Where Next For Little Pea As Madrid’s Buying Deadline Passes

Where next for Little Pea? (Image from PA)It was meant to be his dream move but has slowly turned into a nightmare. Despite a recent burst in form that has seen him net four times in the last six appearances, Real Madrid will not be taking out their option to buy Javier Hernandez outright from Manchester United. Deemed surplus to requirements by new United manager Louis Van Gaal, Hernandez was offered to several clubs before Real Madrid swooped in with a season long loan to buy deal. Joining the likes of Bale, Ronaldo and Rodriguez at the Bernabeu was too good an opportunity for the diminutive Mexican striker, known in his homeland simply as Little Pea. But Hernandez has struggled to force his way into Ancelotti’s starting eleven on a regular basis especially with French striker Karim Benzema in superb early season form. But a recent knee injury followed by a sprained ankle has kept Benzema out of action over the past month handing Hernandez his chance. Despite taking it well and scoring some vital goals as Real Madrid continue to chase trophies both at home and abroad, Madrid have decided at this stage not to make a bid for Hernandez letting Manchester United’s imposed Thursday deadline for their option to buy Hernandez pass without action.

Hernandez signed for Manchester United in 2010 after impressing their scouts who watched him star for Guadalajara in Liga MX. He arrived at Old Trafford for a fee of € 7.5M and almost immediately became a fan favourite with his energy and enthusiasm for the game and more importantly his goals. His style of play and the tendency by Sir Alex Ferguson to use Hernandez from the bench sparked obvious comparisons to former United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. But unlike the Norwegian, Hernandez did manage to force his way into the starting line up on a more regular basis as the goals flew in. But with the departure of his mentor Ferguson, Hernandez slipped down the pecking order and with the arrival of the likes of Robin Van Persie and this season Colombian hotshot Radamel Falcao, Hernandez knew his playing time would be limited at United. A loan move to Real was agreed with the belief that he could win a permanent move but that has not materialized as yet so Hernandez will likely have to reassess his career at the end of the season and decided where he wants to play next.

There won’t be a shortage of potential suitors with clubs in England, Italy, Spain and Germany expressing an interest in the Mexican international striker. He has already rejected a reported offer to move to MLS side Orlando City, preferring instead to stay in Europe. If he decides to return to England, several clubs like Newcastle, Southampton and West Ham are options with the trio heavily linked to the player. Serie A sides Lazio and AC Milan have also expressed an interest, whilst German side Wolfsburg are also rumoured to be monitoring the situation closely as they look to strengthen their squad after an impressive Bundesliga title push this year. His recent form in Spain has sparked interest from other sides in the Primera Division such as Seville and Atletico Madrid. He may end up remaining in Spain with his current suitors, Real Madrid who still have not formally closed the door on a full time move, despite not activating their first option as part of the loan agreement. They may however move for Colombian striker Radamel Falcao, currently on loan at Manchester United who like Hernandez has been unable to hold down a first team place.  If former Atletico Madrid striker Falcao is to move back to the Spanish capital with Real, the door could be reopened for Hernandez to have another chance at United however it looks like a slim chance given that Van Gaal is reportedly chasing PSV’s Memphis Depay and is considering transforming winger Adnan Januzaj into a striker.

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Moyes Desperate To Have The Last Laugh As United Slump Continues

Lots to think about for Moyes (Image from PA)The Theatre of Dreams has turned into the comedy club with teams lining up outside the turnstiles waiting to have their kicks and some points of the current Champions of England. Manchester United now find themselves in the middle of the league, 15 points off the top and 18 off the relegation zone after their 2-2 draw with Fulham. Although Ferguson has urged the fans to give Moyes time as the board did when he was struggling, it’s hard for the current generation of United fans to take following year after year of success. With a legacy as great as Ferguson’s, comes great pressure from the fans and the media and it seems to be overwhelming current boss, David Moyes. Significantly, the challenge the former Everton manager faces is coming directly at home where the team are failing to find a winning combination. Out of 13 games, United have lost six including a 2-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion. On three occasions this season the Red Devils have failed to score at home, something that only happened once last year in May when the title had already been won. At the time, Old Trafford was buzzing with a real party atmosphere after the return of the Premier League crown and the celebration of Fergie’s achievements over the years. Now the party has stopped as travelling fans come over to mock what used to be a fortress.

