Is Chicharito’s club situation at Manchester United good or bad for El Tri?
There has been an ongoing debate for some time now about striker Javier “Chicharito Hernandez’s situation at club side Manchester United that is worth bringing up ahead of Mexico’s crucial World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and the United States.
The fact is that Mexico’s number one forward has only played 63 minutes of soccer in March for the Red Devils, has only featured in three Premier League games in 2013 and was notably absent in both of those crucial Champions League games against Real Madrid.
As much as Sir Alex Ferguson heaps praise on the forward at every opportunity and that demanding a move from a club firmly established in the top echelon of European football would be premature, Hernandez’s situation is far from ideal.
This season, it is Manchester native Danny Welbeck that has stormed up the depth chart at Old Trafford ahead of Guadalajara’s finest and Robin Van Persie’s presence has been an unmovable obstacle to more minutes for Chicharito.
Whereas Chicharito watched from the bench in those games against Real Madrid, Welbeck was both starting and impacting the tie. But it wasn’t always that way. In the 2011 Champions League, Chicharito started the final against Barcelona, both quarters against Chelsea and one of the semifinal legs against Schalke.
With that in mind, it is difficult to argue that Chicharito has not slipped down the pecking order at Manchester United. 400 of his total 576 minutes of first team action in 2013 have come in the FA Cup. As much as Ferguson has stated the FA Cup is firmly on the agenda this season for United, there’s little doubt it paled in comparison to the Champions League when both were still on the table.
But there are two sides to this Chicharito debate from the Mexico national team point of view.
Would Mexico fans be happy if the player that has 28 goals in 44 appearances at a rate of one every 109 minutes for El Tri was being started by Ferguson twice a week? Combined with the long and difficult trip back over the Atlantic for national team duty, would we see the best of Chicharito for Mexico?
After all, Hernandez is training with top quality players on a daily basis and is still banging in the goals for Manchester United when he has been given the chance. In fact, Hernandez has netted six times in his eight appearances in 2013 at a rate of a goal every 96 minutes.
That considered, it could be argued that having a fresh Chicharito turning up well rested for crucial qualifying matches is a blessing in disguise.
The truth of the debate is probably lies somewhere in between both points of view. No national team coach wants a player showing up that is exhausted from overwork at club level, but having the nation’s star player come into two World Cup qualifiers having played just an hour’s football in the previous three weeks isn’t good either.
If Chicharito continues to get minimal minutes for Manchester United, it will eventually become a major worry for Chepo, if it isn’t already.