It’s a striking solution that would cause any manager a severe migraine. With managers often dealt selection headaches, Javier Hernandez has done just that at Manchester United. The Mexican, nicknamed Chicharito – The Little Pea – has recently fired his way back into Sir Alex Ferguson’s thoughts with his latest outings for United.
Reports had suggested Hernandez could well be on his way out of Old Trafford in recent months, yet appears to have all but re-emerged as a rival to Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, especially with his recent brace against Aston Villa.
However, if push came to shove, who would you pick to play up front and why? We make the case to determine which striker Ferguson should play.
As mentioned, Chicharito has once again staked his claim for a regular starting spot this season after appearing to be bottom of the pecking order following the arrival of Van Persie. However, after a brace in the 3-2 win over Braga in the Champions League and the winner over Chelsea during the highly charged 3-2 victory against Chelsea and Hernandez is back in Ferguson’s plans.
Both encounters may’ve been overshadowed by an abject defensive display and reports of racial abuse being directed in the way of John Obi Mikel by referee Mark Clattenburg, respectively, but the Mexican has again fired his way to prominence. His double over Villa saw Ferguson confirm that he will start in United’s next game against Norwich City on Saturday.
What makes Hernandez such a threat for United is his uncanny ability to know where the net is. Lethal in the 18 yard box and possessing the knack of being in the right place at the right time. If you give him the chance to think about what he needs to do, he usually fluffs any opportunity, as witnessed during United’s 3-1 win over Braga last week.
However, he is one of the games ultimate poachers and when chasing a game, or looking to net a decisive goal in an encounter, Chicharito is the perfect striker for the role.
As one of United’s highest paid players, it’s hard to overlook Rooney for a starting spot. 34 goals in all competitions for the Manchester giants last season has seen the England international nominated for the Ballon d’Or, an award that will inevitably be picked up by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
Rooney, it has to be said, has made a slower start to the season than previously anticipated, much of which is due to a leg injury he suffered back in August. Nevertheless, three goals this season, as a result of the signing on Van Persie, isn’t as bad a return as many are making out.
However, there are those that, regardless of him making his mark as a youngster with that goal against Arsenal with Everton 10 years ago, this year is the one to determine the success of Rooney. Many have anticipated a drop into midfield will help improve the England international, who is all but set to go on his baron winter run.
Fortunately, Ferguson can call upon van Persie and Hernandez should the inevitable happen, but it would possibly be wiser for Rooney to drop into midfield sooner rather later if he is to prove himself to the watching world.
Robin van Persie
The big money signing over the summer from Arsenal, Van Persie has begun to repay the faith shown in him by Ferguson, netting 11 times in 14 games for United this season. After playing his first full season for the Gunners last year, finishing the league’s top scorer with 30 goals, the chance to pick up silverware was evidently too much for the Dutchman to turn down.
Having entered the final year of his contract, and refusing to sign a new deal, it wasn’t a shock to see Arsenal accept a £24m bid from United for Van Persie. Undoubtedly the club’s leading front-man, no matter the form of the aforementioned duo, one is of the opinion that the former Gunners ace will only be dropped should he suffer an injury or suspension.
Nevertheless, with the current system Ferguson sets up, it is evident for all to see that van Persie is the out-and-out front-man, leading it more than likely that Rooney will support him in the number 10 role. Unfortunately, the means that Hernandez is likely to be the one to miss out on a starting spot, regardless of his form.
It's also a decision that I agree with. Chicharito is a better player to come off the bench rather than start. Van Persie and Rooney both bring more to their respective games and it's likely that Ferguson would persist with the duo rather than tinker with his system that has got United to the summit of the Premiership.