14. JAVIER HERNANDEZ
|Birthdate:||01 Jun 1988|
|Joined United:||01 Jul 2010|
|United Debut:||08 Aug 2010 v Chelsea (N)|
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez enjoyed a wonderful maiden season for United in 2010/11, scoring 20 goals in all competitions and terrorising defences with his pace and movement.
Adored in his native Mexico, it wasn’t long before he also became a fans’ favourite in the UK, thanks to his footballing ability, friendly demeanour and dedicated professionalism. Hernandez’s second season was less spectacular, thanks to a number of niggling injuries and the form of Danny Welbeck, although he still managed to bag 12 goals in 2011/12 – many of them important – at a rate of one every three appearances. Chicha completed his move to Old Trafford in July 2010, becoming United’s first Mexican player. He joined from hometown club Chivas de Guadalajara, for whom he had scored 29 goals in 79 games since making his debut as a teenager in 2006. Unusually for a club of United’s stature, the transfer was conducted completely under the radar: only the player and his father were aware of the deal and there was no prior speculation in the media, either in the UK or Mexico. ‘Chicharito’ means ‘little pea’ and Hernandez attracted the moniker because he’s the son of Javier Hernandez, himself a top Mexican striker who played in the 1986 World Cup and was nicknamed ‘Chicharo’ (‘pea’) because of his green eyes. An out-and-out striker, Chicharito is quick, two-footed and strong in the air, qualities that have seen him likened to Reds legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He made an early impact at international level, scoring twice for Mexico in the 2010 World Cup just days before completing his switch to United. Those goals introduced him to a wider global audience and would undoubtedly have led to a clamour for his signature – precisely the reason why United moved fast to complete the deal before the tournament began. It quickly became clear why Sir Alex was so keen to sign Hernandez. After an eye-catching, goalscoring debut in pre-season against an MLS All-Stars side, Paul Scholes predicted the Mexican would score 25 goals in his first campaign. And though Hernandez was expected to be eased into the first team gradually, Sir Alex could not ignore his ability in front of goal for long. Chicharito grabbed his chance with both hands. He’s a born finisher and scored all kinds of goals in 2010/11, among them numerous vital matchwinners. By the end of a season in which he picked up his first league winners’ medal, Sir Alex had enough faith in his new signing to start him in the Champions League final. It came as no surprise when he signed an improved five-year contract in October 2011. And despite a second season that perhaps didn’t always go to plan, there’s no doubt Chicharito has a bright future ahead of him at Old Trafford.