United Idols: Javier Hernandez – Chicharito had a cult following and really loved United but it never really worked out post-Sir Alex Ferguson!

Manchester United signed Javier Hernandez from Club Deportivo Guadalajara in Mexico on the 1 July 2010 with agreement coming on the 8 April that year with the work permit acquired on the 27 May. United were made aware of the player in October 2009, scouting him with Sir Alex Ferguson liking what he saw and making the move for the Mexican striker.

Chicharito win his first Premier League title in his debut season and also reaching the final of the UEFA Champions League where they lost 3-1 to Barcelona but Chicharito scored four goals in the competition that season, scoring 20 in all competitions for his new club. It was a successful first season for the first and only Mexican to play for the Old Trafford club.

During the Ferguson era at the club, Chicharito was a popular player and pretty much secured his place as a super sub, much like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, coming on late in matches and finding goals. Of course, his career did not see him only as a substitute. In his second season for United he scored 12 goals in all competitions, followed by 18 goals in his third season.

His third season at United was also the final season of Ferguson, who had managed the club for the best part of 27 years winning 13 Premier League titles, with Chicharito also winning his second league title for the club. It was after this season when things started to go wrong for both the player and United. Under David Moyes, United started to decline. Hernandez scored just nine goals.

Moyes’ time at United was short-lived with the Scottish manager being sacked at Easter 2014, not even a year into his six-year contract, Ryan Giggs took the helm for the remainder of the season. Louis van Gaal replaced Moyes after the FIFA World Cup that summer and Chicharito was starting to lose his place at the club. He made two appearances in the 2014/15 season.

On the 1 September 2014, he was loaned to Real Madrid for the remainder of that season with the Mexican finding his feet, sort of in La Liga, scoring nine goals and nine assists for the club in all competitions. There was an inclusion in the contract for the Spanish club to purchase the Mexican, but they did not end up doing that with Hernandez returning the United the following summer.

Chicharito made three appearances for United in the 2015/16 season but was sold to Bayer Leverkusen for £7.3 million on the 31 August 2015. The Mexican striker ended his United career with two Premier League titles and one FA Community Shield. He also won the FIFA Club World Cup for Real Madrid in 2014 but added nothing to his trophy haul in Germany.

Hernandez made 157 appearances for United, scoring 59 goals and 20 assists for the club, making a further 33 appearances in Madrid, scoring nine goals and nine assists. At Leverkusen, he had just two seasons at the club, making 76 appearances and scoring 39 goals and nine assists. The German club sold him to West Ham United for £16 million on a three-year contract.

Chicharito’s return to the Premier League would give him a chance to hit back at his critics. Van Gaal had been sacked at United at the end of the 2015/16 season with Jose Mourinho replacing him in the summer of 2016 with United now in their third era post-Ferguson. Injuries were a small problem for Chicharito at West Ham and he failed to shine in the Premier League again.

Chicharito scored 17 goals and four assists in 63 appearances for West Ham and he played two full seasons at the club, making two appearances in his third season before he was sold to Sevilla in a £7.3 million deal for three years. He did not stay the full three years making 15 appearances and scoring just three goals in his time there. Come January 2020 it was time for him to leave.

Chicharito made the move to the United States of America to play for LA Galaxy in the MLS. he became the highest paid player in the league and was named the captain for the 2020 season. He ended up making 83 appearances for the club, scoring 39 goals and seven assists across four seasons for the Los Angeles club before embarking on a return to Mexico.

On the 24 January 2024, it was announced that Chicharito would return to Chivas, the nickname of Club Deportivo Guadalajara, signing a two-year contract at the club his career started in 2006 as a senior player – he was part of their youth academy from 1997 though. It has been a fitting career for Chicharito and he will build on his 79 appearances, 29 goals and nine assists at Chivas.

In total, Chicharito has made 551 appearances in club football, scoring 206 goals and 58 assists and in the next two years, he really can create a legacy by continuing that. His club career produced an international career for Mexico which spanned from 2009 until 2019 where he was capped 190 times, scoring 52 goals and 13 assists. Playing 12 FIFA World Cup matches.

At United, Chicharito, also nicknamed Little Pea became a cult player with many supporters of the club hoping that he would reach the dizzy heights of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Andy Cole and even how teammate at the club, Wayne Rooney. In truth, it never happened that way but you can see the love he got from United supporters and the love he gave back.

It seemed that it was time for him to leave as everything started to become toxic at the club during the ill-fated Moyes era with him leaving in the Van Gaal era, which was also short-lived. United have never really come back from Ferguson’s era and it could well be that following a change of ownership, at least 25% so far that United could find their feet under Erik ten Hag.

Written by John Walker

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.