The Little Pea came up big.
Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez was a lifesaver for Manchester United in its 3-2 win over Braga on Tuesday, scoring two goals and making his case for an expanded role with the Red Devils.
If nothing else, he's forced Sir Alex Ferguson to admit that he has quite the conundrum on his hands when it comes to setting his lineup. From Phil McNulty of BBC Sport:
"The boy is improving all the time," Ferguson said. "He is fantastic in training and he's always practising.
"His goal ratio for us is fantastic. For his second goal he bends around the back of the defender. It is a great ball in from Tom Cleverley but his movement is terrific.
"He's given me a problem - but that's a good thing."
Hernandez has a battle on his hands to earn more playing time. Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck have been given a larger role this season, but Chicharito stepped out of the shadows on Tuesday.
Given more playing time, Hernandez should be able to remind folks that he is a natural goal scorer who moves incredibly well without the ball and can finish in a variety of manners.
And he has enough pace that I think United can play him wide rather than in a central striking role (though I think he is best as a true striker). Welbeck is capable of playing out wide in a pinch as well, while van Persie and Rooney are each options as deeper-lying second strikers.
In other words, if Ferguson continues to remain creative with how he sets his lineup, there's no reason why Hernandez can't be a more regular fixture for the Red Devils. He has three goals and an assist in nine appearances for United this year, but only four of those appearances have been starts.
And c'mon—if he's good enough to inspire a cartoon, surely he's good enough to start more matches, yes?
The question will be how Ferguson decides to utilize Chicharito during a hugely important stretch of games for the Red Devils in the next two weeks. The team faces Chelsea twice next week (once in the league, once in the Capital One Cup), plays Arsenal and then travels to Portugal to face Braga again in Champions League play.
Chicharito deserves to feature in a few of those fixtures. He's proven that he can score timely, much-needed goals for the Red Devils. And with the way the defense has played this year—Manchester United has conceded first in eight of 12 games—the team needs all the offensive punch it can muster.
Given the chance, the Little Pea will come up big. In the next two weeks, he'll hopefully be given the chance.
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