David Moyes must trust Javier Hernandez to save West Ham season
Javier Hernandez's mood must have matched that of most West Ham supporters when David Moyes was appointed Slaven Bilic's successor last week.
Sidelined at Manchester United when the former Everton boss succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, the popular Hernandez was first loaned to Real Madrid and eventually sold to Bayer Leverkusen.
Although it was Moyes' successor Louis van Gaal who eventually took the brunt of the criticism for dispensing with the services of the fans' favourite, the rot started under Moyes. With the striking options available at Old Trafford when Moyes took over, the Scot decided Hernandez wasn't his first choice and started him in only five games. The player never regained his first team slot with any regularity even after Moyes was unceremoniously dumped 10 months later.
Given another opportunity in the Premier League following his transfer to West Ham in the summer, Hernandez must be a worried man. Injured in Mexico's 3-3 draw with Belgium during the international break, he'll be concerned if his injury keeps him out of too many of West Ham's upcoming games. Once out, he may find it hard to get back in.
Inevitably, Moyes has moved quickly to quell theories isn't someone he fancies. The "everyone will get a chance to show me what they can do," line is the starting point for most managers taking over a new club. In Moyes' case, however, the platitudes need to have some substance. He doesn't have the striking riches he found at Old Trafford. His best chance of succeeding at the London Stadium is to get the players he does have working effectively. He will need Hernandez.
West Ham don't have a bad squad. They are a player or two short of having a balanced side, though, and that's what Moyes has to address. It's unlikely he will find what he seeks in the current squad and an expensive foray into the transfer market will almost certainly be required in January. Before then, Moyes needs to find a way to break out of the malaise and ensure the transfer window means fine tuning rather than panic changes. Hernandez can help him on that score. With four goals in 11 appearances in a stuttering team, he has established himself as a favourite among the fans.
As Bilic tried desperately to try and coax some life from his ailing side, fans were appreciative of Hernandez's efforts. Although he often looked lost as Bilic pushed him wide to accommodate Andy Carroll, Chicharito impressed with his willingness and desire, and the Croatian boss suffered taunts several times when he chose to substitute the player. Although an honourable man and someone who will always be welcomed back in the East End, Bilic sadly lost his way and his failure to buy well in the transfer market and his ability to get the best out of those he did buy resulted in his unfortunate demise in Stratford.
Ultimately, although it may be argued Chicharito wasn't the best option for a club like West Ham, Bilic can't be criticised for trying to bring in better quality players. It's something Moyes will have to get used to very quickly. During the Hammers' puffing and wheezing start to the season, many pundits have pointed to clubs like Brighton, Huddersfield and Bournemouth and shown the work ethic and desire of several underrated players who might have performed well in the Claret and Blue. That's not how West Ham see themselves, however. The move to Stratford has underlined the long-held desire to move themselves back to former glories and big names with big expectations are expected and demanded.
The simple fact is that if West Ham can get Hernandez working successfully up front, they have a player who can score between 10-15 goals a season and that would not only decide their fate in any relegation battle, it could see them so safe by spring that everyone will wonder what the fuss was about.
West Ham fans and owners want that. Just as importantly, if Moyes has any future as a Premier League manager, he will want that too.
Peter Thorne, aka Billy Blagg (@BillyBlaggEsq), is ESPN FC's West Ham blogger.