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Javier Hernandez: How Little Pea emerged to put the big buys in the shade

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13 Apr 2011 15:55:39

Javier Hernandez: How Little Pea emerged to put the big buys in the shade

How difficult is it to buy a striker that scores goals? On recent evidence, Chelsea and Manchester City will argue it is almost impossible after spending ?100million between them on three duds. In 2011, Fernando Torres, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko have scored just one Barclays Premier League goal between them - a very ropey return. So, is the art of buying a decent striker dead? You only have to look at Manchester United's relatively low-key ?6m signing of Javier Hernandez to get a quick answer to that question. Eye on the ball: Javier Hernandez battles with John Terry at Old Trafford Have your say: Is Hernandez one of the signings of the century? Do you agree with Jamie Redknapp's high praise? Give us your verdict on the Mexican here  After scoring in another matured performance in Tuesday night's Champions League win against Chelsea, Hernandez has proved to be a revelation. The Mexican was a surprise signing last summer from Chivas of Guadalajara and after a solid start, has come on in leaps and bounds. Not since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has such an unknown taken Old Trafford by storm, and the scary thing is Chicharito - or Little Pea, as he is also affectionately known - is only going to get better. Football runs in the Hernandez family. His father (also called Javier) was part of Mexico's squad for the 1986 World Cup, while his granddad Tomas Balcazar scored against France in the 1954 tournament. The French, therefore, should have seen it coming in South Africa last year when Hernandez came off the bench to score his first competitive international goal against them - before doubling his tally later in in the World Cup in the defeat to Argentina. The tournament was a personal success for the 22-year-old, who had held his own on the biggest stage of all. Sir Alex Ferguson would have been glad he saved a few million pounds having signed him before his summer exploits. After arriving into a vastly different culture, It would have been fair to expect him to play a more supporting role at Old Trafford following his move from Central America. Many would have gave him the season to settle in. Star in stripes: Hernandez in action for former club Chivas last season But his impact has been so strong he has even forced the club's top scorer Dimitar Berbatov out of the side. The Bulgarian has not a bad season but the partnership Hernandez has formed with Wayne Rooney has been too strong to break up. It's hard to think of any previous occasion the Premier League's top scorer has been dropped to make way for an up and coming youngster - it's not a decision a manager of Fergie's experience would make lightly. Responsibility would have played a big part in his choice to fast track Hernandez, who aside from showing his potential on the pitch has shown a level head off it. Many players his age and even slightly older are often seen in a negative fashion, whether it be stumbling out of night clubs at 2am, getting involved in a bar brawl or throwing darts at youth team players. None of this excess baggage comes with Hernandez. He doesn't drink, is a devout Catholic and is set to marry his long-term girlfriend. Considering he is suddenly earning the big bucks at one of the world's biggest clubs (that has turned him into a national hero in Mexico), it is remarkable how he has taken it all in his stride and kept his feet on the ground. Hernandez ticks all the Fergie boxes, and with experienced figures like Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs in the dressing room, he is in good hands. So what of his talent? His two-goal match winning performance at Stoke back in October contained improvisation at its finest. His flick-back header was not only incredible for its technique, but it showed that even at 5ft 7in, heading the ball is not an issue. Heads up: Hernandez scored a breathtaking header at Stoke earlier this season Hernandez has displayed no outstanding weakness this season. He has been lethal at beating offside traps, is accurate in front of goal (using both feet and head), he's fast, determined and makes just as bigger impact as a sub than when he starts. And he isn't one to waste his opportunities either. After Tuesday's opener against Chelsea, he took his season tally to 15 goals from just 22 shots on target in the Premier League and Champions League. You will be hard pressed to find a better record. Regardless of whether United win the treble or end up potless, 'Little Pea' will go down as one of the signings of the season. His nomination for PFA Young Player of the Year is more than merited, and there can be no complaints should he win the award. But where next? Next season will be a much tougher campaign for him. He has been an unknown quantity this term but managers should now form more aggressive defensive plans to shackle the striker. Other than being considered more of a threat though, there is no stopping Hernandez from continuing his sharp spike upwards and becoming one of the first names on the United teamsheet. He has the talent, the right club, the right manager, the right influences around him and crucially the right attitude. Chelsea and Manchester City may come out winners in a bidding war for a striker, but it's United who take the star prize with the considerably cheaper and magnificent Mexican.  Have your say: Is Hernandez one of the signings of the century?Manchester United 2 Chelsea 1 (agg 3-1): Hernandez and Park heap more heartache on Blues Firing squad: Man United through to leave Ancelotti's future in the balanceAll the latest Manchester United news, features and opinion   Explore more:People: Edin Dzeko, Alex Ferguson, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney, Fernando Torres, Mario Balotelli, Jamie Redknapp Places: Argentina, France, Mexico, South Africa


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