Sunday’s sickening last-minute draw with Tottenham told many United fans very little we didn’t already know. Robin Van Persie is pretty good at playing football, Chris Foy isn’t very good at refereeing, David De Gea is among the best shot stoppers in the world, Michael Carrick can no longer be called ‘underrated.’ One small factoid many Reds will have picked up with a weary heart is the shocking performance levels of Antonio Valencia- even from the bench.
Regular readers of this site- all four of you- will no doubt be fed up of me banging on about our Ecuadorian winger- in fact- or many of our other writers for that matter, but the simple fact is his form cannot be ignored. It’s becoming embarrassing watching a player who was so full of confidence and vigour- so much so he was ‘awarded’ the iconic number 7 shirt- become reduced to a man who looks as though he’s won a raffle to play for Manchester United for the day.
The groans are no becoming audible when Valencia -not just gives the ball away or fails to run at his man but actually- takes to the field. It’s almost like a deviancy amplification spiral- he’s got no confidence, he’s playing badly- the crowd are getting on his back- which makes him lose confidence and play badly.
I think we’ve now reached the point where extreme measures are needed if we’re ever going to see the same Valencia that all but carried us to a title near-miss at the back end of last season. Ive suggested – in all seriously- sports psychologists, a proper rest, maybe even time away from the club for a few weeks. Now though I’m beginning to think Valencia’s form has become that clamant it’s now time for the ‘written warning’ of footballers- a loan move.
“What?! Loan out our number 7?! Have a day off Jay we need him!” I you scream as you spit your morning coffee all over your screen, well allow me to elucidate such a seemingly outrageous suggestion.
We can afford to lose him for the season. There i’ve said it, on current form we simply do not need Tony v for the upcoming months. With Nani back- yes I know he’s inconsistent but even he did more against West Ham than Tony V’s done for some time now, Ashley Young able to operate on either wing and a system that can operate without conventional wingers we can afford a Tony-less season. There’s also Danny Welbeck who while I’m adamant is a better striker than a winger- has shown he can at least offer something down the flanks that’s been missing when Tony V plays.
It may be the only way to save his football career let alone his United one. Tony v seems so unhappy- remember how against Liverpool last week he was the only United player who didn’t celebrate- that you have to wonder whether he really is falling out of love with the game itself and if he’s actually become a spent force. I don’t think either case is true but a loan move may allow him to rekindle his love for football with out the pressure of being under the United spotlight.
At the moment Antonio Valencia probably sits alongside Andrei Kanchelskis just below Lee Sharpe in the list of United greats and hasn’t quite reached ‘legendary’ status – at least not yet. A loan move for the rest of the season could help the old Valencia return for the next campaign and do the job we know he’s capable of, or conversely prove he’s simply ‘lost it’ and is no longer up to the job of top level football- naturally I hope and even predict its the former.
Valencia’s name on the team sheet is now greeted with the same disappointment it pains me to say Ryan Giggs’s was earlier this season and it’s not pleasant hearing the groans and moans as he loses the ball and slumps back into his sulking pose.
A loan to a top level side on the continent may just help us get our Tony back and if he could recapture the form that saw him play such a pivotal role in providing Wayne Rooney with so many goals, just imagine what he could do alongside RVP next season?
For an alternative view check out @nathonw post : Does Antonio Valencia Really Deserve This Criticism?
Have I fallen off the sanity cliff yet again or is there actually some credence to my wafflings? Feel free to comment suggest and abuse below: