Thursday 14 December 2017

Hernandez shaking off the curse of second season

Robin Scott-Elliot

Second-season syndrome is a common affliction and one, it was feared around Old Trafford, Javier Hernandez might have caught a nasty dose of.

In his debut campaign in the Premier League, the Mexican had made a major impression. This season began less impressively and by the turn of the year the 'Little Pea' was frequently consigned to his pod come match day. Hernandez did start against Blackburn on New Year's Eve, but United lost, he was taken off at half-time and began 2012 benched again.

There he remained, restricted to late cameos for the next five games before being recalled to start against Stoke. Four games later he has four more goals to his name.

"The goals motivate me and I am feeling good at the moment," said Hernandez in the wake of delivering the decisive strike of the Europa League tie against Ajax on Thursday.

Hernandez began his United career on the bench, but from the moment he was introduced in last season's Community Shield, coming on to score against Chelsea, he made a dramatic impression. It was Hernandez's pace and willingness to play on the shoulder of defenders that proved so telling, creating space for Wayne Rooney or Dimitar Berbatov. He also scored 20 goals.

His form this season may have fluctuated when he did appear but he's still managed to score key goals.

"Last season was very different to this," said Hernandez. "It was a great first season. It made me very happy and I am ready again."

His performance in partnership with Berbatov on Thursday was further evidence of that readiness.

Meanwhile, United midfielder Tom Cleverley is a doubt for Norwich tomorrow after picking up a knock against Ajax. He was sent for a scan yesterday. (© Independent News Service)

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