Man Utd Focus - Hernández must prove himself again at Old Trafford
The coming season could be a defining one in the career of Manchester United striker Javier Hernández. The 24-year-old was a revelation in his debut campaign at Old Trafford, capping it with a start in the Champions League Final against Barcelona at Wembley. However, the Mexican struggled in 2011/12, and has to prove himself once again this time round.
Hernández found the net 20 times in his debut season, but last year only managed 12 after a start to the campaign that saw an existing neurological condition revealed following a concussion suffered in training. On Monday he was left out of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad to face Everton in the league opener due to the manager preferring to select extra defensive cover on the bench. This led to speculation that Arsenal and Chelsea were interested in signing the forward who cost United in the region of £6m from Chivas de Guadalajera.
Danny Welbeck's new contract also fuelled these rumours, and with United's finances in the grip of the Glazer family, a substantial offer could prove a temptation for the club's owners. The manager has been glowing in his praise for Welbeck, who he hopes can have a long career at Old Trafford. The club is steeped in the tradition of home-grown youngsters, and supporters demand and expect them to come through and be given a chance. The England striker represents a player in the mould of stalwarts Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, who could feasibly spend his entire career at the club, which would be something less envisaged of a foreign import.
However, a departure in this transfer window for Hernández seems highly unlikely, especially to a Premier League rival. Ferguson has spoken of his delight with his current strikeforce, comparing it to the riches at his disposal in the treble season of 1999. The competition provided by the arrival of Robin van Persie ought to act as a stimulus for the Mexican to raise his bar, and not only regain the heights of his debut season, but surpass and improve upon the start he made to his United career.
Hernández possesses a burst of pace and unrivalled movement in the penalty area, together with a natural instinct to finish. The area that he must enhance is his first touch and link-up play, which can sometimes let him down. He is training and working with the ideal players to improve this aspect of his game in Wayne Rooney, van Persie and Welbeck, whose build-up play is extremely impressive. New recruit Shinji Kagawa is also accomplished in his approach play, and could help Hernández improve his own, in addition to combining his striker's runs with goalscoring opportunities.
If the Mexico international can develop his link-up play and recapture the form he showed in his debut campaign, there is more than enough room in the United attack for him to get a decent amount of game time. Ferguson is looking for his frontline to be fluid and dynamic, and will surely challenge Hernández to prove himself that he is worth his place in the side.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Man Utd v Fulham