Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Return of Antonio

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Is Antonio Valencia now United's most important player?

If you had asked a Manchester United fan at the start of the season to list the team's most important players, they probably would have rattled off the likes of Rooney, Ferdinand, Vidic, Nani and Hernandez.

Ask them to compile a list based on the players' performances over the last few weeks, and it is likely that Antonio Valencia's name will be top of the list.

The unsung South American is the main reason why United's season is back on track in the Premier League and FA Cup.

Sir Alex Ferguson hailed his display in Saturday's 3-0 win against Bolton as "absolutely outstanding" after the winger provided great service from his flank, delivering 12 crosses.


He was just as hot in December and he provided seven assists in five games as United banged in 18 goals.

It's not rocket science to work out why Valencia is playing so well and he is finally back in his preferred right-wing position after being asked to fill in at full-back.

He missed the start of the season when he was injured on Copa America duty with Ecuador and when he returned, Fergie played him at right-back because of injuries to Chris Smalling and Rafael.

Now Fergie can unleash him on the right wing and United are reaping the benefits.

Valencia has had an up and down time at United since his £16million switch from Wigan in 2009.

He had the unenviable task of trying to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, but managed to shrug off this burden, linking up well with Rooney.

Last season was marred by injury and it is only now that United fans are seeing the best of him on a consistent basis.

For United supporters raised on wingers like Steve Coppell and Andrei Kanchelskis, Valencia is a throwback to those days.

Valencia's game is all about beating his defender and delivering a dangerous cross for his forwards to score.

Strikers love playing with him and he has a great ability to whip over fast, low crosses which are just asking to be put away.

Michael Carrick is glad he doesn't have to play against him after watching him torment Bolton's Sam Ricketts.

"You just keep giving him the ball and he carries it up the pitch and creates opportunities for us," he said.

"It must be horrible to play against him, but it's great to have him in our team."

I think United fans would all concur with that.

Source: mirrorfootball.co.uk

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