What Next Fot Javier Hernandez? Reasons Why the Striker Needs to Improve...
Javier Hernandez was impressive last season. Entering the match in the last twenty minutes or so, he frequently found the back of the net, giving Manchester United some close victories that helped them to win the EPL.
His movement caused defenses many problems and was able to capitalize on the mistakes by the opponents using his sheer pace. His partnership with Wayne Rooney was significant, enabling Rooney to improve his assist tally, making him the most all-around forward in Europe despite scoring fewer goals. Chicharito was able to secure his starting spot in Sir Alex Ferguson’s "big match team" and was a starter in the Champions League Final against Barcelona.
However, Chicharito cannot be called a modern center forward, but a poacher.
Starting from Andriy Shevchenko, the so-called modern center forwards need much more all-around game. Marco Van Basten may have pioneered what was called a universal striker, but the Ukrainian was the one who raised the level of the strikers to the current status. Nowadays, forwards are not limited to just finding the back of the net, but also improving the team’s overall game.
The best example is Chicharito’s teammate Rooney. He has improved his ability to defend from the front significantly—a concept alien to English football in the last decade—and deservedly secured his spot on the team at the expense of his predecessor—the Dutch Predator Ruud van Nistelrooy. The Dutch was one of a dying breed of strikers labeled "penalty box predators"—a more respectable term than "poacher". Hence it was a shock when Sir Alex Ferguson decided to sign a poor old Michael Owen past the peak of his game.
However, the poachers are not completely worthless.
Filippo Inzaghi, the man who was “born in an offside position” still saves the day for AC Milan. Even Chicharito has been able to score some last-minute goals in some matches that headed towards stalemate.
The problem is when a team has a poacher like Chicharito, they make themselves vulnerable to contain possession of the ball as the player lacks the ability to rotate the ball among the teammates. When van Nistelrooy left Manchester United, the overall game improved significantly with the trio of Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez rising to fame.
Sir Alex Ferguson has learned some lessons from the thrashing from Catalans at the Champions League Final last season and signed some good players, most importantly Ashley Young, the most versatile forward in England after Rooney.
Despite being ill early in the season, Young has caught the attention of the fans with brilliant performances. Ferguson was criticized for not being able to sign a good central midfielder—I agree—but he avoided an unnecessary transfer of Wesley Sneijder after Manchester United’s strong attack of Rooney, Young and Luis Nani.
These three players brought back the memories of Tevez, Ronaldo and Rooney during their UCL-winning season with their fluidity in attack and were able to interchange their positions and occupy the opposing defense, allowing them to cover up the team’s questionable midfield.
Now Sir Alex Ferguson has a real headache coming into the important stage of the league. He has to choose whether (a) keep the trio of Rooney, Nani and Young for more fluid attack, or (b) use a static field with Chicharito as an out-and-out striker. However Chicharito's good off the ball movement signals the things to come, but no waste in trying to link up more with the other players.
I believe Chicharito should be used as an impact sub. Manchester United can work out the opposition defenses with the trio, as they have been superb this season and if it doesn’t work, Chicharito can enter at the latter half of a game and implement Plan B. Every team needs one, even Spain, who looks at Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente when things aren't happening too well.
After all, it’s important Chicharito understands that he has to improve his all-around game as Owen did. The latter understood it near the end of his prime after being dropped from Real Madrid’s plans, but the Mexican rookie has more time to adapt with players like Rooney for support.
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