Javier Hernandez has stolen the headlines from as flavour of the month. His goals against Chelsea, Valencia, Stoke and last night against Wolves have endeared him to all United fans and have the papers praising Sir Alex for what appears to have been a coup in getting the young Mexican so cheap before the World Cup rather than paying an inflated fee after.
Yet whilst Hernandez is stealing the headlines, and rightly so, another of Sir Alex’s signings is slowly building a reputation for himself waiting for his chance to burst into the limelight.
When we signed Chris Smalling last season, it raised more than a few eyebrows. The fact he had just broken into the team having been a non league player certainly surrounded the move in controversy and the fact his end of season performances weren’t the strongest either meant many believed we had over spent or even wasted money full stop on the young defender.
But since joining United, I have seen nothing from him to make me think that.
On the club’s US tour he showed glimpses of what he was about and although I won’t see he totally won over all his doubters, he did enough to make us optimistic about his future. From there he has gone from strength to strength building on each performance and slowly growing into his role as a United player.
When he was initally signed many touted him as Rio Ferdinand’s replacement but when the two turned out together against Scunthorpe in the Carling Cup I won’t be exaggerating when I say he outshone the England international and not just because he got onto the scoresheet.
Last night it was the same as he was our best defender ad arguably one of our best performers against a spirited Wolves side. I won’t lie and say he is totally ready right now, he occasionally shows a naivety with his positioning that will disappear the more he plays but in terms of reading the game, strength, pace, tackling etc I have been impressed and an added plus is that he seems to be attack minded, looking to help out with the offence as well as the defensive side of the game.
Earlier this month Smalling spoke of how working alongside Rio Ferdinand has helped his game and it is become visible and if he continues to develop the way he has, the £10m we paid for him may seem a bargain.