Opinion: Chicharito was the star for Real Madrid on Wednesday, but that doesn’t make him a star
Real Madrid advanced to the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League Wednesday thanks to Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez’s 87th minute goal to give Real Madrid a 1-0 win on aggregate and their first win over Atletico Madrid in eight tries this season. Following the goal, it seemed every announcer and pundit was coming out singing Hernandez’s praises and talking about how he’s a star who’s scoring goals now that he’s finally given a chance.
Uh, hello? Are we being serious here? To anyone who refers to Chicharito as a star, I have a question for you. Have you ever actually watched the guy play?
I haven’t missed a Manchester United match since the beginning of the 2007-08 season, so I have seen every single appearance Chicharito made with the Red Devils. I’ve also seen countless youngsters come up in the League Cup or make a few substitute appearances late in various other matches. Without using any hyperbole here Javier Hernandez is one of the worst soccer players I have ever seen.
Now before you get up in arms, I said soccer players. As in actually playing the entire game. I’ll be the first to admit Hernandez has an uncanny ability to somehow get the ball into the net in ways you didn’t think were possible. I’ll always appreciate all the late goals he scored to keep United afloat in the first half of the 2010-11 season until Wayne Rooney got his act together in the second half of the season. Add in the goal he scored against Chelsea at Old Trafford and the ridiculous penalty he won at Blackburn the day United clinched the title and it’s safe to say Chicharito was a major reason why United won the title that season.
But let’s get back on the field. When you take Javier Hernandez out of the opponents box he becomes one of the worst players to ever get a contract to play football in Europe. He can’t shoot from outside the box, his touch is poor, he can’t pass and he can’t hold up play. There’s really nothing he CAN do outside of the opponents box. When you combine all those attributes together it’s not a surprise that Hernandez has spent most of his career as a player who comes off the bench. When his team needs a late goal and the manager has to do whatever it takes–which includes throwing things like hold up play and quick passing out the window–they call on Hernandez and he has come through pretty often.
For all the late goals that Hernandez has scored over his career he’s been unable to find the same success as a starter. This is often because he doesn’t seem to score as much when he starts the game and his poor hold up play and passing disrupts his team’s rhythm.
After two seasons at United, Sir Alex Ferguson brought in Robin van Persie, essentially shunning Hernandez to the bench. In late 2013 when Mexico appointed Miguel Herrera as their new manager, Herrera dropped Hernandez from the staring XI. When Herrera was appointed manager, Mexico was coming off one of its worst years in its history.
After dropping Hernandez, the team improved tremendously. This led to Hernandez saying before the World Cup that he was tired of being called a “Super Sub.”
Well, Javier, the problem is when you don’t score as a starter but keep scoring as a sub, you’re not exactly helping your own cause there. Javier, the problem isn’t lack of chances, the problem is you.
After he scored against Atletico, match announcer Martin Tyler commented on how Chicharito is unhappy being a ‘bit-part’ player at Real Madrid. I kid you not this nearly caused my head to explode. Javier, you weren’t good enough to play at Manchester United who at the time had Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck and James Wilson ahead of you. What in the world made you think that going to Real Madrid, who have Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos was a smart career move for you?
After the game I was again forced to listen to the Fox Soccer studio crew talking about how much of a star Hernandez is. Calling Chicharito a star is a joke, and it needs to stop. Hernandez’s innate ability to somehow keep putting the ball into the net will ensure that some team will always want him, but it doesn’t make him a star. It makes him a good scorer. A star is someone you would build your team around. Show me someone who would build a team around Chicharito, and I’ll show you a team that won’t be winning any trophies. Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Segio Aguero, Wayne Rooney, Bastien Schweinsteiger, Iniesta, Eden Hazaard. Those players are stars; Hernandez doesn’t come close to that list.
At the end of the season, Javier Hernandez is going to return to Manchester United where he will either leave the club or spend the season riding the bench. Going to a big club, like he did with Real Madrid this year, won’t do him any good as he’ll be no better then a “bit-part” player at any big club in Europe. What’s best for Hernandez now is to accept the fact that he’s a super-sub for second-tier club, or a starter for a mid-table club at best and hope a team like Tottenham or Stoke City are willing to come along and pay him to fill that role.