Zaha’s imminent arrival means that United’s current wide men have more than a little reason to feel unsure about their Old Trafford futures, an uncertainty that can’t be helped by the fact that neither Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia or the much-maligned Nani have exactly been shining examples of consistency. I suppose we could also question Ryan Giggs’s job security but that would be quite frankly bonkers and akin to wondering whether Sir Alex Ferguson needs to win a few more games to keep his position safe. Giggs may be a winger more often than a central midfielder these days but let;s not enter silly season by wondering if he won’t be offered at least one more year.
So if Giggs has little to worry about, what about his team mates, do these three have anything to fear with Zaha on his way in, are they on their way out?
Of all the wingers seemingly destined for the Old Trafford exit door, the former Sporting Lisbon man may be the obvious choice, but he’s not gone yet and has recently been offered a glimmer of hope by Sir Alex who noted:
“Nani is definitely one of the best match-winners in Europe. He scores incredible goals. He has an incredible talent for winning matches. We would like him to stay.”
“David [Gill] has been speaking to his agent for quite a few weeks now,” Ferguson said. “It’s up to the boy himself.
“He has a year-and-a-half left and we’d prefer to keep him. He wants guaranteed first-team football and will get it if he plays like he did [against Reading].”
That performance against Reading that Sir Alex referred to may seem like too little too late for many fans, but let’s ask ourselves a simple question, has Antonio Valencia produced 45 minutes as good as that this season? Or Ashley Young for that matter. Nani may be the most frustrating winger on the planet but he’s also one of the most talented- on his day- and that may be enough to keep him at Old Trafford past the Summer, providing he wants to stay of course.
At the beginning of the season – in between berating Nani- many Reds were calling for Young’s head claiming he still hadn’t gone anywhere near to proving his worth at Old Trafford. Then came a stellar showing against Manchester City- which should have featured a match ending goal and all was forgiven. Sort of. Young’s not done a lot since that game at the Etihad, other than shown signs of his capabilities and is far from assured his place in the side when Sir Alex picks his strongest eleven- not that anyone other than Carrick, the full backs and R & R are anymore. With Young there’s still the little niggling feeling that he’s not quite ‘there’ as a United player that for every 8-2 performance there’s 6 or 7 anonymous ones that we have to endure.
Personally I’m a Young fan but although he only joined United last season for a fairly hefty fee and at 27 isn’t going to fetch more than the Reds paid for him, I just wonder whether his future is as secure as many think. He may have signed a five year deal when he joined, but if he’s told it’s not working out and an offer’s been accepted, would he refuse to leave?
What?! Our ‘iconic number 7’ he can’t leave United, he’s our most potent attacking force on the wing, well he used to be. Tony V has done sod all for that long now I’m actually beginning to wonder whether he ever will again. Yes he was one of our best players last season but so was Paul Scholes and I don’t expect him to be tearing up trees for United next season either. The fact is Valencia has gone from a 1994 Andrei Kanchelskis to a 1997 Karel Poborksy in a matter of months, in fact forgive me for saying it but even Poborsky went past his man now and again, an idea seemingly alien to our Ecuadorian. On the rare occasions Valencia does venture past the left back he seldom produces a cross good enough to lead to anything other than a loss of possession.
There are exceptions of course and Valencia has bagged four assists this season, but then again he has played a lot of games, 19 in the league, more than any of the other wide men, which in itself gives you the impression Sir Alex still believes in him, as do many United fans.
Could Tony V be the one to make way for Zaha, a few months ago the idea would have seemed inconceivable, yet if his current downward trajectory continues you have to wonder whether a move may be best for both club and player.
There is a fourth option of course, all three wingers plus Zaha remain at United, rotating frequently although with the likes of Shinji Kagawa and even Danny Welbeck offering the Reds different options than just out-and-out wide men you have to wonder whether there really is room for four wingers at Old Trafford.
Although the obvious money was on Nani leaving -at least up until recently- you have to wonder whether the right footed Zaha can really operate on both flanks the same way the Portuguese man can, if not, it could be Valencia who makes way, especially if his form continues to spiral downwards. Ashley Young is certainly capable of playing on either side or just off the striker- as Zaha is- although unlike Nani and Valencia, he’s yet to experience a truly successful season.
If push came to shove I’d say it’s either Young or Valencia that could make way and the divisive Nani who may just be the safest winger at Old Trafford.
Am I completely bonkers? Is Nani off in the Summer while Young, Zaha and Tony V form United’s very answer to JLS? Feel free to comment, suggest and abuse below:
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