Why Much-Improved Javier Hernandez Deserves a Shot in Man Utd's Starting XI

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterNovember 5, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25:  Javier Hernandez of Manchester United in action during the Capital One Cup Third Round match betwen Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on September 25, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Javier Hernandez is not playing and he's not happy.

That he is retweeting Sky Sports articles on the possibility of him moving on from Manchester United is indicative of his disposition, as with just a single Premier League start this season, it would be understandable for the Mexican to succumb to itchy feet.

His role has been almost solely restricted to Capital One Cup duties under David Moyes, and on his big chance to impress in the league, he turned in a rather anonymous performance in a 2-1 home defeat to West Bromwich Albion.

Chicharito has only struggled for game time in one of his previous three seasons at Old Trafford, and he's always managed to find a way to score goals. He's a born poacher and a natural finisher, and his ruthless streak in the box has always seen him tally them up year after year.

He'll have an eye on the 2014 FIFA World Cup next summer in Brazil should his nation overcome a playoff vs. New Zealand, and his lack of sharpness has been a serious issue throughout qualification.

At 25 years of age he may be tempted to force the issue in January, telling the Manchester United hierarchy to either play him or let him leave. But the club can't afford to lose their beloved No. 14, and it has to start giving him reasons to stick around.

Moyes has found himself in a tough spot early this season and Chicharito's lack of appearances can be partially explained by poor early-season form.

United sit eighth in the Premier League table, having sustained domestic losses to Liverpool, WBA and Manchester City already. They are eight points off Arsenal in first place and only in the last few weeks have begun to put together some semblance of form.

The win at Craven Cottage last Saturday could well turn out to be a signal of sorts; United crushed Fulham, went 3-0 up within 22 minutes and did so without Michael Carrick. It's a result that breeds confidence and stability, and it could create an opening for Hernandez to shine.

There's no shame in admitting that Chicharito is the third-best striker at Old Trafford, behind two world-class, complete forwards in Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05:  Robin van Persie of Manchester United looks dejected with Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick after the Sunderland opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester United at the Stadiu
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Throughout a tough opening period Moyes has clung to Rooney and RvP like glue, and why wouldn't you? Lean on your best players and they'll eventually dig you out of a hole.

With five wins from the last six games, United look back on course to assault the Premier League's top four. With games building up and confidence flowing, Hernandez will find himself with more first-team opportunities.

He's significantly improved as a player during his time in England, and he's not the pure poacher many still believe him to be. He retains that deadly element to his game certainly, but he's much stronger on the ball, better at linking up and superb at dropping into space in front of the defence.

He's not the sort of player you want to be letting leave, and there are few clubs who can boast a third-string striker so competent and yet so willing to play second fiddle to others.

Give Chicharito his chance before Christmas, and you will be rewarded handsomely for your faith.