With the 'beautiful game’ evolving, so has the role of each player on the field. A full-back in the modern era does not have the same role that a full-back had in the past. Even the role of a goalkeeper is changing, thanks to a certain Manuel Neuer.
One of the most evolved roles has been that of a forward/striker. Most teams play a 'False 9’ – a forward dropping back – thus allowing the wider players to move inside the box and cause havoc in the opposition defence. Following the advent of this new role/position, the classic ‘fox in the box’ has all but disappeared.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is one of the few classic strikers left in modern football. Since his time in Club Deportivo Guadalajara, he has been a constant threat in the 18-yard box, scoring goals by outfoxing the defenders.
What Went Wrong at Manchester United?
When the 27-year-old signed for Manchester United before the 2010/11 season, all the Red Devils fans were thrilled with the possibility of finally having a striker who was regularly troubling defenders in the box, some even thought of him as a modern version of the menacing Ruud van Nistelrooy.
The way Chicharito started his career at Man United certainly did create hope for every fan of the start of another era of relentless goalscoring, this time from their newly-revealed striker. In his first three seasons at Old Trafford, Chicharito scored 33 goals in 77 English Premier League appearances. 35 of the 77 appearances that Chicharito made were off the bench.
So, nearly half of the times that Chicharito played for United, he came off the bench. Why would a talented player like Chicharito be continuously benched despite showing great promise and skill each time he steps onto the field?
One of the main reasons that Chicharito never got to feature much in the first team was due to a lot of competition for the strikers’ spot in his time at United.
In his first season in 2010/11, Chicharito had to fight the likes of Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen. Rooney and Berbatov were the regular starters up front, however, the young Mexican striker gave glimpses of what he was capable of by netting in 13 times in the league.
The following season Berbatov did not feature as much as he did the previous season. This might have seemed like a golden opportunity for the Mexican striker to feature more for the Red Devils. However, it was Danny Welbeck who partnered Rooney up front during the 2011/12. Despite featuring in fewer matches than Welbeck, Chicharito scored a goal more than the English striker.
In the following two seasons – Chicharito's last two full seasons at United – Robin van Persie, Rooney and Welbeck kept the Mexican out of action. In the three seasons that Hernandez played under Sir Alex Ferguson, he returned with at least 10 goals each season.
Another reason for Chicharito not being able to flourish as much could be the different systems he played in under different managers – at Man United, Real Madrid and now at Bayer Leverkusen.