The amazing story of Javier Hernandez continues to amaze and shock in equal measure, the latest page of this particularly riveting novel involved a late equaliser against Liverpool at Anfield in front of the joyous (albeit depleted) section of United’s travelling support. The young Mexican’s star continues to rise.
Hernandez made the telling difference yet again on Saturday afternoon, not just with his all-important equaliser but in the way United adapted to suit his capabilities. A telling factor that shows how highly Hernandez’s ability are looked upon is that Ferguson opted to drop Rooney into centre midfield to accommodate Hernandez and Welbeck up front when he could have easily shifted Welbeck to a wide position and put Rooney up top.
Adopting this 4-4-1-1 formation allowed Hernandez to do what he does best play right on the shoulder of the last defender, suddenly for the first time in the game Liverpool’s central-defensive partnership of Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel suddenly looked concerned. Their previous ability to deal with the young and relatively inexperienced lone striker Danny Welbeck was a thing of the past as Welbeck could now drop off causing a lack of cohesion within their back four. Carragher and Skrtel were unwilling to go with Welbeck knowing the other will have been utterly outpaced should United put the ball into the subsequent gap for Hernandez to chase. It was no coincidence that United suddenly stepped it up a gear when Hernandez entered the fray, the Reds entered the game with a mind-set of stifling Liverpool, giving them little whilst quietening the crowd and hopefully nicking a goal in the process.
As it was all of the above worked apart from the ‘goal bit’, in fact for most of the game United seemed to have forgotten the ‘attacking bit’ as surges forward were few and far between. In the immediate aftermath of Liverpool’s opening goal Ferguson threw on Rooney and Nani which of cause made an instant change to proceedings however on a personal note it was the introduction of the sprightly Mexican which proved the significant interjection.
It has been said before and it will be said again but hallmarks with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continue to carry more and more credence. As good an all-round goal scorer the Norwegian was he was the archetypal ‘super-sub’, from listening to Ole in countless interviews over the year I got the impression that Solskjaer wasn’t overly keen with that tag but it should not be belittled. Being an impact substitute is an art in itself, being able to emerge on to field of play with minutes remaining whilst you are still trying to get up to speed with the other twenty-one players on the pitch. You have to adapt quickly to the pace of the game and then make a telling impact, not an easy role to thrive in. Many strikers have been given the ‘super-sub’ role including Carlos Tevez and in his first season Alan Smith however nobody has ever done it quite like Ole, until now. Solskjaer was a master of over analysing the game he was watching, thinking of how he would integrate into proceedings or take advantage of a certain weak point in the oppositions rank. Hernandez clearly has the same aptitude for attention to detail as the man revered as a legend throughout the United supporting world, indeed Hernandez has now surpassed Solskjaer in terms of impact from the bench as his goal against Liverpool was his ninth in twenty one substitutes appearances giving him a scoring record of 42.9% . Of course much like Solskjaer Hernandez also has much more in his locker than just being an impact player, he is equally as effective playing from the start.
In his fledgling United career some questioned whether or not the young Mexican could cut it over ninety minutes, would the physical aspect of the Premier League get the better of him? Herein lies another impressive aspect of Hernandez’s persona, that he is willing to put the hard yards in behind the scenes to bulk himself up and get better and better, he scored twenty goals last season and you would have to be a brave man to bet against him doing it again. It’s easy to forget that Hernandez only really became a regular starter as of March with Berbatov occupying the second striking position for the bulk of the campaign. However now that the Mexican has well and truly put Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen in the shade he has only Danny Welbeck to contest for the slot alongside Rooney.
His comparison to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have been present ever since the early stages of last season however recently Stoke manager Tony Pulis took this a step further in suggesting that Hernandez could even possess the legendary Denis Law, this takes things up another level and Chicharito does have a long way to go before achieving the dizzy heights achieved by the King of the Stretford End however he has started off his United career in the perfect vain. He has endeared himself to the Old Trafford faithful with his likeable personality and his insatiable appetite for victory, the way he bounded with sheer delight toward the United faithful after notching his second goal in two appearances at Anfield was enough to delight any Red.
Like any other position at the club comparisons are always made with previous players of by-gone eras, Valencia and Coppell, Vidic and Bruce and dare I say it Jones and Edwards. As I have already mentioned Chicharito has had his fair share of comparisons in his short time at the club, namely Solskjaer, a young Michael Owen and Denis Law. However as he gets better and better the calibre of comparison also increases in standing and talent but I ask you as forwards go who could be better than Denis Law, of course Hernandez has only been at United for just over a season and has much to do before firmly cementing these comparisons but his ability and desire to improve have ensured that the sky is the limit for Hernandez, if he really wants to get there!
By Nathan Thomas (Follow me on Twitter)
With thanks to @OSullivanMUFC for the Hernandez stats.
How does Hernández compare to Solskjaer in your opinion? Please leave your thoughts below?