In an astonishing debut season, during which he netted 20 times for the Red Devils, Hernandez hit a bump in his goal-scoring streak last term, with inconsistent performances and an inability to maintain fitness.
Inevitably, the early part of the current season saw United born-and-bred Danny Welbeck, who won numerous plaudits for his silky attacking displays in the previous campaign while Hernandez was suffering from ‘second season syndrome’, as the primary back-up striker for Wayne Rooney and the Flying Dutchman, Van Persie.
Consequently, many felt that Hernandez would see reduced playing time, thus arousing questions regarding the future of the former Guadalajara youngster.
However, the 19-times champions recorded another emphatic come-from-behind win against Aston Villa a couple of weeks ago which was orchestrated by none other than the irresistible Hernandez. In an undoubtedly phenomenal cameo, Hernandez was the difference between the two sides as he came off the bench to score a remarkable brace and produce an assist when his shot deflected off Ron Vlaar for United’s equalizer.
Following that performance, the striker was anonymous when he started in place of the injured Wayne Rooney for United's away defeat to Norwich City. The whole team was accountable for under-performing on that occasion while he also failed to score in the subsequent defeat away to Galatasaray in the Champions League also having started the game. Nevertheless, it was an encouraging display from a young United side who had already qualified as group winners for the knockout stages.
On Saturday, Hernandez returned to the bench as United played host to Queens Park Rangers (QPR). With the hosts a goal down and chasing the game, Hernandez accompanied Anderson over the touchline as the pair replaced Paul Scholes and Ashley Young. The South American duo instantly quickened the pace of the game and United scored three goals in seven minutes to turn the game on its head.
The two substitutes linked up for the third gaol as Anderson went on a surging run from midfield before sliding the ball through for the Mexican who had made a great run through the middle. Hernandez's first touch was impeccable and it set him up for a net finish past the keeper to put the game to bed.
Hernandez has now scored eight goals in his last eight appearances for Alex Ferguson’s troops, including the winners against former domestic league-leaders Chelsea and Champions League counterparts Braga in the matchday four of the prestigious European club competition.
Hernandez has now found the net an impressive 41 times for Manchester United in just 97 games, with 40 of these appearances coming as a substitute, from which he scored 14 goals (statistics as per soccerbase.com).
Hence, with a large chunk of the season still left, one cannot help but wonder whether Hernandez can replicate or perhaps surpass the success of the 2010/11 season. The answer is without doubt a definite yes.
Alex Ferguson’s decision to give a full summer’s rest to the Mexican is proving to be a masterstroke as Hernandez is displaying deadly pace, lethal movement in the final third and the predatory instincts that the Old Trafford faithful enjoyed watching during the 24-year-old’s debut season.
Hernandez’s speed has often come in handy during his substitute stints as the lad is always playing on the shoulder of the last defender, stretching the opposition’s tiring backline and creating scoring opportunities for both himself and his fellow attackers.
His ability to ghost past defenders and breach the offside trap make Chicharito arguably the only player with the traits of a natural “sniffer” in the United team, an attacker who knows how to create havoc and find space in the six-yard box with his agile movement and reflexes.
Not to forget, the 43-times capped national team star’s confidence appears to be higher than it has been in the past 12 months and one can even notice a certain level of improvement in various avenues of his overall game-play.
Hernandez’s passing rate, along with his technical ability on the ball have enhanced and the player has also developed a better understanding of his midfield colleagues, with the beautiful run to latch onto Paul Scholes’ long ball for United’s opener against Villa a testament to this claim.
He might lack the vision, talent and quality of his attacking counterparts like van Persie, Rooney or even Welbeck, but his energy, excellence in converting the slightest chance into a winning goal and most importantly, the determination and heart to succeed after a lacklustre season make the ‘Little Pea’ an invaluable and unique asset to Manchester United.
A target of more than 20 goals this season is certainly not beyond a fit and in-form Javier Hernandez- considering he is already almost halfway there just around 15 weeks into the season.
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