Posts Tagged ‘Chicharito’
We were all a little surprised at the start of the summer when Sir Alex offered Michael Owen a new deal. It was generally assumed that he would be on his way, and a number of clubs make their interest known. However, he signed on for another year and, given his promising form this pre-season, could make a telling contribution to the team.
Javier Hernandez has picked up a knock in training and looks to be out for three to four weeks whilst he recovers. This would probably have been the case anyway given his exploits at the Gold Cup and Copa America this summer. That gives Michael Owen a golden opportunity, a golden month, to prove his worth to United.
The news has emerged today that Michael Owen has been offered a new one year deal at the club and, as one would expect, has bitten Sir Alex’s hand off. Of course, one would assume that if he’s a success next season, his contract would again be extended.
Whilst it’s always good to have natural goalscorers on the clubs books, Michael Owen divides opinion amongst United fans. Whilst none are foolish enough to doubt his pedigree or ability when fit, there are question marks that surround both his ability to stay fit for extended periods and what this means for the young players at the club.
If we have learned just two things about football in the past 24 hours, they are that Javier Hernandez is human, and Manuel Neuer is not.
I have waxed lyrical on this blog about the ability of the Schalke number 1 beforeand, although I was becoming resigned to the fact that David De Gea was looking more and more like our number one target given Neuer’s apparent preference for a move to Bayern Munich, I hope that plenty more people will now see things my way.
I still hang on to a distant hope that, after he plays at Old Trafford, he will decide that he’d quite like to play there every week, especially given the Schalke fans protests at his desire to join Bayern.
Quite apart from the saves that Neuer made to keep Schalke from being utterly blown away in the first half, he has this massive presence in goal that I haven’t seen since Oliver Khan, and Schmeichel before him. You almost felt that Hernandez and friends were afraid to shoot in the first half, deeming it pointless.
It took us the best part of 70 minutes pure domination to finally get the ball past him, and even then it was down to the capitulation of a Schalke defence that was given an utterly torrid time by Wayne Rooney and, most criminally, Antonio Valencia, who was given so much space and time on the right wing he could have grown vegetables.
I’m almost more encouraged by Hernandez’s contribution overall, even though he didn’t manage to hit the back of the net. We now know how he reacts to missing a few chances; he goes out looking for more. He works his socks off, hangs off the last man, and looks a constant menace with his pace and sharpness. His finish for his disallowed goal, too, was utterly brutal.
Throw in an assist for Rooney on top, and you have a good night for the Little Pea, even if it wasn’t truly great.
Key to our ability to absolutely overrun a Schalke midfield was Michael Carrick, who shielded the back four brilliantlyand shifted the ball all over the pitch with the minimum of fuss. Where are the Carrick bashers now? Tweeting Gibson? If anyone wants to know why he’s been handed a contract extension, then they need to watch the DVDs of the Chelsea second leg and last night’s game, and then STFU.
Ryan Giggs has never won a game of football at Molineux. He’s now done everything else. Oldest Champions League goalscorer, United appearance record holder, most medals ever awarded to a British footballer… if you asked someone which player was 33 and which 37, and showed them Giggs and Raul last night, they’d wonder if you had made a mistake and meant 27 years instead.
It’s not difficult to see how Schalke beat Inter if you know your football. They come forward quickly, have a keeper that inspires confidence and seem to ride their luck. Italian clubs can, periodically, struggle with teams that play a fast pace and, alongside England and France, German football is the quickest there is. However, to Manchester United they’re just another team.
The second leg SHOULD be a formality, but of course there are no certainties in Champions League semi-finals. Ask Claudio Ranieri. Even so, I’m confident that we’ll be visiting Wembley at the end of May, for a crack at our 4th European title.
With every passing week, Javier Hernandez’s debut season in English football gets better and better and better. For his latest trick, Chicharito popped up with just over five minutes to go, with United struggling to get the better of Everton, and sniffed out a deflected cross for his 19th goal of the season.
Like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he has built himself quite a reputation for coming off the bench and grabbing goals, and well over half of his goals for Manchester United have come in the 75th minute or later. This ability to change the course of a game in a few short minutes has been absolutely key to our ability to pose such a serious challenge on three fronts despite not fielding a truly vintage side this year.
So, with Michael Owen out for the majority of the season and assuming that nobody else could have stepped in to the same shoes, where exactly would we be in the league without Javier Hernandez’s goals from the bench?
Still top, in answer, although in far more precarious a position. Although his five league goals from the bench have only been worth an extra 4 points to us, those four points could easily prove to be the difference between claiming our 19th title in May and being disappointed.
Our current goal difference advantage over Chelsea would be turned on it’s head, and with that lot still due to visit us a week after we visit Arsenal, a neutral probably wouldn’t even have us as favourites. The value of the cushion Hernandez’s late goals have given us cannot be underestimated. We can afford to lose one of those two games with no tangible penalty.
His goals as sub come once every 56 minutes, which is considerably better than a goal a game.
Also noteworthy is the fact that, in the league, Manchester United have not once been in a worse position at the final whistle than they were when Javier Hernandez was brought off the bench, a record he single-handedly preserved with his late, late goal at Anfield.
It’s also worth noting the value of his late goal from the bench in Valencia to our Champions League group stage campaign. His late goal put us in control of Group C after we had stumbled at the first hurdle against Rangers, and when Valencia dropped points at Rangers in the next round, we had a three-point lead which we never gave up.
Had we only got a draw in Valencia, we would have finished second in our group. This could easily have proved a mortal blow, as this season only Inter Milan came second in their group yet survived the round of 16. Our choice of opponents would have been Schalke, Barca, Bayern, Real and Shakhtar, as opposed to the much more bearbale Inter, Lyon, Copenhagen, Roma, Marseille and Milan, from which we drew and overcame Marseille.
We only need to witness Arsenal’s fate at the hands of Barcelona to see the perils of coming second in your group.
For completions sake, we must note that a Hernandez goal as sub saw us past Wolves in the League Cup, advancing us an extra round.
Without Hernandez’s contribution fromm the bench, it’s fair to say that we would be in a far, far weaker position than we are now. It’s possible that the T-word may never have been whispered by anyone, and the probability of us winning any silverware at all this year would be greatly diminished.
Well played, son.