Through Gritted Teeth #23: Javier Hernandez

by Sam Drew

Down at the bottom of Old Trafford,
Among Nanis and Rooneys,
A little Mexican poacher,
They call the Little Pea! 

He’s quick and looks like he wears make-up,
Keep it a secret now please.
He’s scored 20 goals this season,
And that’s the Little Pea,
The Little Pea!

Ah, Javier Hernandez. “The Little Pea”. What a season he’s had.

It’s infuriating to an Arsenal fan, and indeed fans of many other clubs, to see an unknown quantity like Hernandez to take to the Premier League like a duck to water when the team he’s firing to glory is Manchester United. There’s something about him that you just find annoying when it’s not your team he’s playing for.

The undeniable fact that he looks like a lesbian with a buzzcut. That dive against Newcastle (come on, it was a dive, admit it). That knack he has of scoring goals, usually at just the right moment.

In the season just gone, whenever it seemed like United were struggling , whenever they looked a little lost, along came Hernandez with his cutesy little nickname on the back of his shirt, and he’s all like “Yeah, don’t worry, I’ll score”. And he did. The away match at Stoke, the home tie against Everton, and plenty of others.

Hernandez’s goal-scoring instinct is reminiscent of Gary Lineker, or perhaps the player he’s been most compared to, Michael Owen. He’s just always there. His enthusiasm for scoring goals is an absolute breath of fresh air; and the way he does it with such efficiency is unbelievable. At one point, everybody’s favourite statsman, OptaJoe, revealed that Hernandez had scored something like 10 goals from 14 shots on target. A stunning statistic that highlights just how natural a finisher he is.

(As an aside, there is one former United striker who I refuse to admit even the most begrudging respect for. Ruud van Nistelrooy was often the scourge of Arsenal, and when he wasn’t scoring against us, he was netting for United against other teams to damage our chances of glory – a little like Hernandez. But the difference was that while there’s something inherently likeable about the Mexican, it’s just so easy to hate Van Nistelrooy: he looks like a horse. Horse, bad; lesbian good. That’s just the way it is.)

During the first few months of the season, Hernandez was used sparingly, although he still managed to net important goals against Chelsea in the Community Shield, Valencia in the Champions League and Wolves in the Carling Cup. Substitute appearances for Hernandez in the Premier League were common, with Ferguson seemingly unwilling to drop in-form Dimitar Berbatov and star striker Wayne Rooney.

However, as Berbatov’s form began to fade away, Hernandez grabbed his chance. The substitute appearances were often accompanied with goals; now Alex Ferguson decided to start his young prodigy. His match-winning double against Stoke helped stake a major claim for a starting place, and he’s not looked back since. Crucial goals against Chelsea and Marseille drove United through the season and, despite Nani being named United’s player of the season, the fact that ‘Chicharito’ scooped the fans’ player of the year award says it all about how quickly the fans at Old Trafford have taken to him.

And as much as I hate to admit it, he’s been an absolute masterstroke from Ferguson. Plucked from Mexico to a chorus of “Who?”s, Hernandez has surely proven many people wrong this season. The amount of smug United fans after his terrific World Cup was almost unbearable. “Told you he was good,” smirked one. What, when you asked me “who that Chickyrito bloke” was? Pipe down.

So, while it will infuriate me when Hernandez pops up with another late winner — and believe me, he will, again and again — there will always be a part of me that thinks “What a player”.

Sam, an Arsenal fan of quite sickening youth, is the eponymous proprietor ofFifteen Year Old Gooner, which does exactly what it says on the tin. Make yourself feel old on Twitter: @15yearoldgooner.

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