Former Manchester United striker Frank Stapleton grabbed plenty of goals for the Reds in the 80’s so he knows when he sees a special one. As far as Stapleton is concerned, new signing Javier Hernandez has all the qualities to be one out of the box. Many United fans were asking ‘who?’ when Sir Alex Ferguson shelled out £10m for the 22 year old Mexican towards the end of last season but goals for his country against France and Argentina at the World Cup soon gave them an emphatic answer.
Stapleton was the first signing made for United by former manager Ron Atkinson at the beginning of the 1981-82 season when a fee of £900,000 was paid to Arsenal for the Dublin born striker. His six years at Old Trafford produced 78 goals in 365 matches including the sensational third goal against a Diego Maradona led Barcelona in 1984 to overturn a two goal away deficit in the European Cup Winners Cup quarter final and go through 3-2 on aggregate. That was an evening which still ranks amongst the most unforgettable as the United faithful were sent into ecstasy.
In an interview with the Manchester Evening News this week, Stapleton expressed the opinion that Ferguson will now be thinking of handing Hernandez a spot in the Premier League starting lineup “The views of United fans on him are now totally different and I think the expectations are now going to be much higher” Stapleton said “he might have arrived without much of a fanfare at the start of the new season but he has shown at the World Cup that perhaps we can expect more from him. He has a good opportunity now to hit the ground running in England. Time will tell how he handles that. But the good thing for him is that Sir Alex Ferguson knows just how to introduce young players.”
“If the player shows up well early on in pre season then the manager might just says let’s go with him. Players find their level. It might start well for Hernandez and then he peaks and there is a reaction. But Fergie will see that and know it is time to give him a breather. He might not have considered Javier for an immediate impact but it has happened in the past where players who were looked on as ‘ones for the future’ have made such a good early impression that the United manager has given them a chance.”
“I am sure Sir Alex will have been taken by what he saw at the World Cup” Stapleton continued “none of us knew what to expect from Hernandez. Nobody had seen anything of him and in truth those early games didn’t suggest much. But he grew in the tournament and when you score goals of the quality he has on the biggest stage of the lot then you have to sit up and take notice.”
Should Stapleton’s assessment on Hernandez prove to be correct, it may raise some awkward questions for Ferguson. If he decides to go with a Rooney-Hernandez combination, what will the future of Dimitar Berbatov be except possibly having a £32m substitute warming the bench? Or will Sir Alex go back on his assurances that Berbatov will be staying at Old Trafford by allowing him to go to one of the many European clubs chasing his signature?
Rooney is not expected to be on the July North American pre season tour which leads one to wonder what the outcome will be if Berbatov and Hernandez prove to be a successful combination? The question will then be raised whether Sir Alex may be tempted to accept the huge amount of cash being offered for Rooney by Real Madrid in the same way that he did with Cristiano Ronaldo last year? That, will be the most worrying possibility on the minds of many United fans.
Is Ferguson likely to be tempted by a huge offer for Rooney?