United’s win over Ajax came at a price that was arguably much more costlier than a defeat would have been. News that Antonio Valencia could be out for around four weeks following a hamstring injury picked up in his brief cameo, is about as welcome as Adrian Chiles at an open mike comedy night.
Valencia hasn’t just been ‘in fine form’ as some of our less exuberant commentators have suggested, the man’s been putting in the sort of performances that grab hold of titles and smash them firmly down in the middle of the Old Trafford trophy cabinet. The whole United side seems to have realised that giving the ball to Valencia will result in a goal scoring opportunity and the opposition despite knowing this have been completely powerless to stop it. The only time United have struggled lately is when we’ve been unable to get the ball to Valencia enough, not due to him being wasteful when he has it.
It would be wrong to say that everything good attacking wise has been the fruit of Valencia’s labours these past couple of months but that statement isn’t completely far-fetched. Yes, Michael Carrick has been awesome, Rooney has delivered and Danny Welbeck has gone from strength to strength but for sheer attacking penetration theres no denying that Valencia has been head and shoulders above anyone not just at Old Trafford but also the entire Premier League. Ask yourself an honest question would you have swapped Valencia for David Silva these past ten or so games? I know what my answer is – its the same one I give when asked if I’d like to watch an episode of The Only Way is Essex or give that John Bishop dvd a go.
Valencia is out for at least a month though- according to the initial reports and just as crying over Nemanja Vidic or Tom Cleverley’s injuries haven’t helped us, neither will lamenting the loss of the Ecuadorian. Onwards and upwards in the face of adversity is the United way. Yes, its devastating to lose yet another key player to injury just as he was in the form or his career but we should have the squad to cope. Step forward Mr Luis Carlos Almeida Da Cunha.
Now I’ll be the first to admit Nani -or ‘the Nani show’ as I like to refer to him can be the most frustrating player ever to wear the sacred Red shirt. It’s not that Nani doesn’t have talent, in fact I’d argue he’s one of the most talented players in the world, it’s just that his decision making can at times range from the puzzling to the downright shocking, plus his theatrics are often Oscar-worthy. I’ve defended Nani over the past few seasons and seemed to be in the majority leading up to the trip to Anfield last season as the winger had finally fulfilled his promise. Jamie Carragher all but ended Nani’s season, however, causing him to lose momentum that he never fully regained, not helped by the return of Tony V which pushed Nani out on to the left wing when he obviously prefers the right.
With Ashley Young and Tom Cleverley returning there’s a good chance we could see the sort of football that dazzled us at the beginning of the season, with Cleverley, Rooney, Nani, Young and Anderson- now replaced by Carrick or Scholes entertaining us in almost Barca-esque fashion.
The thing with Nani is, there’s often no half-measures, he’s either brilliant, Wolves home, Fulham away, or he’s awful Blackburn home, Newcastle away. With our most consistent winger out though and with Ashley Young still to fully prove he’s United class- despite some good performances over the season, I still feel the jury’s out, it’s now time for Nani to step up and show us what he’s made of for EVERY game over the nest month.
Rooney is going to miss Valencia’s crosses and whoever’s at right back will also miss his tracking back, so there’s two areas straight away that Nani isn’t always up to scratch on. Don’t get me wrong he’s not too shabby in the assists department but its safe to say, Tony V is much more accomplished at delivering decent crosses on a regular basis.
Nani has the chance over the next few games, which include tough away trips to White Hart Lane and Carrow Road, to show why he’s so confident in his own ability and that he is a player who can be counted on when it really matters. Can the Nani show see us through? I’ve no doubt it can and it will.
Do you agree that Nani is the key, or is he a liability -top rhyming, I’m sure you’ll agree.
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