Date: 24th April 2012 at 2:35am
Written by:
Tevez is probably praying Rafael doesn't start

Tevez is probably praying Rafael doesn't start

Driving back home after the debacle that occurred on Sunday afternoon, despite not wishing to be reminded of what I’d just witnessed, nor wanting to listen to gleeful ABU presenters dancing on United’s title supposed title grave, I turned on Talksport

The first caller came up with an idea that at first seemed laughable. “We should play Antonio Valencia at right back when we go to Eastlands”

“No f*cking way! We can’t have our best winger, our most useful attacking force, pushed back into defence, that’s madness” I shouted at my radio as though someone was listening and could actually respond.

The caller began to list the problems he had with trusting Rafael Da Sliva for such a vital game, “he’s gifted but he’s a little bit too erratic, you never know whether he’ll make a mistake or a reckless challenge that could cost us dearly.”

“Mmm” I thought, not a bad point, granted but surely not enough to warrant moving a player who’s been beyond awesome for many months, into defence.

The more I thought about the caller’s suggestion, the more I warmed to the idea, not because I think Rafael isn’t a good player, he is, although I do have my concerns over his temperament and discipline, but also because there’s three wingers at United who all deserve a place in the starting line up.

With Valencia at right back it would allow Nani to play in his favoured position and give Ashley Young a chance to prove all the critics who’ve focused on his fondness for hitting the ground like a sniper victim every time he’s touched, rather than his excellent football skills. Then there’s also Valencia’s ability to get forward from deep and overlap Nani, much as Evra does on the left with Young or whoever. Just because the Ecuadorian would be playing at right back doesn’t mean he’s suddenly robbed of the ability to get forward- or the permission to either.

When it comes to Valencia, the last few games he hasn’t been quite the barnstorming winger he was the previous fifteen or so, as teams have seemed to cotton onto just how vital he is to United’s attacks and focused more effort and players on preventing him from making the amount of runs he usually does. I’m not for one minute saying Valencia’s been poor -he hasn’t- just that he seems to be putting in 6 or 7 out of 10 performances rather than 8 or 9 in the past few games.

Valencia has shown over the past two seasons that he’s more than adept at filling in at right back and there’s little doubt he can cope with anything City have to throw down their left hand side, be it David Silva, Nasri or whoever. With Rafael in the position, I can’t help but worry, that he may do a rash challenge early on and find himself in the referee’s book, whereby he’s suddenly got to watch every single challenge is perfect lest he get himself sent off. I’m not saying the Brazilians dirty, or that he’s always getting himself sent off, just that the way he plays, right on the edge and with such zeal, could leave him open to either being exposed by City’s wingers or punished by Andre Marriner- and not Howard Webb, despite all the rumours.

There are other options at right back of course, United could use Phil Jones there, although Ive yet to be convinced his best position isn’t in midfield and  throwing him in against Silva or whoever could be asking too much of a player that sometimes looks a little unsure in defence.

Chris Smalling is another choice but he’s hardly played at all lately and even if he was fit, would it be such a good idea putting him straight into a title decider? Probably not.

With Nani and Valencia down the right and Young and Evra down the left, United have two strong flanks that can handle both the attacking and defending aspects of the game, with the sort of pace and skill that could leave City dumbfounded.

Rafael was caught out a couple of times against Everton and while I think he’s got a great United future ahead of him, I can’t help but think for once a caller I heard on the radio, may just have hit the nail on the head.

Am I wrong? Is Rafael the obvious choice for Eastlands? Is it a waste of Valencia’s considerable talents putting him in defence?

Feel free to comment, suggest and abuse below:

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22 responses to “Antonio Valencia At Right Back For Eastlands?”

  1. Gorse Hill Red says:

    Rafael’s ball watching on Sunday was criminal and the Everton players could not believe they had a such easy shots on goal.

    No question that Rafael will be dropped for the Bitters but have a feeling he will go conservative and play Jones.

    I seriously think whoever wins wins the title as the Bitters goal difference will be higher than seven, near impossible over two games.

  2. Jon mc says:

    I’d be concerned with the left side too! Evra was at least 10 yards off his man all game on Sunday and was at fault for the second goal, allowing them to get the cross in! At times he was like a headless chicken

  3. vasanth says:

    Oh plz no we need Rafa ! Rafa will play his heart our vs rivals ! 🙂

    Valencia + rafa combo was running sucessess fully.

    Nani at Left ! 🙂

  4. Me says:

    At first i thought you must have been high when you wrote this but it actually sounds like a good idea

  5. Rosco says:

    I totally agree with this selction. As the old adage goes, attacking is the best form of defending. Valencia at right back and Nani at right wing, the best to secure the three points for us.

  6. Ez says:

    Not a bad idea…. But He doesnt jump for headers like Rafael does. And when a winger cuts in Valencia has a weak left foot to defend. I”ll still go with Rafael.

  7. greg says:

    Its not a bad shout but the lad Evans has been worse over the last two games i do not think for one second that we need to make that change we are top of the league and that is due to the side that has played most of the season rafa included give the lad a break as a team we became complacent against everton and they looked dangerous every time they attacked, fellani ran the show its a team game this football thing we all talk about i think we are too quick to jump on a lads backs and i would 100% not put jones in there he has been poor recently he needs to find a position and hold it down or become the next phill neville

  8. S1 says:

    Sorry bad idea, Valencia has no left foot mancini, platt etc will cotton on to that quickly – Rafa deserves his place at RB with Tony infront of him. I’m just praying to God we do not see Jones, Giggs or Park anywhere near our Midfield on Monday night (Blasphemy saying this about Giggs but unfortunately its the truth) – Just have this worrying and horrible feeling that Fergie will set us up like its a european night. Same team as weekend for me give them an opportunity to put it right.

  9. HV says:

    i dont’t get it. Why put all the attacking force…Saf might only go for a draw? who knows? we’re 3 points ahead. we might be put more on a defensive mind.
    i dun think valencia would play right back, as his left foot is rusted and can’t get hte ball away quick enough sometimes.

  10. xmas says:

    Valencia wasn’t terrible at RB when he had to play there earlier this season but it took him a few games to play more like a defender and less like a winger playing RB. And still, as always, he looked most comfortable when attacking.

    Mancini’s not stupid. If we have Nani/Valencia on the right and Evra/Young on the left, City will rip us apart on the flanks.
    I’m more worried about pretty-boy Evans up against Tevez, Toure, Silva, Aguero, etc. than I am about Rafael. If we go with Valencia, we’ll have only Rio as a truly reliable defender. Unless there’s a surprise somewhere and Vidic is going to make a comeback!

    Valencia has been muted (tired? defenders figured him out?) the last few games and at the moment, on form, our best wingers are Nani and Young. Start them. Leave Rafa on the right.