It was July 28, 2010, the setting, Reliant Stadium in Houston Texas. The final fixture in the annual Manchester United North American pre-season tour, which saw the Red Devils take on M-L-S All-Star team. This was a match where he made his debut.
Coming on as a second-half substitute to the cheers and support from his country’s people, it didn’t take him long to make an impact. Missing his first chance at goal off a beautifully crossed ball from Tom Cleverley. He would not let the next opportunity pass him by.
While you read this, let these words paint a picture in your mind. Jonny Evans passes the ball to Darren Fletcher who was no more than five yards in front of him. Fletcher turns onto his right foot, at that moment “he” checks to the ball just enough to lose the defender marking him. He turns to make a run as Fletcher delivers a sensational through ball that lands right in front of him. It’s just him and a charging Nick Rimando as he volleys the ball over the goalie and into the back of the net. He had arrived. Javier Hernandez had made the prefect debut.
The former Club Deportivo Guadalajara striker, Chicharito as he is known, has had an amazing three years since joining United on April 8, 2010 for £6m after impressing scouts on two separate occasions.
Hernandez made his competitive debut during a 3-1 win over Chelsea in the FA Community Shield as a second half substitute, scoring Uniteds second goal of the match. It was not until August 18, 2010 when Chicharito would see his first Premiere League action, once again coming on as a substitute for Wayne Rooney. Though he was held without a goal, United went on to best Newcastle United 3-0.
In his first season with the club, Chicharito had a spectacular debut, netted 13 goals and 20 in all competition.
“We did not expect this kind of return. We thought this year would be an introductory to the club, getting adapted to English football and strengthening him up. But he has done all these things and more.” – Sir Alex Ferguson on Javier Hernandez.
With his pace, cunning runs to beat offside traps, and goal scoring abilities, he caused many problems for opposing defenders. Known as a “poacher” for his knack of scoring from close range, the Mexcian international is also an aerial threat, though he stands 5 foot 9 inches.
In 109 appearances for Manchester United in all competitions, Hernandez has found the back of the net 48 times. It is undeniable his importance to Manchester United as he has displayed in his third season. Seldom used in Sir Alex Ferguson’s already attacking, star-studded lineup, Hernandez has been the go to player off the bench.
He’s netted 16 goals in all competition this year, 4 off the mark from his debut season. His new guise as the “super sub” has been well earned, at times coming off the bench to savour Uniteds wins, noticeably the 4-3 win over Newcastle United where he scored the winning goal in the final minutes of the match, and the game winning goal in the 3-2 win against SC Braga in the Champions League.
Hernandez failed to claim his first hat trick as a United player in a 3-2 win over Aston Villa. Coming on as a substitute, Hernandez scored three times to save the Red Devils on losing 3 points to the Villans, but one goal was overturned as his strike was deflected by Ron Vlaars, making it an own goal.
With the addition of Robin van Persie during the summer transfer window, there were many speculations surrounding the Mexican striker. There were reports of Chelsea being interested in the player, but nothing came of it. A lot of pundits figure he would be the odd man out. Though true, having seen his role diminish from a lack lustre second season due to injury and international duties, the player took it with stride.
Having been dropped down the pecking order behind players like Wayne Rooney, newly acquired Robin van Persie and academy bred Danny Welbeck; it has been hard for Chicharito to get quality starting XI minutes. Most players would be frustrated at the lack of playing; he has been a professional about it.
“I am happy to be at this club. Of course I would love to start more often but I will keep the same attitude.” – Javier Hernandez
Recently, it’s been widely reported that United is interest in Atletico Madrids goal scoring machine Radamel Falcao and a supposed swap with Hernandez being the main key. It was not too long ago that noise of Wayne Rooney being sold rang through the media in order to make way for Falcao, but now it seems Chicharito is the one set to leave the Theatre of Dreams.
What United will be losing is a character player; a hard working professional, who would rather focus on the team than personal accolades, and the obvious goal threat that he is. It is quite ridiculous that he gets overlooked to Danny Welbeck who is having by far his worst season, scoring just 2 goals in all competition to Hernandez’s 16.
The player, who came into the premiere league quietly, has made quite a noise in his 3 years at Manchester United. If he is set to leave comes the summer transfer window, whichever club acquires his services will be getting a gem.