With Mexico set to face Brazil on Tuesday, in one of the World Cup's more anticipated group games, Manchester United's Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez looks likely to once again be on the bench.
Has the time come for the "Little Pea" to leave United for his own good?
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera has cited Hernandez's "difficult year" as an influence on the young striker's apparent lack of confidence, per David Hytner in the Guardian.
Chicharito had a difficult year because he had a different coach to the one that brought him to the club. That coach [Sir Alex Ferguson] left and he had another one [David Moyes]. But he has an impressive market in Europe and I believe he has huge possibilities to be part of another team, being one of the starting players.
He also said, of Hernandez's contribution to Mexico's World Cup opener against Cameroon:
When Javier went on, he started the move for the goal but he also passed when he might have shot.
There is no doubt that the 2013/14 season, whilst difficult for almost every United player, was particularly challenging for Hernandez. He made just six starts in the Premier League. He was called from the bench a further 18 times, however his total of just four league goals means he was perhaps more "sub" than "super-sub."
When he scored against Aston Villa late in the season, in front of the Stretford End, his understated, unsmiling celebration stood in sharp contrast to the player who arrived at Old Trafford in 2010. He had charmed the faithful during his early United career, with his almost puppy-like enthusiasm, the sense that he was absolutely delighted to be there, and determined to give back. Every goal was celebrated with smiling delight.
And there were plenty of goals to celebrate. In his first season at the club he scored 20 times. He has been unable to match that since, but that season also saw his highest number of appearances. In Sir Alex's triumphant final season, Hernandez's 18 goals in 36 appearances saw him achieve his best goals-to-games ratio.
Moyes' arrival at the club had a disastrous effect on Hernandez, who was clearly not central to the Scot's plans. The combination of Moyes' inexperience in rotating a squad of star players, and the pressure to achieve results that he faced, meant he rarely started anyone other than his first-choice strikers when they were available to him.
Whilst the choice of Louis van Gaal as Moyes' successor may have lengthened the United tenure of Robin van Persie, it is not necessarily good news for Hernandez. Although Holland have started this World Cup with Van Persie and Arjen Robben up-front, in a 3-5-2 formation which Van Gaal has concocted to compensate for the absence of Kevin Strootman, Van Gaal's historic preference is to play with one No. 9 and two wide forwards.
Given Van Persie's quality, and his relationship with Van Gaal, both on wonderful show during Holland's recent thrashing of Spain, it is extremely unlikely that Hernandez will be first-choice centre-forward for United next season.
Whilst he has fine qualities as a striker, he is not on the level of Van Persie, and does not offer the tactical flexibility of Wayne Rooney or Danny Welbeck, both of who can play up front or as wide forwards.
A season as a substitute has cost Hernandez his place in the Mexican starting line-up for the World Cup. It seems unlikely he will be content to pay such a price to remain at Old Trafford.
It would be a tremendous asset for United if Hernandez was happy to spend another campaign as back-up and impact substitute, but for the sake of his own career, he would surely be better off starting regularly elsewhere.
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