Heading for the Exit - Vidic  (Image from Getty)

Heading for the Exit – Vidic
(Image from Getty)

The squad is beginning to deteriorate. Nemanja Vidic announced last week that he will be leaving the club in the summer to pursue a ‘new challenge’. Obviously the current situation is a stretch too far even for the Serb to battle against. Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs’s contracts also run out this summer and there is still speculation over whether Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez will push for a move in the next transfer window. The loss of their main two centre backs will heavily effect the team and it will probably take time for Moyes to find a partnership that works. For the time being, the team should try and experiment with who they have such as Chris Smalling, Johnny Evans and Phil Jones who were initially brought in to replace the dynamic duo in the middle. Many will argue that a big name is needed at the back as it has been a while since the club has invested in a defensive rock. Players such as Dante and Mangala have been linked with moves but after this season, it’s hard to say whether these players would love a move to this part of Manchester.  Despite the loss of glamour, Juan Mata came in for a club record fee in the January window and he is still adamant that the club is considered a dream move for any player. After signing for the club, Mata said:

United is the perfect place for me and I am excited at the chance I have to be part of the next phase in the club’s history. Obviously for a player like me who is trying to score goals, assist goals and be a creative player it’s going to be amazing to play with those kinds of players. Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Adnan, Valencia, Chicharito, Welbeck… they are all top-level players.”

New Batch arriving - Mata  (Image from Getty)

New Batch arriving – Mata
(Image from Getty)

 The league table may indicate that the team is struggling but Sunday’s performance signalled otherwise after they dominated the game but had the three points nicked in the final minute. Still Moyes believes that the team were at fault for not taking earlier chances despite an encouraging display. Moyes told Sky Sports: “You can have as much possession as you like. We should have scored more. You’ve got to try to keep making it work. The players tried that and eventually the goals did come. Even when it was 2-1 and they put up five minutes of added time, Fulham never came up the pitch, they left us with the ball, so it was nearly a case of just playing out time, but we gave away a diabolical second goal. The players are hurting, I can see every day they are hurting because the results aren’t going the way they want. But we have a good team and there will be very few teams desperate to play us, that’s for sure.”

Bent's equalizer has heaped more pressure on United  (Image from AFP)

Bent’s equalizer has heaped more pressure on United
(Image from AFP)

 Manchester United now have a very important game against Arsenal on Wednesday which they need to win to keep up any hope of a Champions League place or even a Europa League spot. The Gunners on the other hand will want to bounce back after their 5-1 trouncing away at Anfield on Saturday which left them one point off the top. It really is make or break time for Moyes.

Blog by Richard Waterhouse

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Wenger Eyes Hernandez As The Missing Piece Of The Puzzle

Little Pea as an Arsenal Player? (Image from PA)Undoubtedly a player of considerable talent, Javier Hernandez finds himself sitting on the sidelines as his team, Manchester United continue to struggle for consistency.  The Mexican striker has been mostly overlooked by new boss David Moyes, who appears reluctant to deviate from the Van Persie/Rooney front pairing. Whilst Ferguson was the prophet of squad rotation, Moyes prefers to stick with a team and run with it. It’s frustrating times for the player nicknamed “Chicharito” or “Little Pea” who would prefer a starting berth than a place on the bench. Rumours around the player’s general happiness suggest that he is looking towards January’s transfer window as a potential time to call it quits at Old Trafford.

Hernandez chances have been limited this season (Image from Getty)

Hernandez chances have been limited this season (Image from Getty)

One potential destination for Hernandez could be Arsenal, which might not be a bad option. The Gunners have been on fire this season, finally starting to look like true contenders again, with Wenger making some smart choices that are now paying off. With the acquisition of Mezit Ozil and the re-emergence of Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal now has one of the best midfields in Europe and with a solid defence are pushing for honours on all fronts. Upfront Oliver Giroud has been a revelation, after a slow start to his career in the Premiership the Frenchman is now looking like the player he was at Montpellier – powerful and forceful in front of goal, strong with the ball at his feet or in the air and an accomplished finisher. But Arsenal’s only weakness and something that has haunted them for years is strength in depth. If Giroud was ruled out with a long term injury, Arsenal would be exposed up front. Yes they have options in the form of Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner, German front man Lukas Poldoski and South Korea’s Chu Young Park, but none of the trio has looked comfortable playing as the solo striker in Wengers chosen 4-2-3-1 formation. Hernandez would offer that comfort to Wenger and a lot more.

