On Saturday afternoon’s frustrating 1-1 draw with Arsenal, it was ‘super-sub’ Oliver Giroud who popped up with a bitter last-ditch equaliser. Netting four goals in four games for Arsenal, the Frenchman – despite his scoring form – is struggling to break into Arsenal’s starting line-up.
Not good enough for the first eleven, but too good for the bench – remind you of anyone?
Unearthed by Ferguson in 2010, Hernandez cost the club a measly £7 million transfer fee. Although relatively unknown at the time, the Mexican swiftly went on to establish himself as a tantalising asset in United’s forward arsenal. Remembered for his sublime movement, blistering pace and surprisingly good aerial ability, the Little Pea had a tendency in scoring big last-minute goals – here’s a reminder of the player we all loved.
Moreover, his burning passion and love for club gained him notoriety and popularity amongst the fan base. With the game cluttered with prima donna’s, Javier Hernandez came off as a player with a sense of genuineness, gratitude and humility; his love for the sport came first, and he relished every moment he had with Manchester United.
However, despite his goal scoring feat (and head!), the Mexican suffered from a lack of profile. Despite displacing Dimitar Berbatov in the second half of the 2010/11 season, Hernandez simply couldn’t nail down a permanent starting spot. The following season Hernandez was ousted by flamboyant Danny Welbeck, and thereafter Dutch sensation, Robin van Persie.
Despite showcasing his talent wherever possible, the Mexican was overlooked time and time again. The Mexican was an invaluable asset from the bench, utilising his pace and movement against tired defenders gave Sir Alex Ferguson a tactical ace, and his last-minute goals drew his super-sub trademark.
Why didn’t he start? Fans would argue it’s down to his very limited game-style. Javier Hernandez is a player reliant on supply; he doesn’t carve out his own opportunities. His first touch is poor, his distribution is limited, and he isn’t particularly inept at interplaying with teammates.
Although he was undoubtedly a more dangerous striker than Welbeck, the latter was chosen over him due to his work-rate and the chemistry he had with his teammates.
Radamel Falcao’s arrival from Monaco in 2014 essentially ended Hernandez’ United career, with the Mexican initially joining Real Madrid on loan before moving to Bayer Leverkusen 2015 for approximately £7.3 million – something Rio Ferdinand labelled the ‘business deal of the last 3-4 years’.
Hernandez is Leverkusen’s star man, with the entire team engineered to supply him chances, and he’s absolutely flourishing scoring 22 in 36 games.
Although he undeniably had ability to snuff out goals, his game was far too limited. To lead the line at a title contending club, a striker needs to offer more than just goals. That’s why his move to Leverkusen, a tier down from the European elite, has allowed him to flourish.
He’s showcased his ability to be a top-level striker, scoring 17 goals in 28 appearances last season, and with our lack of conversion in the last eighteen months, you wonder if United let him go too prematurely – after all, he was never given the license to lead United’s line for any extended period of time.
One thing is for certain – with a market so short of star quality up front, only time will tell how costly selling a proven, international striker in Hernandez for a measly £7.5 million could be.