Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Is Chicharito the new Solskjaer?

November 11, 2012

Former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said recently it was his dream to take over as manager at Old Trafford one day and if he fulfills it in the foreseeable future, the 39-year old Norwegian could coach a lethal finisher that is almost a carbon copy of himself from his playing days.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez made an immediate impact after joining United in the summer of 2010, helping the club to their 19th league title with more than just a few vital goals.

On Saturday he produced a devastating performance which inspired yet another impressive United comeback this season, scoring a brace and engineering a third after coming off the bench at halftime in their 3-2 win at Aston Villa.

The 24-year old Mexican still has some way to go before he can stand shoulder to shoulder with United’s ultimate super-substitute Solskjaer, who bagged 126 goals in 366 appearances for the club from 1996—2007, none more important than the stoppage time winner in a memorable 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final.

Solskjaer also achieved one of the most remarkable tallies in a single game three months earlier, scoring the last four goals in just 18 minutes on the pitch in United’s 8-1 away rout of Nottingham Forest.

Hernandez has shown all the traits which had made Solskjaer one of United’s fan favourites down the years, his swift and unpredictable runs into the penalty area going hand in hand with the killer instinct akin only to finishers of the highest quality.

Likewise, he has gracefully accepted playing second fiddle.

Despite his scoring prowess, Chicharito might keep struggling to establish himself as a regular starter in United 4-2-3-1 formation, with Robin Van Persie the first choice up front and Wayne Rooney playing in a deeper role between the wingers.

But like Solskjaer, who had to compete with the likes of Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and in the latter stages of his United career Ruud van Nistelrooy, Hernandez will continue to strike primal fear in the hearts of his rivals whenever he comes into the frame.

With United’s injury-hit defence still leaking goals – a feature which has forced Alex Ferguson’s men to come from behind in eight of their 14 wins in all competitions this season – the 70 year-old coach will hope that “Little Pea” maintains his form throughout what has so far been a rip-roaring season.

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