Rooney and Hernandez partnership shows all the signs of a dream pairing for Manchester United

Manchester United’s last two games have been of the utmost importance in terms of their season’s ambitions. Following consecutive Premier League defeats at the hands of Chelsea and Liverpool, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men needed two big results to keep their trophy hunt for the season on track. Saturday’s win over Arsenal followed by their tense win over Marseille last night were just what the doctor ordered, although the performances weren’t exactly convincing.

However, the key factor behind both wins was that of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez’ superb link-up as they scored three of the four goals between them in the two games, setting each other up on an occasion each too, while also being involved in Fabio da Silva’s goal. Starting Hernandez instead of Dimitar Berbatov for the crunch Champions League game last night was a huge show of faith in the young Mexican, showing just how impressed Fergie was with his performance against Arsenal.

Hernandez’ movement and genuine goalscoring ability makes him a perfect fit alongside Rooney up front. It also seems to bring the best out of Rooney himself, who has so clearly struggled for form this campaign, but has shown somewhere near his best in the last two games. The former Everton forward has always revelled in dropping deep where his ability to spot the runs of teammates is at its best, while also spraying balls out to either flank. With Hernandez stretching the defence, always on the shoulder of one of the centre-backs, Rooney is able to find an excellent pocket of space in between the opponent’s midfield and defence in order to create opportunities.

Although Rooney has shown he has the goalscoring capabilities to be the focal point of an attack, his best attributes are his vision and awareness rather than his finishing, which is why he is more suited to a more creative role. He clearly enjoys racking up assists in the same way he takes delight in scoring goals, so this latest role could well revitalise him. Furthermore, Hernandez is seemingly programmed to score goals. His movement is superb and he attacks space in the way all the great goalscorers have done in the past. Most of his qualities are purely natural and instinctive, but he relies on quality service and in Rooney, he has an unselfish and creatively-driven partner which every goalscorer dreams to play alongside.

It remains to be seen if Fergie employs this tactic for the rest of the season and beyond, but it looks a natural fit. The fact Berbatov is the Premier League’s top goalscorer this season means there will always be raised eyebrows when it doesn’t work, as the question quickly arises of why the Bulgarian isn’t playing despite such a fantastic goal return this term. But Berbatov’s style has rarely suited Rooney and Ferguson never seems truly convinced with the former Tottenham striker. His poor display at Liverpool seems to have caught up with him for now and if Hernandez and Rooney continue the same way, it will only get harder for the Bulgarian to force his way back into the manager’s starting line-up.

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