Manchester United: Javier Hernandez Rises Above Doubters with Performance

Max TowleAnalyst IOctober 23, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23:  Javier Hernandez of Manchester United celebrates scoring his team's third goal to make the score 3-2 during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between Manchester United and SC Braga at Old Trafford on October 23, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Javier Hernandez is not dead yet.

Even at this early stage of the season, the Mexican striker has been written off by some—'dead wood' in the wake of the arrival of Dutch hitman Robin van Persie in Manchester.

Granted, his performances the past couple of months haven't been the most impressive. Missing a penalty doesn't help matters, but then, who in a red shirt hasn't this season?

Talk of a January transfer has swelled with every game he's started on the bench, the likes of Juventus and Atletico Madrid circling like sharks in reported audacious moves (via The Guardian).

It had seemed that Danny Welbeck was the primary back-up to RVP in Sir Alex Ferguson's mind, an assumption that was more than likely correct before tonight.

But given the opportunity to start against Braga in a Champions League showdown, Hernandez wasn't going to let the chance to prove the doubters wrong pass by.

On yet another quiet night at Old Trafford, the effort and the tireless energy of the Little Pea spoke loudest of all.

2-0 down thanks to a remarkably quick for his age forward named Alan, and a potentially embarrassing scoreline looming, regular heroes van Persie and Rooney looked incapable of breaking through a stubborn back line.

That's not to say that Chicharito was the only bright spot on a gloomy night—the Red Devils undoubtedly played some of their best football of the season in the come-from-behind win—only that the Mexican's display helped elevate his team to another level.

Known primarily as a poacher, Hernandez did much to shake off the shackles of a somewhat negative term for a striker.

His touch was better that I think it's ever been—his passing too.

In the air, his leap was majestic—two headed goals could have easily been three were it not for an equally determined goalkeeper named Beto.

There often comes a moment in these types of dogged games—often a single move or touch or run—where you suddenly realise you're watching something very special indeed.

For Hernandez, that moment came in the wake of his being shoved towards the sideline by two Braga bullies, before spinning past the both of them and setting off in the direction of the opposition goal.

With a roar of encouragement coming from the Old Trafford faithful, head up, ball at his feet, Hernandez instantly had his swagger back.

His pass with the outside of the boot to Nani on the opposite wing was as audacious as it was perfect.

The subsequent volley from the Portuguese enigma was saved by Beto, preventing a goal that would surely have ranked amongst the most legendary in recent years.

The 3-2 win was really academic after Chicharito's winner minutes later—an inevitability that Braga could not escape.

They are not Benfica, or Basel for that matter. United are making all the right moves in Europe this season to suggest a deep run in the tournament is imminent.

Grinding group stage wins characterised their last run to the final in the 2010/11 season, where early blow-out results were scarce.

Hernandez was a part of that team spirit Tuesday, if not the leader of the gang.

He is a player who puts team before self—he would rather United win it all and he not score a single goal in the process, than the other way around.

Glory could not come to a more deserving individual.

There will certainly be tougher tests ahead—it remains to be seen if he has done enough to earn a place in Sir Alex's team for the apocalyptic, clock-stopping showdown with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this weekend.

At the very least, he has given his manager more than just food for thought—his performance Tuesday night was more like a full-blown feast with all the trimmings.

If diamonds are forever in terms of the team's formation, Hernandez may just be set for his best season yet.

At Old Trafford, where he belongs.

What did you think of Javier Hernandez's performance Tuesday?

Follow @MaxTowle


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