They say that things get better with age.
And there might not be a finer example of that than one man in particular at Leeds United, at least that’s according to one former Premier League striker.
Pablo Hernandez has been a crucial part of the team this season, scoring four goals and contributing four assists, all at the grand old age of 34, and this despite missing a large part of the season with two separate injuries in September and December.
And speaking to Football Insider, Kevin Phillips has said that he can be the difference between Marcelo Bielsa’s men and the rest of the chasing pack in the chase for promotion:
“He’s a good player, he’s a Bielsa player, his work rate’s excellent, his technical ability is excellent and he can score goals. Any side in any league wants players like that and I’ve enjoyed watching him over the years, he’s the one you want on the ball as he has tricks and can surprise teams. Everyone loves to see him play. From Leeds’ point of view, they need to keep him fit between now and the end of the season because again he could be the difference.”
Whilst what Phillips says might be true, this goes back to what I said a couple of months ago about Hernandez, and that I fear we’re in danger of being too reliant on him, both this season and going forward, and that if we are putting the hopes of promotion on the shoulders of someone who’s fast approaching 35, then there’s something quite worrying going on.
And if we are being reliant on him now, then just imagine the kind of danger we’d be in the Premier League if were promoted and had to pin survival hopes on someone approaching 36.
What is Hernandez's best position?
That’s why I think it’s so crucial that the other players in the squad start stepping up, and whilst some players have done that, most notably Jack Harrison’s run of form in November and December, those sort of performances need to start being produced by the rest of the squad if Leeds are to stand any chance of being promoted this season rather than ‘falling apart again’.