When Manchester United signed Javier Hernandez in April of 2010, scores of doubters came to the fore. Many believed United were just trying to deflect attention from their disappointing Champions League exit, at the hands of the old foe Bayern Munich, the previous evening.
Most saw it as Sir Alex Ferguson paying over the odds for an unknown diminutive striker from Mexico. And then of course there was some who saw this as United trying to tap into a previously untested and potentially lucrative market.
This speculation disappeared in the same record time that it materialised. Then the World Cup commenced and the one they call Chicharito (‘Little Pea’) popped up yet again. First there was the well-taken goal against the fallen giants of France.
Then there was the superbly-executed bullet goal against Argentina (although it proved to be a mere consolation). And then the people in studios, on sofas, started to talk about the lad from Guadalajara, but this time in a positive way. Could it be United have bagged themselves a bargain...? It was looking promising.
Indeed it was. Fast-forward to August and the Community Shield and another well-executed goal. Despite being limited to a second half cameo appearance, Hernandez showed us what he’s got. And what he’s got looks decent. Even the purists who cry out for English lads to be given a shot (myself included in that number) were starting to believe Ferguson may well have got this one right.
Criticised in the past for lavish signings that didn’t come off, Fergie is now being knocked for spending enough. Figure that one out.
With money-machine neighbours Manchester City waving carte blanche in front of many a player, the market has inflated at a speed nobody predicted. And so Ferguson, being the old-school pragmatist that he is, has taken a step back to conversely bleed the youth system. To what success remains to be seen.
What is becoming evident very quickly is that Hernandez is looking a shrewd buy. Five (blush-sparing, crucial) league goals in three games is not a bad return for £7 million. Rooney’s currently injured but in this form, no matter your pay-packet, it could be said Chicharito’s got a feeling for more goals.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.