It’s coming up to a year since United signed an unknown quantity from Mexico. Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez signed from Guadalajara for an undisclosed fee believed to be just £6 million.
I’ll be honest, when news filtered through that Fergie had snapped an unproved, unheard of, untested striker I was thinking more Manucho – less Solskjaer, another Bellion or Diouf.
He’s surpassed all my expectations, but I’m not alone. It seems Fergie feels the same.
“As we said to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, we thought his first season would be about integration.
“Solskjaer played in a few reserves games and scored a hat-trick against Leeds. After that (coach) Jim Ryan came to me and said he is a first team player. We made him a sub the following week against Blackburn and he scored.
“The only advantage for Hernandez was that he’d played in the World Cup so there was a profile attached to him and he had also come from a much tougher domestic competition.
“Hernandez is fantastic at taking up positions inside the penalty box.
“It is natural. He has the instinct to move around and his timing is terrific..
“There have only been a few top strikers who have had that quality.”
Same with Wayne Rooney. What no-one – least of all Rooney – appreciated at that stage was precisely what value Javier Hernandez was about to bring to the club. On 20 October, he had started only four games and scored twice in competitive games. Against Schalke, the partnership with Rooney looked more irresistible than ever.
Discussing their rapid blend – and his own new role as an old-fashioned No10 operating behind the Mexican – in detail for the first time, Rooney said it was not something he had discussed with Ferguson in advance. “I obviously saw and understood Chicharito and the way he plays and I knew if I was playing up front with him I would have to change and maybe play a bit deeper and try and link the play a bit,”
Rooney said. “It has worked for us. He’s been a fantastic signing and has scored a lot of goals – important goals as well – and I’m enjoying getting on the ball and linking play and getting a few goals.
“Sometimes when you play up front on your own you’re not really in the game as much, you’re sort of waiting for your opportunity to score.”
“When you play in the position, you’re always involved. You can get on the ball and create and score goals. As a footballer you enjoy that.”
Though this United squad have been characterised as an inferior one to those who reached the 2008 and 2009 finals, Rooney believes they are superior in certain areas. “We are controlling games a lot better than we probably were in the lead up to those two [Champions League] finals,” he said. “Then we were about counter-attacking and a lot of pace and now I think we are controlling games a lot more and having a lot more possession.
The most remarkable thing about Hernandez is not just that he scores goals, but that he scores vital goals.
He has netted seven late winners for United during the campaign, including one against Everton last weekend. But is he the best Premier League signing of the season? RFFH says: YES!
Continued on page two.