Javier Hernandez: Signing of the Season?

Last night, Javier Hernandez scored a brace to help Manchester United progress into the quarter finals of the Champions League for a record twelfth time.

The young Mexico, nicknamed ‘Chichartio’ (Little Pea) signed at the end of last season and impressed during Mexico’s short-lived World Cup, scoring the first of Mexico’s goals in their 2-0 win over France, and then a consolation in their 3-1 defeat to Argentina in the second round, going out of the World Cup hours after England.

He proved as almost-instant hit with United fans when he he scored a bizarre goal on his debut in Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Chelsea in the community shield at the start of the season, kicking the ball against his face and into the net.

The former Guadalajara hitman has had to wait patiently for his chance this season, behind Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov. Hernandez played in just 2 of Manchester United’s first 6 games this season and didn’t get a full 90 minutes until their 2-2 draw with West Brom in mid-October. He scored and then scored 2 more the following weekend, including the late winner at Stoke in their 2-1 victory.

Hernandez has scored late winners in both games versus Stoke this season as well as the winner at West Brom on new year’s day. This, and his intelligence on the field has had him compared to former Manchester United hero Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Hernandez has 10 Premier League goals in 20 appearances this season, playing 90 minutes on just 3 occasions, while 9 of those appearances has been starts. In comparison, Wayne Rooney has 7 goals in 20 Premier League games this season, of which just 2 have been from the bench.  Hernandez has 16 goals in 33 games in all competitions so far this season.

But what do statistics mean? Dimitar Berbatov is the Premier League top goalscorer so far this season with 19 goals and has seemingly lost his place to Javier Hernandez, and notably in key fixtures too. Berbatov started in Manchester United’s last Premier League game, against Liverpool, having been a substitute in the previous 3, including fixtures with Manchester City and Chelsea.

The hardworking duo of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez look to be the future of Manchester United’s strike partnership. With Nani and Antonio Valencia down the wings there is a lot of creativty and potential goal threat to come. If Manchester United purchase a creative central midfielder this summer, they’ll have something special brewing next season.

The threat of Javier Hernandez and his movement will also open up space and give more freedom to Wayne Rooney. While defences haven’t always taken Dimitar Berbatov too seriously with his lack of movement, defences have mainly been focusing on Rooney previously, taking him out of the game. With Hernandez in, defences will know they need to mark him, thus opening up space and more freedom for Wayne Rooney to come good once again.

No doubt Dimitar Berbatov will get his chances between now and the end of the season. With this weekend’s fixture being at home to Bolton Wanderers, there’s every chance he’ll start that one. Sir Alex Ferguson will continue to rotate his stars, but how much more time Berbatov gets in the big matches remains to be seen.

With Fernando Torres failing to make an impact in his first five appearances for Chelsea, Tiote at Newcastle notching up the yellow cards, Peter Odemwingie experiencing a winter droubt, Nikola Zigic only just coming good, the whole Manchester City team being inconsistent, Rafael van der Vaart is the only one in contention right now for the newcomer of the season in the Premier League.

Regardless, Javier Hernandez has been an astute signing by Sir Alex Ferguson, and at age 22, seems to have a very bright future ahead of him at Manchester United.