Wenger likes the look of Hernandez  (Image from AFP)

Wenger likes the look of Hernandez
(Image from AFP)

At 25, Hernandez still has his best years ahead of him and with a likely price tag of around $12million, is a compelling option for Wenger. The Arsenal manager is also examining a potential loan move for Juventus striker Fernando Llorente but a move for Hernandez would be more appealing. Llorente caught the media’s attention in Spain with some fine performances for Athletic Bilbao which earned him a move to Italy but the player has failed to settle and has looked out of sorts alongside former Manchester United and City striker Carlos Tevez. At 6ft 3in, he is in a similar mode to Giroud but Wenger realizes that he could only play as a replacement for the French striker and not alongside him. Hernandez however at 5ft 7in offers more options with the ability and pace to play as a lone striker or potentially as a strike partner to Giroud. Whist Wenger doesn’t like to adjust his system, having the ability to go to a 4-4-2 formation or a 3-5-2 is a huge draw for the experienced coach. Hernandez has shown in his time for United that he can score all types of goals from tap ins to headers to long range strikes and links up well with creative players, something that Arsenal have in abundance.

Giroud has been in superb form for Arsenal  (Image from Getty)

Giroud has been in superb form for Arsenal
(Image from Getty)

For Hernandez, keen to secure regular club football to protect his place in the national team, it could be the perfect move. With the quality of movement and service he can expect at Arsenal, opportunities to score will come thick and fast. Joining the gunners, he would quickly become the 2nd striker which considering he has slipped down the United pecking order to 4th behind Van Persie, Rooney and Welbeck, is certainly something to consider. He would face the backlash of the United faithful who would see a move to arch rivals Arsenal as a sign of disrespect but many others have made the transition and survived so Hernandez can too. His love and respect for the club that brought him to England and gave him his chance on the bigger stage is evident but if the club cannot guarantee first team football and is willing to sell him, then he must go for the sake of his career. If Arsenal can pull off his signature in January, it will be yet another great piece of business for Wenger, already basking in the glory of the Ozil transfer. Hernandez would likely be an instant success and could quite conceivably return to Old Trafford as an Arsenal player and haunt Moyes, something that the Scotsman is well aware of. He will be reluctant to sell the Little Pea to the Gunners but letting an unhappy player leave for the sake of the wider group will be more important to Moyes than where Hernandez ends up.

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England Hold Their Breath As The World Cup Draw Nears

Getting ready for the draw (Image from FIFA)With the World Cup draw happening tomorrow, nerves in the England camp are at an all time high.  England’s fate will be decided at 5pm (GMT) in Bahia, Brazil so in advance BOTN explores what could be England’s worst group.  Using the existing pools (England are in pot 4) and based on the various rules and regulations attached to the draw itself, here is the “Group of Death” for England. It features Spain from Pot 1, Chile from Pot 2 and Mexico form Pot 3 with England filling the final place from Pot 4.

Current World Cup holders, Spain  (Image from Getty)

Current World Cup holders, Spain
(Image from Getty)

The current World and European champions are amongst those in pot one that could pose a real threat to England’s chances. In fact all eight teams, with the possible exception of Switzerland will be a serious threat to England’s qualification hopes. Spain have talent in abundance and are incredibly hard to break down due to their intense passing game. Xavi and Iniesta are likely to dominate the play with Fabergas and Mata as support options. At the back, they have a solid backline with centre back pairing Barcelona’s Gerard Pique and Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos causing problems for opposition strikers, roaming just in front of Casillas, Reina or Valdes in goal. Upfront Spain’s rich talent pool continues with the likes of Fernando Torres, David Villa, Fernando Llorente and  Roberto Soldado to name a few offering options. Adding to this mix is newly converted Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa who has been in blistering form so far this season. The Brazilian born striker, who recently pledged his allegiance to Spain instead of his homeland, has forged a successful partnership with David Villa for Atletico. This surely gives Spanish head coach Vicente del Bosque food for thought on whether he should unleash the pair for Spain during next summer’s tournament.

