Antonio Valencia rightfully was Manchester United’s best player last season and is one of the best wingers in the world. A certain Pep Guardiola has waxed lyrical about him in the past and who’s he to disagree with?
After all the Ecuadorian has a great work-rate, has an eye for goal, often picks out his man and very rarely goes wanting on the big occasion.
However despite all that his performances this season haven’t quite been as dazzling as one would have expected them to have been.
At times he has been blistering. His performances at home to Arsenal and away to Liverpool, Chelsea and most famously Manchester City were brilliant. However there have been some games where he’s been rather poor and has almost caught ‘Nani syndrome’ where he’s got into good positions down the flanks only to lose possession whilst dallying with the ball or failing to find his man inside the area.
Of course that’s not to say he isn’t still a major player for United. After all since his arrival from Wigan Athletic in 2009 he hasn’t really had a bad patch of form. In fact the only time that he hasn’t made an impact for the side was when he was injured for the first half of the 2011/12 season thanks to that nasty ankle break he picked up against Rangers in the Champions League.
However the one thing that Valencia does have this season which he hasn’t had before (aside from the honour of wearing the no. 7 shirt) is the fact that in terms of his place he doesn’t have that much competition.
Ashley Young tends to play on the left whereas Nani who in the past has provided strong competition for United’s rightwing berth has barley turned up this season thanks to some frustrating performances and his own injury problems. Could it be then that this lack of competition perhaps has made it too easy at times for Valencia?
Perhaps if Nani was on-song it would more pressure on Valencia. Then again perhaps critics of the Ecuador sensation are reading too much into some bad decision making. After all defenders will not want to be embarrassed by him and are forcing him to work harder to get the better of them. That’s a price that great players have to pay.
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87