By Rasheed Abu Bakar
It was 17 years ago when BBC pundit Alan Hansen coined the term “you can’t win anything with kids” after Manchester United’s 3-1 loss to Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Back then, United had just sold Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis in the off-season and promoted the likes of David Beckham, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes into the first team.
Since then though, United have never lost at Villa Park in the league again. On top of that impressive statistic, Villa-United games have always entertained and last weekend’s encounter was no different.
Two goals down at halftime, Sir Alex Ferguson replaced ineffective ex-Villa boy Ashley Young with a diminutive Mexican who was not contented to stay in the shadows of the club’s preferred front two. Wayne Rooney was shifted to the left and Javier Hernandez, or Chicharito, which means 'Litte Pea' in Spanish, turned the game on its head to seal all three points for United.
Dubbed the 'new Ole Gunnar Solskjaer', Hernandez is the kind of striker who annoys the hell out of defenders. He has pace, is very quick in changing directions, can score with both feet and has the penchant of losing his marker in the penalty box.
In the first half, United once again failed to convert their possession into goals and soon found themselves two goals down early in the second half. Most teams would have panicked and thrown men forward but having been in this position on numerous occasions this season, United remained patient and finally broke Villa down.
Scoring against United is no mean feat, so Villa’s two quick-fire goals in five minutes instilled a further sense of belief in Paul Lambert’s relatively young side. However, it was those very same goals which put them in the driving seat that eventually cost them the win.
Like the giant whom Jack accidentally awoke after climbing the beanstalk, United sprung to life and found more urgency in their play. It takes more than a team of talented individuals to overcome a situation of the kind United found themselves in at Villa Park.
The ability to not panic and continue doing what they do best was the key to United’s win and of course, having such a clinical striker in Hernandez certainly helped.
I remember reading some tweets from United supporters on how the club should have sold Hernandez after reported interest from Spanish clubs last season. With the arrival of Van Persie, they thought it could have been the right time to cash in on the Mexican who had a relatively good first season but failed to reproduce his form from the following term.
But Ferguson knew he had a gem in Hernandez and there was no way he was going to let the Mexican go, and on Saturday, we saw exactly why.
As a United supporter, this is the win I was craving for. A hard-fought-kick-in-the-butt type of win. The sort of win that not only reminds the players that they have to be more clinical, but also one that sends out a message to our rivals.
I am crossing my fingers, and hoping this marks the start of a really good run for United.
Rasheed's love for Manchester United started way back in the nineties after he watched a crazy old Scot named Sir Alex Ferguson run onto the sacred grass of Old Trafford, screaming and jumping for joy as Steve Bruce headed in the winner against Sheffield Wednesday in the 1992-93 season – easily one of the most influential games that spurred United to claim the the inaugural Premier League title. Since then, it has been Manchester United and nothing else.