous times from the bench including the match-winning goals that the likes of Dzeko and Hernandez have been netting in recent weeks. The Norwegian scored goals that won crucial cup ties against fierce rivals Liverpool, put four goals past Nottingham Forest in an 8-1 away drubbing before winning United their first ever Champions League under Sir Alex Ferguson with an injury time winner.
All of these incidents happened within three-and-a-half months of each other. In comparison, Dzeko has guided Man City to victories in all nine games he has scored coming off the bench – with the 3-2 title-winning victory over QPR the most significant.
Both Manchester clubs sit on top of the league table for goals coming from substitutes, with six a piece (mainly Dzeko and Hernandez). This time last season it was Danny Welbeck who was receiving all of the plaudits and the young Englishman has barely featured in a season which featured Robin van Persie’s well-publicised 24 million switch from rivals Arsenal in August.
With this signing, Welbeck has been forced down the peg once again at United and his goals in the early part of last season have dried up. Welbeck’s decent performances made up for the lack of Hernandez goals, especially in comparison to the Mexican’s first season at United where the unknown ‘Little Pea’ had a superb first season in top-flight English football, scoring 20 in 45 appearances whilst this season has seen him notch up eight goals in thirteen games – a superb return for a bit-part player.
United had a similar set-up in the attacking options the season they won the treble – something I alluded to last season. They have their attack spearheaded by four very different forwards.
In 1999, United boasted Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole who scored goals for fun and their natural relationship with each other made them both first choice and a nightmare for the Premier League’s defences as he scored 29 in 51 outings that season. Cole finished behind him on 24 goals as the pair solidified themselves in United folklore.
The back-ups for Yorke and Cole weren’t too shabby either. Sheringham who had been tossed between White Hart Lane and Old Trafford frequently and he only did score five in that famous season. When you put into perspective that two of those were in cup finals and helped their team onto winning those three trophies – it shows that all four members put something into the line-up, something which all four of Rooney, Van Persie, Hernandez and Welbeck can all do.
Van Persie is a born goalscorer, we know that from his time at Arsenal and the way he’s notched up goals both in Europe and domestically make him a handful for any defence. He’s quickly become the league’s joint top goalscorer with eight in ten games, with eleven overall.
Wayne Rooney is where things tail off in comparison to 1999. He was bought as a bona fide star (like RVP, Yorke and Cole) and only put his goal scoring boots to frequent and devastating boots recently, as his goalscoring record shows – 87 goals in the past four seasons. However, this season he has been preferred in a free role alongside Shinji Kagawa, a new attacking threat.
Javier Hernandez is the Solskjaer of the group – netting match-winning goals from the bench and putting in good shifts when needed, just like Danny Welbeck, who, like Sheringham, his appearances were few and far between but you always have a goal in him and there’s always plenty in his locker – a lot of characteristics you wouldn’t attribute to Sheringham, but a modern day, more pacey version of the former Tottenham and Nottingham Forest talisman.
Ferguson has perfected this formula and seen it across the City at the Etihad as the group of Balotelli, Dzeko, Tevez and Aguero were used albeit differently but to the same devastating effect and ultimately won them the Premier League last season.
However, United hold a different formula with Van Persie this year and with Ferguson setting United a target of one hundred Premier League goals, it seems there’s high confidence to be had of the Red Devils’ front men.
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