"In an age of egoistic footballers whose personal lives interfere with their on-field performances, Chicharito is every manager's dream."

There's one scene that has become familiar to Mexicans and Manchester United fans Worldwide. Moments before kick-off. Ball at the centre circle. Javier Hernandez kneels down, arms outstretched thanking God for helping him realise his dreams. A few years ago, that is all they were. Mere dreams...

Mexico won the Gold Cup a few days ago, in what was a stunning comeback after going 2 goals down in the first fifteen minutes against the United States. After the celebrations, came the presentation of individual honours. Mexico's Javier 'chicharito' Hernandez made a cleansweep of awards winning both the Player of the Tournament and the Top Goalscorer with 7 goals. This comes after a successful first season at Manchester United where he was instrumental in their run to securing their record 19th title.

Chicharito has been a revelation ever since he joined United and continues to find the net game after game. In an age of egoistic footballers whose personal lives interfere with their on-field performances, Chicharito is every manager's dream. A devout Christian who thanks God at every given opportunity for his career after almost quitting the game due to lack of first team opportunities at Chiva Guadalajara.

 

                                                                                      Chicharito performs his pre-match ritual

 

I'd be the first to admit, being a United fan, I wasn't the least bit pleased when Sir Alex Ferguson purchased the previously unknown Mexican for £6 million ( which has proved to be a bargain ) . After finishing the previous season with just a Carling Cup to show, most  United fans expected Fergie to break the bank and secure a proven striker capable of partnering Wayne Rooney, given Dimitar Berbatov's shortcomings. 

United fans spent their summer in the hope of waking up one morning to the news that their team had secured the services of a star striker in the breed of Karim Benzema or David Villa and were gobsmacked when news broke of the acquisition of the young Mexican. "Most players who play with their nicknames on their jerseys (Ronaldinho, Robinho, Kaka, Nani etc ) are usually class", I said to console myself. Then came the cries : " Fergie's lost it!", The Anti-Glazer campaign movements sharpened their knives; it appeared Fergie did not have enough funds to buy a proven goalscorer and as such settled for the 'cheap' Chicharito. Well what a difference a year makes.

An impressive world cup showing followed by a good pre-season provided glimpses of Chicharito's striking prowess, but the question remained of how he would perform in England. His goal in the Community Shield against Chelsea did not quell all doubts about his quality, which is quite understandable since it was still early days in his United career. 

Then came the start of the season. Chicharito has himself confessed he expected to be a bit-part player in his first season with limited chances. It  didn't take long for him to warm himself to the Old Trafford faithful though as he found the net on a regular basis. What set him apart last season was the importance his goals. Chicharito rarely scored that 'less important 5th goal' in a 5 goal rout; his goals came at crucial times and in some crucial games:

 -Winner against Valencia at the Mestalla

- Brace against Stoke at the Britannia

- Winner against West Brom at the Hawthorns

- Goal against Blackpool that helped secure a comeback

- Winner against Southampton in the FA Cup

- Brace against Marseille

- Goals against Chelsea in the Premier League and Champs League

- Late winner against Everton

 

                                                      Chicharito has a knack for scoring vital goals

 

It's difficult not to love Chicharito. Known for his intelligent movement and ruthless finishing, the baby-faced Mexican is a nightmare for defenders. He often plays off the shoulder of the last defender and looks to get in behind at every single oportunity. This ensured he brought out the best in Wayne Rooney who fluorished in his new 'number 10' role as they formed a lethal partnership.

The regular site of Premier League top scorer Dimitar Berbatov on the bench in the second half of the seaon is testament to Hernandez' impact. 20 goals in his first season in English football, a Premier League trophy, Man United Fans' Player of the Year, Gold Cup Trophy, Gold Cup Best Player and Top Scorer, not bad for his first season. 

 

                     Chicharito lifts the trophy he was awarded for being the tournament's Top Scorer

 

Expect a lot more from The Little Pea next season, and if you have any trouble spotting him, just look to the centre circle of Old Trafford as he thanks his God. Don't be fooled by his angelic looks. The boy is deadly.