Jim Lawlor must be a very happy man.
Report by Stewart Gardner
31/01/2011.-Not heard of him? Well, he’s somebody all United fans should be thanking at the moment. It’s Jim, you see, who’s responsible for luring Javier Hernandez to Old Trafford.
Lawlor is United’s chief scout and he spent several weeks in Mexico this time last year watching Chicharito play for Chivas. Jim recommended the Reds sign the young striker and the deal was done in April.
At the time, the transfer was met by a shrug of the shoulders from many United fans who’d never heard of the player. But the World Cup changed all that. His strikes against France and Argentina suggested United had unearthed a diamond. The big question was, could he adapt to the physical demands and the helter skelter of English football?
After 11 goals in 26 appearances, the answer is a definite yes. He had one chance at Southampton on Saturday and he took it. It was the finish of a natural born goalscorer. And his arrival as a substitute at Blackpool last week had a huge impact on the game. His equalising goal was magnificent – a triumph of technique and nerve.
Hernandez has now scored in all competitions: Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, Carling Cup and Community Shield. Not bad for a first season at OT. It was reported United signed him for somewhere in the region of £7million. What would he be worth now?
Chicharito has given Sir Alex a major selection problem. Will he start against Aston Villa on Tuesday? It’s another big game for the Reds. Villa have improved after flirting with the bottom three. And they absolutely destroyed United for about 80 minutes at Villa Park in November before United produced what has become a trademark comeback.
If United do end up winning the title I think that dramatic afternoon in the Midlands could be one of the turning points of the season. That was the weekend Chelsea were playing Sunderland, so if United had lost at Villa and Chelsea had beaten Sunderland, the Londoners would have gone seven points clear. As it turned out, United salvaged a 2-2 draw and never looked back. Chelsea, meanwhile, embarked on a run of awful results.
Let’s hope for another win on Tuesday, a result that would make it a club record-equalling 29 league games without defeat. It’s been 10 months since United last lost a Premier League game. Long may that continue.