Date: 18th January 2013 at 3:52pm
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Is there a harder job in football than filling the shoes of Cristiano Ronaldo?

The Portuguese front man, who left Manchester United to join Real Madrid in the summer of 2009 for a staggering £80m, was recognised as not only the greatest player to appear for Manchester United in modern times, but also the greatest player to ever appear in the Premier League; so anybody deemed as a replacement really had his work cut out.

Step in Antonio Valencia – the man who did not smile for two full seasons.

Brought in for £16m, yet at the time still relatively unknown to most – ‘Tony V’ was seen as a rookie to begin with; a totally different footballer and character to Cristiano.

A well mannered, shy Ecuadorian who’s most recognisable achievement was keeping Wigan in the Premier League surely couldn’t carry the mantle from the confident, self groomed, world beater who broke record after record whilst playing at Old Trafford?

Now let’s skip four years and fast forward to this season. The current form of Valencia is derisory.

He cannot beat a man, his crosses have been crashing into row Z, and hitting the target with any efforts on goal seems near impossible.

Let’s face it, had this happened in 2009 when he first joined United, it would have gone slightly unnoticed as nobody expected him to materialise into such an outstanding winger.

It would have been as simple as this: Sell Ronaldo, replace with Valencia, not good enough, sell Valencia, look for a different replacement.

However, what goes against the 27-year-old is clearly his own doing. During 2009-2012, Antonio Valencia had performed at such a high standard that the United faithful expect great things from him every single week which is an impossible ask.

There isn’t one winger who rips Ashley Cole to pieces every single time they play. Antonio Valencia does.

Not every winger hugs the touchline and waits for his opportunity; most get frustrated and come in field looking for the ball, relinquishing their defensive duties and hindering the shape of the side. Antonio Valencia doesn’t.

What you get with Tony V is honesty and work rate. I can definitely think of times when I have cursed him for a poor delivery, but I cannot think of one occasion when he has picked personal glory over the good of the team.

Now moving on to a topic which frustrates me immensely – that number.

Being handed the coveted number seven shirt seems to play on the mind of the Twitter brigade far too much for my liking.

Yes it was the shirt worn by the great George Best, captain marvel Bryan Robson, the king himself Eric Cantona and of course golden balls David Beckham… but it was also the number worn by Michael Owen and Ralph Milne who, let’s face it, were rubbish.

Antonio Valencia being the latest number seven simply has no relevance on his game, and for every tweet I see that refers to him as losing his form because of the pressure of the number; or that he isn’t worthy – I die a little inside.

To clarify the point that I have strayed from – I can see Antonio Valencia is having a tough time at the moment. He doesn’t look confident and he has forgotten how to deliver a cross; but this doesn’t make him a bad player and it doesn’t mean his time is up at the club.

Only three months ago it was apparently time for Nani to leave – but now Valencia isn’t firing on all cylinders, Nani is vital again? You are having a laugh.

I would bet my house that Antonio Valencia recaptures his scintillating and devastating form in time for the season run-in, and all of his critics will be eating their words come May.

I would even go as far as saying Nani will also have a huge part to play, therefore leaving somebody else to get unfairly slaughtered… Enter Carrick.

 To respond to me directly I am on Twitter: @NathonW


7 responses to “Does Antonio Valencia Really Deserve This Criticism?”

  1. GAZZARO says:

    Honestly, Valencia is not good enough to replace Ronaldo, and maybe not good enough for Man.United. If we compare Valencia and Nani, of course, Nani is a far better player and if both being made available in the transfer market, it is sure that Nani’s price will be much higher than Valencia.

    Valencia has a terrific pace, but has no skill at all. He cannot beat any defender and apparently ha sno confidence. He rarely take on any defenders so most of the time is just knock the ball backwards or waiting for a kiiler pass from the other to run without the ball. Nani comparatively is a much more skillful player and his stlye of play, if improve the final ball, is more similar to Ronaldo. The Portugese has full of tricks to beat defender and always love to take on and beat the opposition. Nani can provide penetration and moment of magic for us if SAF give him more opportunities.

  2. Pre Munich Red says:

    Valencia’s attitude is second to none. He gives 100% every match. He has great pace and it is clearly untrue to say he has no skill. Skill does not only mean being able to perform circus tricks.
    What he does lack is a left foot. Defences have worked this out and stop him going down the wing knowing that he will simply stop and play the ball backwards. This is a shame because on the VERY rare occasions he uses his left it isn’t that bad. If he used it every now and then like other one footed players such as Gareth Bale full backs would have a more difficult job in containing him.

  3. So you believe Nani is ahead of Valencia in the pecking order? What about Young?

  4. Al says:

    Who thought Aron Lenon would improve the boy was a robot programmed to never move of the line and to do one and only one thing when he had the ball, run at a defender and cross the ball, that was all his game, you could bet your house that he would try that same move every time again and again, there was no element of surprise in his game, I remember once Tottenham was playing PSV in Europa and the defender who was up against Lenon wouldn’t even bother about his runs, every time lemon had the ball this guy wouldnt press him he would go and wait at the spot where 99.9% lemon would end up to cross, it was just a great tactic because lemon is fast so why,press him and risk getting turned over, just wait for him he’ll find you there waiting because that’s how he’s programmed to play the game, he’s one dimensional he’ll never surprise you and do something different like a different cross or change his course of his runs. He’s a robot. Then came Henry Rednap who unshackled him, freed him up, improved him from a player who would hug the line all 90 minutes to a player who able to roam and find space as well as creating space for team mates, from a player who had only one game plan (run and cross) to someone who gets involved in link ups in different areas, he’s become versatile, he has more understanding of the game he’s become a better player. I used to laugh at that boy I used to call him an idiot, and he wasn’t the only one, Downing was like that, Adam Jonson was the same but they have changed their games and they became better players now. TonyV reminds me of Lenon when he was a robot, he needs to change his game he needs to improve you can’t be stagnant and one dimensional at the highest level, he has to do something about his game or he’s finished because everyone knows his game now and it’s not that hard to nullify, all a defender needs is a bit of pace to match him on his runs then it’s either you bloke his cross or make him pass it backward or get him to kik it out of the stadium. Am expecting Nani to start on the right on Sunday

  5. Andrew says:

    The truth is all three wide players have not performed to Man Utd standards this season. I mean Valencia, Young and Nani have all been hot and cold, but mostly cold. I still believe Valencia is the best winger at the club, but his confidence has sadly gone. I think his performance against West Ham on Wednesday was poor.

    We don’t have a lot of options so I think Valencia will start against Tottenham, along with Kagawa on the left side. Kagawa is a not a natural winger but he is intelligent and uses space really well. I think he will get better the more games he plays and in the role that David Silva occupies for Man City. They are floating wide players and move inside to cause damage.

    I do believe Ferguson is planning to freshen the wide area and that could mean Wilfried Zaha arriving. We had been linked with James Rodriguez as well but perhaps his high price tag has put Ferguson off. Zaha look a raw talent but with a lot of potential to grow.

  6. Dan says:

    Top post. I’ve been a bit down with Tony V and his performances recently, not enough to criticise him constantly, couldn’t give a shit about the “nr 7” pressure and as you say, the twitter brigade! This post has just highlighted the good parts of AV that modern day fans seem to forget, and even to my shame so did I for a short while!

    …. He won’t be going back in my fantasy team tho ha.