It has been a long time since a strike partnership has excited me as much as the Hernandez-Rooney axis. United has had its fair share of excellent striker combinations down through the years too. When you consider the damage duos like Yorke and Cole caused together, it seems a little premature to be waxing lyrical about Rooney and Hernandez just yet. Or is it?
To my mind, Rooney’s return to form has been largely due to his re-positioning on the pitch and his partnership with Hernandez. The little Mexican plays on the last shoulder of defenders and constantly looks to get in behind defences. Against Everton on Saturday, he was frequently attempting to get beyond the Jagielka and co, and with some degree of success. He is a true number nine, a true goal scorer and a perfect fit for Rooney.
Although he has started games sporadically over the course of the season (particularly the first half), Chicharito has amerced 19 goals thus far this season. 12 of them have come in the Premier League, with only seven players having bagged more times than the Mexican. This is a phenomenal rate for a 22 year old who was coming from the Mexican League. His goal against Everton on Saturday once again displayed his importance to the team and how far he has come in such a short space of time.
With Hernandez starting more and more frequently, Rooney has been deployed in a deeper role, more in the mold of a classic number ten. It is a position which suits him perfectly. Yes, he is capable of running the channels and getting in behind defences but this is not where is most effective. He is too good for this. Rooney’s vision and ability to pick out players is second to none. Think back to the first goal against Marseille in Old Trafford; Rooney played a stunning outside of the boot half volley to Ryan Giggs on the left, continued his run and ultimately fed Hernandez to provide the finish. Perfect.
Playing from deep, Rooney is capable of pulling the strings and producing that special ball. I would expect Rooney’s goal tally to increase also in this role, as it is harder to pick up a player of his calibre when he arrives in the box late or comes from deep.
Then begs the question – what about Dimitar Berbatov? The Bulgarian is the current top goalscoreer in the league and was recently named in the PFA team of the season. On the face of it, he should be the main man. Why aren’t we getting as excited about his partnership with Rooney or Hernandez? Because, to me, it is not as exciting. I like Berbatov and there is no question that he has come on this season. However, for me, the Hernandez/Rooney pairing is something that can be very special – right up there with the great stike partnerships. I wouldn’t say that about Berba at the moment. Would I want to lose him though? No, of course not..
There also seems to be a bit of love between Wazza and Chicharito, which always helps. Rooney had this to say about Hernandez on his newly introduced Twitter account:
It may be I am getting a little carried away but the evidence is there to see. These two look a match made in striker heaven and it is a partnership that looks set to grow and grow. This is Hernandez’s first season in the top flight. There is no limit to what he can achieve in this side and with Rooney. Other strikers are important too. It is a squad game. Look at ’99, when we had four top class forwards. All I’m saying is I’m excited, very excited..
Where do you rank the Hernandez/Rooney partnership?