Diego Costa and David Villa  (Image from AFP Getty Images)

Diego Costa and David Villa
(Image from AFP Getty Images)

Chile tested England in their last trip to Wembley just under a month ago as Alexis Sanchez backed up his talking off the pitch with a sublime performance. The Barcelona striker made a sly remark about England’s pathway system for future footballers stating how it was too easy for youngsters to join academies and automatically play for a club in the future. In Chile the academy system is nowhere near as advanced as it is in England but appears to be producing the goods. At Wembley they convincingly beat England 2-0, throwing Roy Hodgson’s plans into disarray. Although England chose to field an altered side for the match allowing them to test some new faces, it was a huge win for the South American’s who have shown with the emergence of star players like Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Felipe Gutiérrez and Gary Medal that they are a future force in world football.  Pot 3 may be considered to be the weakest pot but within them lies the stinging tail of Mexico who could relinquish all hope for England. With a squad made up of established stars and Olympic winning youthful exuberance, Mexico are considered to be one of the tournaments dark horses. Despite taking a rocky path in qualifying, Mexico’s strength is their desire to succeed which makes them a dangerous opponent.  Upfront, Mexico can call upon Manchester United’s  Javier Hernandez, Valencia’s Giovani Dos Santos or Santos Laguna’s Oribe Peralta to score the goals needed to progress.  In midfield, head coach Miguel Herrera mixes experience in the form of Andres Guardado (who is one game off his century for his country) with up and coming stars like Porto’s Héctor Herrera with some success. He could also spring a few surprises with his final squad selection if Erick Torres or Marco Fabian make the cut. Both players are good examples of the rich talent that Mexico is producing and that England needs to be aware of if they draw them in the World Cup.  

Chile ran out victors the last time they faced England  (Image from PA)

Chile ran out victors the last time they faced England
(Image from PA)

In the World Cup, there is no such thing as an easy team as England have found out in the past. There are various other teams who pose a threat to England’s chances of progression, most noticeably host’s Brazil, a Messi inspired Argentina and arch rivals, Germany. But some of the dark horses could also cause problems such as the Ivory Coast or Ecuador. Ivory Coast has plenty of talent including Manchester City’s Yaya Toure, former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, Roma’s Gervinho and CSKA Moscow’s Seydou Doumbia. They will be no pushovers, nor will Ecuador who are an improving side and will be a lot tougher than the last time England played them in 2006. Antonio Valencia and Vitesse’s Renato Ibarra are two talented wingers with lots of pace to burn plus with Felipe Caicedo up front, Ecuador could be a real threat. The country is still hurting from the death of legend Christian Benetiz so will be approaching the World Cup with a desire to do well for his memory. The USA are also amongst the group of teams who could be a potential danger as England found out in 2010 in South Africa. Coach Jürgen Klinsmann has spent the past few years experimenting with different players but now has established a nucleus of talent like Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley that he is building his team around. Added into this the emergence of Brek Shea, Terrance Boyd and Sunderland’s Jozy Altidore, Klinsmann has a strong group that is ready and prepared for the World Cup next year.

Hodgson will be hoping that he is still smiling after the draw  (Image from Getty)

Hodgson will be hoping that he is still smiling after the draw
(Image from Getty)

Hodgson and England will be hoping to avoid such a nightmare by drawing a generous group such as Switzerland, Algeria and Iran. Based on previous draws, England has had luck on their side but can it hold for Brazil? Interestingly one team in pot 4 will be moved into pot 2 just before the draw starts. This is to allow for 4 groups of eight and a somewhat easier drawing process. That said, it is still quite confusing as FIFA will not allow a group to have more than two European teams in it so adjustments will need to be made, ruling out the three European teams in Pot 1 being pulled.  If England were chosen for Pot 2, it could play in their favour or perhaps not. Either way, Hodgson is unlikely to get any sleep tonight as he worries about who his team will face next summer.

Blog by Richard Waterhouse

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Erick Torres Planning On Taking The World By Storm

On Fire: Erick Torres (Image from Getty)Mexico’s surprise win at last year’s Olympic Games highlighted a new batch of Mexican players about to take the football world by storm. Players like Marco Fabian, Nestor Araujo, Raul Jimenez and Jorge Enríquez all made a name for themselves at the Games and have attracted interest from clubs across the globe. But one player who didn’t make the squad is now blazing his own path in a quest to make himself known to the world and is doing a good job of it too. Erick Torres exploits on loan for Chivas USA have been nothing short of breathtaking and is starting to attract the gaze of foreign scouts from Europe’s biggest clubs. The young striker has been compared recently to another Mexican striker, Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez due to their similarity in their style of playing and his rapid success months after his debut. Like Hernandez, Torres is bursting with energy and lethal in the penalty box, making him one of the brightest prospects in Mexican football. Possessing an abundance of pace and flair as well as incredible close control, Torres looks set to become one of the worlds’s most feared strikers.

