Manchester United’s miniature Mexican forward has been the saviour of his club of late, despite only sporadically claiming a starting berth.
His latest heroics began in late October, when he netted a brace against Braga, after being 2-0 down, to complete an admirable 3-2 fight back. Five days later he scored the controversial winner against Chelsea, and only two weeks ago he came off the bench, at half time against Villa, to act as the goal scoring catalyst in another 3-2 fight back.
Put simply when Hernandez is on the pitch he is one of the most potent strikers in English football. But that’s the problem, the man known as ‘The Little Pea’ is not a regular starter, which begs the question should Hernandez leave Manchester United?
In football terms Hernandez can no longer be classed as a youngster. At the age of 24 most footballers, with any self worth, would like to be established starters in their chosen career. At Manchester United Chicharito is arguably fourth choice striker behind Rooney, Van Persie and Welbeck. Although his recent exploits may well have edged him ahead of Welbeck in the pecking order?
Hernandez has the potential to be one of the world’s leading strikers, but you don’t get that kind of accolade by warming the bench as fourth choice striker. I understand the need for rotation, to cope with the rigours of the modern game, but if Hernandez ever wants to bask in the satisfaction of being the league's top goal scorer, a contender for the Ballon d’Or, or any other individual award then he needs to be a regular starter.
The Mexican has scored 40 goals in 94 appearances for Manchester United, with 8 in 13 coming this season so far. Those are the kind of statistics that would make him the star striker for most teams in Europe, and were he to leave Old Trafford there would be no shortage of clubs queuing for his prolific services. Sir Alex is hugely unlikely to want to lose Hernandez but, it would be harsh to stand in the way of his career if he did decide that a move would further his career.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer carved out a career as a ‘super sub’ for United but, I’m certain that Hernandez wouldn’t want to settle for that tag to sum up his career. When Chicharito is given the opportunity at United he invariably takes it, but it’s still not enough to warrant a regular start. Matters are unlikely to change unless one of his rivals suffers from a long term injury, or an extreme lengthy lack of form.
The most obvious question to this scenario is where else would he go? At Manchester United Hernandez is at a club that consistently challenges for some of the most sought after titles in world football. He is a player deserving of one of Europe’s elite.
But as is the way of modern football he may well face a similar story if her were to move to another top club. In England the competition for a starting place at rivals City would be equally tough, and although Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool or Spurs could easily accommodate him it is unlikely that United would sell to a Premier League club. In Spain only Barcelona and Real Madrid could guarantee the Mexican consistent Champions League football. But Barcelona doesn’t really play with an out and out striker and at Madrid even Benzema struggled to find first team action.
So the wisest move for Chicharito, to guarantee a Champions League environment, would most likely be Juventus, Bayern Munich or Dortmund. But then he would be playing in a league widely considered as inferior to the Premiership or La Liga. Alternatively he could choose to play his football in another continent but would face the same inferiority complex. In short Hernandez would probably have to drop down a standard to become a regular ‘star striker,’ just to work his way back to the top in the hope that, with age and undoubted experience, his fortunes may change. That would seem a rather pointless cycle to many.
Hernandez’s appearance record at United is also not as bad as some may think. In his first season, in all competitions, he was involved in 45 games. The following season was a slight drop at 36, and so far this campaign he has made it onto the pitch 13 times. That is no disgrace for a player entering only his third season in a football league completely, and literally, foreign to what he was accustomed to. Maybe his patience will eventually be rewarded, and there are not many clubs that a player would like to play for other than Manchester United.
The majority of Manchester United fans will no doubt answer ‘NO’ to this question. But, for the sake of Hernandez career, do you think that ‘The Little Pea’ should leave Old Trafford?
image: © eschipul