His rise has been quite amazing and personally I didn’t really understand it in its infancy. For me he was a new player but another player and I wasn’t going to jump on the bandwagon straight away. Well I wore out the sole of my shoes catching up with the bandwagon and now I’m firmly on.
There have been tons of reasons cited as to why ‘Chicharito Mania’ has gripped Old Trafford. Everyone loves a striker that scores goals, he has scored some important goals, the fact he appears “cute”(their words not mine) doesn’t hurt, he plays with a smile, appears to have a genuine love for the club (initially I was sceptical about the badge kissing) all rank extremely high on the list but I think there are some deeper reasons.
When Hernandez first signed for United it was in the midst of the green and gold campaign, our financial situation was under heavy scrutiny and the fact we weren’t spending money meant his signing was was looked at with some apprehension, he wasn’t exactly a big name in world football. But there were many who thought outside of the box and thought what was so special about this guy that made us snap him up so quickly and at the World Cup we got a brief glimpse. His goals were a pre cursor to what we could expect in our own colours but expectation and actual delivery are completely different.
So when he hit the ground running, banging in goals on the US tour (even the one against us) I think there was a sense of relief.
That summer we expected a name or two to be brought in, big names. David Gill had made a point of reminding everyone that the Ronaldo money was still there to be spent but to the dismay of some this big name didn’t appear. Bebe was brought in and whilst not everyone was excited, those that were, were because of what he could offer in the future rather than the here and now.
So here we were, the start of a new season with 3 rookies added to the ranks whilst the likes of Giggs, Scholes and Neville were a year older. Rooney was still misfiring and Berbatov hadn’t begun to shine so who would be the hero? Enter Chicharito.
He became the big signing we didn’t get and the fact that his arrival caused quite a wave not only here but in the footballing world in general was brilliant as he drew praise from journos, pundits and managers all over the place. It was a slap in the face of those that were quick to point out we hadn’t signed anyone of note.
His goals were refreshing and whilst Berbatov was getting on the goal trail himself, the manner of Hernandez’s goals were what set him apart. Can you find me a person who didn’t go mad when he kicked the ball into his own face? Or a person who didn’t go mental when he scored the backwards header? Things like this endeared him to us as much as the timing of his goals. His goal against Valencia, his late winner against Wolves in the Carling Cup, the brace against Stoke all made fans like him even more.
Beyond this, his performances made us forget.
Wayne Rooney hadn’t been playing well and Hernandez was almost filling the void. When Rooney turned around and said he wanted to leave whilst everyone was angry and said what they said I remember noting another response from our fans, they simply clung to Hernandez.
I remember seeing people passing around a song:
Viva Hernandez, Viva Hernandez
Call him Little Pea
Sh*ts on Wayne Rooney
It was remarkable in that our fans had accepted that we were going to lose Wayne Rooney and were defiant in the face of it as we had Hernandez. Losing a player like Rooney is no small matter and whilst there were many that were worried by the prospect, the fact that some, no matter how small the number was, had faith in Hernandez and his ability to replace Rooney shows how highly he was already held by our fans.
Of course Rooney performed a u turn and the song will probably be forgotten but I think it was a good example of how highly he is regarded.
Hernandez has shown he can play football and the fact he has found his feet straight away scoring goals has been important. He isn’t happy to be labelled a super sub and to be honest that isn’t a fair assessment of him, the same way it was for the legend he is being compared with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The comparison is a huge one especially after just a couple of months and even if he isn’t to keen on it it again shows how highly he is regarded by fans as well as people in the know.
At 22, Hernandez is already a hero at United and has years ahead of him so who is to say how big he can become? The fans love him and his performances and goals will continue to propel him forward so there really is no limit on this.