11th Septemer 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
At 29, and still at the peak of his powers, Javier Hernandez felt the time was right to return to the Premier League. After a five year stint at Manchester United which yielded 59 goals in 157 matches, and subsequent successful spells at Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen, Chicharito jumped at the chance to join West Ham United.
“I am very happy to join West Ham United,” he explained to the club’s website. “For me, the Premier League is the best league in the world and when the opportunity came, I was desperate to sign for this club.
“It was not a difficult decision. West Ham is an historic club, and very ambitious — this summer you can see with the players signed that they are looking to have a very good season. I’ve had three fantastic years playing in Spain and Germany, but England was really the first big chapter in my career and I am so happy to be back. I am desperate for the season to start and to help the team achieve all their objectives.”
Although he was starved of service in his Premier League debut vs. former club Manchester United, he showed his class emphatically in the following fixture by bagging a brace in the Hammers’ disappointing 3-2 defeat to Southampton. A frustrating match in another loss, this time against Newcastle United, saw him cut a frustrated figure, but this had a lot to do with the team’s overall poor performance, though.
With a period adjusting to playing with his new teammates expected, once he’s fully integrated, there’s every reason to suggest he’ll become a customarily consistent goalscorer. Operating alongside the creativity and ingenuity of Manuel Lanzini, plus the pace and power of Marko Arnautovic and Michail Antonio, should lead to him finding plentiful openings to utilise his lethal finishing capabilities in future.
Instinctive and a fantastic timer of his runs in behind the defence, the Mexican’s movement into the box is first class and sees him pose a constant threat to any backline. Gaining vital separation prior to beginning his runs, in combination with starting his runs on the blindside of his opponents, further increases what a menace he is for his adversaries to deal with.
Slaven Bilic’s men will be desperately hoping their Mexican hitman can get them out of their current downturn in form, which sees the club winless from their opening three fixtures, in a stretch that’s seen them concede a staggering 10 goals and unsurprisingly left them rooted to the bottom of the table. As a player who’s scored goals wherever he’s plied his trade, expectations among the fans will be high that he can replicate his goalscoring exploits for the Irons. Much will depend upon the service he receives, though, but Hernandez’s resourcefulness from not just open play but also from set pieces only adds to what a weapon he is in and around goal.
Being such an aggressive, intense presser on the defensive end, a trait that was expertly honed under the tutelage of Roger Schmidt at Leverkusen, was another key reason why Bilic was so eager to bring Hernandez in. When speaking on his arrival, the Croatian manager was over the moon he got his man, especially considering he failed to sign him prior to him joining Die Werkself. “After two years, we found out he might leave Leverkusen, so I contacted him and we didn’t have to start from zero,” Bilic said.
“He is a fantastic player, very experienced. He has been everywhere, he has scored goals for Manchester United, then he scored goals for Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen. He has scored goals for Mexico. And he is still a boy, he is still young. You can see it in his every game, he is happy to play football.
“His game is not only about goals, he runs he presses, he is the player we wanted. He was our No. 1 target on the list of center forwards. We are extremely happy that he opted for us and we are sure it is going to be a really good move for him as well.”
Acquiring such a well proven and experienced talisman for just £16 million further served to make the deal a truly fine piece of business.
Now, his challenge will be helping steer his new side out of their current predicament. If his prolific past is anything to go by, though, it would take a brave man to bet against him being an undoubted success in London too.
More by Edward at Licence to Roam