Javier Hernandez finds himself in a rather strange position. Having angled for an exit from West Ham in the January transfer window, he remains at the London Stadium, playing under a manager who has frozen him out in the past.
Many fans and observers noted the history between Hernandez and David Moyes when the Scot replaced Slaven Bilic in east London. At Manchester United, Hernandez accused Moyes of “not taking me into account”, while he snubbed both him and Louis van Gaal in his parting letter at the club when he joined Bayer Leverkusen.
While he played just six times in the Premier League under Moyes at Old Trafford, Hernandez has pledged to give his all to West Ham’s fight to stay in the division in 2017-18, after seeing his wish to leave go unfulfilled.
“I always try to be a professional and now my head is here 100 per cent,” Hernandez told the club’s website.
“I will dedicate myself 100% to this team as I had done in all the clubs I have been in, to save us from relegation, which is the goal that we all have, from the coach, the players, all the staff who work at the club, and then also the fans – we will do everything possible to do it.”
Hernandez scored against Brighton at the weekend, in a 3-1 defeat, and it was a goal that many fans would consider to be his bread and butter. Indeed, if one asked a fan to conjure an image of a Chicharito goal, it would look a lot like the one he scored at the Amex Stadium; after hassling and harrying the Brighton defence, he won back possession, played a one-two, jinked past a defender and slammed the ball into the roof of the net.
It was his second goal in three games, as he also earned the Hammers a point with an instinctive finish against Bournemouth at the end of January. Moyes made a fuss of Hernandez after the game, insisting that he and the Irons “need” him.
“There’s speculation about ‘Chicharito’,” said Moyes. “But there’s been speculation about Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho… about every man and their dog here, really.
“We need him. The sort of goal he got today might be typical. So, we need to try to get a lot more balls in the box.”
It cannot be forgotten that there are deep-rooted problems at West Ham right now. Results have been sliding, and the club sit just three points above the relegation zone. Fans are planning a march against the board, and those inside the club have faced difficult questions from the media after the sacking of Tony Henry for alleged racist comments about African players.
And it is at exactly times like these that heroes can appear from whence you least expect – in every cloud, there is a silver lining – and Hernandez appears ready to play that role.
The Mexico international will have one eye on the World Cup in Russia this summer, but Moyes would be remiss not to continually include him in his starting XI.
While he may not quite work as a lone striker – that was tried against the Seagulls, to disastrous effect – he can be remarkably effective when surrounded with willing runners.
Even taking into account the loan signing of Joao Mario, Hernandez remains the best player on the books at West Ham and he is in a rich vein of form, also racking up an assist against Crystal Palace in a 1-1 draw two games ago.
Thus, if West Ham are to stop themselves from falling into the relegation mire, Moyes needs to place his faith in Hernandez.
We have seen from these last three games that the diminutive forward has much still to give, and he could be the man to transport the Hammers from a relegation dog-fight to the relative comfort of mid-table anonymity.