As the season began, there were those who had the temerity to write off Javier Hernandez. His second campaign at Manchester United had been indifferent, and there were concerns that the injury he picked up on international duty in 2011 was more serious than had been reported. In the past month, his goals have taken United to the top of the league and kept them there.
United's midfield remains fallible and they were not able to fashion any decisive chances for the front line in the first 50 minutes. Normally that wouldn't matter too much, but in the meantime Aston Villa went two up. Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick held possession admirably, but still, when Villa broke they looked dangerous.
Perhaps this is how English football is evolving now. In recent times, when Rafael Benitez's Liverpool and Jose Mourinho's Chelsea were riding high, tactics had a nullifying edge to them. The objective of those sides was to asphyxiate the strengths of their opponents. Since the elevation of Pep Guardiola's Barca, possession football and attacking have had more prevalence.
Alex Ferguson's latest United could be seen to represent a new stage: To hell with tactics, let's just attack. It has resonance with Sir Matt Busby's famous "Just go out and play" team talks.
Nobody can complain about the entertainment factor at United games this season. Anybody who turns up is getting their money's worth. This week they have fired in another six goals, recovered from losing positions twice and put daylight between them and their nearest rivals. They haven't even played that well.
This season's narrative has been set, and it is one with an encouraging tone. This team does not know when it is beaten. It can only be good if the players believe they can win from any losing position. They have proved it enough times now.
Nonetheless, more professional displays will, hopefully, see them go behind less often. Despite the heroic and entertaining nature of the comebacks, the defending just can't go on like this. So far, an average of 1.5 goals conceded a game is deeply troubling. There are five teams in the bottom half of the table with more impressive defences than the league leaders.
This was despite United fielding what is starting to look like their first choice defence. The jury is out on the latest Nemanja Vidic recovery so a back four of Rafael, Chris Smalling, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra, with David De Gea in goal, is as good as it gets for the Mancunians. In order to improve the goals-conceded statistic, that set of players need an extended run of games together. Those in the treatment room will be crossing their fingers.
Fergie spoke recently about Chicharito being the only one of his front players who was a specialist. There was something heart-warming about the pure ruthlessness of his first. It was a goal that only strikers with the smell of blood in their nostrils score. Under pressure from the covering defender and with the keeper closing down, he looked up and snuck the ball into the far corner.
Hernandez harried Ron Vlaar into conceding an own goal after 63 minutes, but that deflection was the only thing denying him a hat-trick. Despite being on the field for just 45 minutes, the whole game belonged to him. His third, a diving header, was almost a goal from another era, so rarely do we see finishes of that nature nowadays.
Progress is being made every week by Manchester United, and with Christmas decorations going up in the shops, they lead the league. For Hernandez, at least, this season couldn't have started any better.
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