Follow my lead: Javier Hernandez leads the way  (Image from Getty)

Follow my lead: Javier Hernandez leads the way
(Image from Getty)

Born in Guadalajara, it seemed only right that Torres first club would be that of his home town. After starting in the youth teams, Torres was quickly promoted in 2010 to the first team as one of the most promising youngsters the club has ever produced. He made his official debut in the Mexican Primera División in November of that year against C.F. Monterrey, and marked his appearance in style with a debut goal which helped to salvage a point. That season he ended with 6 goals from 20 appearances including a stunning brace against Querétaro in March 2011 and a debut Super Clasico goal against arch-rivals América in a stunning 3-0 victory. The following season, Torres led the line for Guadalajara alongside Marco Fabian, finishing the season with 7 goals from 20 appearances. This form persuaded Chivas USA in the MLS to arrange a season long loan deal for the player, which has already started to pay dividends. Torres made his debut against Toronto and in usual Torres style marked it with the winning goal. He has continued in that vein with another 5 strikes in his last 6 games including a brace last Sunday against Vancouver. His first goal in that match highlighted the skill and talent he possesses as he scored with a stunning bicycle kick from the edge of the area, perfectly executed and simply unstoppable.

Torres scores against Seattle  (Image from Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports)

Torres scores against Seattle earlier this season
(Image from Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite his young age, Torres has already had success at international level at various levels, first captaining Mexico’s under 17 squad at the 2010 Milk Cup in Northern Ireland, before moving on to join Mexico’s Under 20’s squad at the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup where he helped Mexico to a third place finish. Despite missing out on a place in the Olympic squad, Torres has his heart set on making his full senior debut for Mexico in the not so distant future. With Mexico lying third in the CONCACAF group behind the USA and Costa Rica with four games left to play, Torres may get his shot, especially if his form for Chivas continues.

To see Torres bicycle kick, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6gIrl4r3R0

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United Fightback Stuns Newcastle As Rivals City Lose

Alex FergsuonIt was the tale of two cities this past Boxing day. In Manchester, United entertained a Newcastle side short on form and well out of luck. Having dropped points against Swansea at the weekend, Alex Ferguson’s men were keen to get back to winning ways against Pardew’s team who had lost 3 of their last 4 games coming into the match. But Newcastle showed spirit from the off and were ahead after only 4 minutes thanks to James Perch. And so began a thrilling match that would see Newcastle lead three times only to be pegged back three times and eventually dealt a sucker blow with Hernandez’s 90th minutes strike. It was a hard pill for Pardew to swallow as for so much of the game, Newcastle looked worthy of a point, if not 3. For the first time in more than a month, the Toon Army were given a glimpse of last season’s form that has so far deluded the team this year.

Hernandez late strike sinks Newcastle

Hernandez late strike sinks Newcastle
(Image: bleacherreport.com)

Up in Sunderland, Manchester City were looking to put a poor performance against Reading behind them, where they snatched the three points thanks only to a later Gareth Barry goal. They faced Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland who lie mid table but have hardly shown the form that they are capable of. Indeed Steven Fletcher’s influence and goals looks like one of the few reasons why Sunderland aren’t involved in this years relegation battle. City struggled early on in the match to find their gear and fell behind in the early part of the second half to a goal scored by former City player Adam Johnson. Johnson, who joined City from Middlesbourgh in the January 2010 window for a reported £7m, failed to hold down a first team place under Mancini and was sold this summer to Sunderland for a reduced fee. A pacey winger, Johnson has flourished at Sunderland with some fine performances, including yesterday’s one against his old club. Mancini’s team were unable to get the equalizer they needed and left the Stadium of Light without any points and now sit 7 points behind rivals United.

Johnson returns to haunt City

Johnson returns to haunt City
(image: Getty)

With Chelsea picking up three points with a 1-0 victory over Norwich and Tottenham and Everton continuing their form with victories, the pressure must surely be on Mancini. Out of the Champions League and desperate to retain the league title again, Mancini knows that City’s wealthy owners are running out of patience and quickly. With the January transfer window approaching, Mancini will look to strengthen his squad but may not be given the chance if the owners feel that now is the perfect time to change leaders. Guardiola is rumoured to be open to discussing new opportunities and the potential for him to succeed Mancini may be too much to look past. Across the city, Ferguson will know the importance of Hernandez’s 90th minute goal and the psychological effect it will have on the title race. United will know that if they can maintain good form in the last half of the season and hold off the chasing pack, they could see themselves lifting a record 13th Premiership title in May.