Javier Hernandez: United Forward's Poor Play Can't Be Blamed on Injuries
Since competing for Mexico in last summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup with Mexico, things have been rocky for Javier Hernandez at Old Trafford.
Last July, an errant ball hit him in the head and caused him to fall to the ground. The Guardian reported that he "sustained a mild concussion," but that he'd been given the all-clear by Manchester United medical staff. No big deal, right?
Days later, ESPN reported that Dr. Rafael Ortega of Hernandez's former club, Chivas de Guadalajara, "has warned Manchester United that the striker could have a long-term neurological condition ... I don't know if there is a connection between the two situations. I'm not up to date with the current situation, we would have to speak to a neurologist."
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson didn't rush him back. No need, it's still the summer and the Red Devils were loaded with talent.
But league matches started and Chicharito missed the season opener against West Bromwich Albion. Was this a more serious issue than Ferguson was letting on? How long would it take Hernandez to get into match fitness? The striker earned playing time during the last 10 minutes of a 3-0 win against Tottenham and then the last 60 minutes of an 8-2 win against Arsenal early in the season, but he wasn't contributing.
Then, on September 10, Manchester United hosted Bolton and Hernandez played a full 90 minutes, scoring two brilliant goals. It was now that Red Devils supporters could begin to suppress their doubts that the 23-year-old wouldn't get back to his scoring ways.
However, as the season went on, the Little Green Pea was a little lacking of form. In the first three months of the season, Hernandez scored just four goals in league play and did absolutely nothing in his Champions League appearances.
Compare that with last season and you'll find that Chicharito scored more goals with less time on the pitch.
Now we're in the dead of winter and Manchester United is spending the weekend of December 3 to visit a struggling Aston Villa side. Hernandez goes down with a nasty ankle injury and does some ligament damage. He came back weeks later, but struggled to get healthy and therefore earned a lot of time on the bench.
He wouldn't contribute a goal or assist until January 31 when he netted a score against Stoke City and then another the next week on February 5 against Chelsea.
"Okay," thought Manchester United fans. "The Little Green Pea is back!"
The Little Green Pea didn't score another league goal until he got two on March 18 against Wolverhampton. He has yet to score or collect an assist since and in Manchester United's last match against an easy Aston Villa side, he was an unused substitute.
I'll be the first to admit that concussions are a dangerous and confusing injury. They are wreaking havoc on professional football in America and are as difficult to prevent as they are to treat. That's not even mentioning that serious ankle injuries, like the one Hernandez suffered in December, are difficult to come back from.
But have Manchester United fans actually considered the opinion that their prized striker just isn't as good as many thought he'd be?
His performance in his second full season in the Premier League tells me he isn't ready for this big a stage yet. He was ready for something bigger than Mexico, but not England.
Has Chicharito performed poorly this season?
Mexico's best striker has a respectable (but not superb) 10 goals and two assists in 27 appearances, but look at the Premier League opponents he's scored against this season: Bolton (2), Liverpool, Everton, Swansea City, Newcastle United, Stoke City, Chelsea, Wolves (2).
Danny Welbeck can score against those opponents, and I'm sure he didn't cost Manchester United the arm and leg that Hernandez did. Chicharito signed a deal that was so lucrative it included the Red Devils coming to Chivas de Guadalajara as the first opponents in the Mexican club's new stadium—a match that included Hernandez "coincidentally" scoring the game's (and stadium's) first goal.
Is Chicharito a good football player? Yes. Is he the right fit as Wayne Rooney's attacking partner? No. He's been inconsistent and has succeeded against inferior competition or taken advantage of a decent team being in a rut.
Can any of that be blamed on injuries? Absolutely not.
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