Making a case for Javier Hernandez to stay at Manchester United 0

Louis Van Gaal has indicated that he will shortly be deciding upon the futures of several Manchester United players and he is expected to sanction a couple of sales once the pre-season tour of the USA is over.

One of the names on that shortlist will be that of Javier Hernandez, as the Mexican now seems to exist on the periphery at Old Trafford and doesn’t obviously fit the attacking dynamic which is being installed at the club.

Hernandez has started just fifteen Premier League games in two years and, having just turned twenty-six, will understandably be looking for more regular involvement.  He is a very capable forward and, as he’s shown in the past, he can be a valuable source of goals at this level of the game.

If Hernandez was made available for transfer tomorrow, he would be at another elite club before the week was over.  So yes, you can understand why the player might want to leave, but from the club’s perspective he still has a use.

Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are stylistically quite similar.  Both can play at the tip of a formation, but both are probably more comfortable in a slightly more withdrawn role.  Generally that doesn’t matter, because despite that overlap they have performed very well in combination and they are unquestionably the first-choice forwards at the club.

Hernandez offers a variation though.  He’s a throw-back of a forward and he does very little outside the penalty-box, but what he does do is fairly unique at United.  They don’t have another player who exists purely on the back-shoulder of a defence and neither Rooney, van Persie, nor Danny Welbeck possesses the same undiluted goal-scoring instinct.

Saturday night’s friendly against Real Madrid provided a really good example of what Hernandez does well and why he is potentially of value to Louis Van Gaal:

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Above is the beginning of the sequence which led to United’s third goal.

Shinji Kagawa is shown on the ball, and Hernandez is sitting in-between two covering defenders.  The first point to note is that the vision and execution from Kagawa is phenomenal and he should take the bulk of the credit for this goal.  What gives him the opportunity to create it, however, is Hernandez’s pace.  The Mexican has a habit of not only knowing where to be and when, but of eluding man-markers and out-pacing attending defenders - and that’s really what happens here: it’s his acceleration which takes him beyond the line and it’s what allows quite a low-percentage move to result in a goal.

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If any other United forward is in this position, the score probably remains 2-1.  Neither Rooney nor van Persie has the pace to evade the Madrid defenders, and Danny Welbeck lacks the composure to regularly finish this kind of chance.

Does his value in this kind of situation make him un-sellable?  No, of course not, but there is a logic to keeping him around and, unlikely though he is to accept such a restricted role, United would be well-served by trying to convince him to be a part of this new era.  Players who diversify the creative options and who provide opposing defenders with a different challenge will always be of use.

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