Date: 22nd February 2013 at 3:26am
Written by:

"i'm staying baby!"

“i’m staying baby!”

Unless you’ve been on the mother of all crack binges or taking part in some form of bio-dome experiment you can’t help but have noticed a certain Crystal Palace winger named Wilfried Zaha is joining United in the Summer having signed last month before being loaned back to the Eagles.

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.

Ashley Young

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?

Antonio Valencia

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:

For more Red conjecture follow me on twitter @RFFH


19 responses to “Zaha In, But Which Of These Three Will Be Out?”

  1. John Tring says:

    Clearly, SAF isn’t into Nani anymore, regardless of what he may have or haven’t said lately. In nay case, Nani is a better player than Young. Valencia is a good squad utility player occasionally delivering good crosses when he doesn’t fall asleep upon reaching the bye-line or edge of box with the ball. So, perhaps Nani would be sold ( SAF keeps his latest buys and sells earlier models, so average-or-below Young stays) and SAF must buy a proper central midfielder like Fellaini or Strootman or Vidal. His bizarre obsession with wingers isn’t helping much.

  2. Okaibe says:

    Young or Vallen.should make way for Zaha if need be.9ani should remain,thanks.

  3. ESE FOSTER says:

    Valencia shld go out frm man united,i dn’t lyk is patan of is playin,nani shld stay ashley young also stay,valencia shld go out.

  4. markdegea says:

    Man, a very good write up. I will personally let valencia go. I don’t think he Is cutting it and will ever do again. Nani Is an outstanding talent and it goes beyond me why val is preferred on the write of midfield especially wih his current form. And I must say that zaha is not coming in to be an automatic starter.

  5. Alan says:

    Young has failed to deliver consistently. We had so much hope after a spectacular performance against Arsenal, but we mostly get ‘laboured’ performances. He puts in a shift though, but really isn’t worth getting excited about. I don’t think he’ll be sold. Neither will Valencia. His ability to play decently at RB is a plus for the team.

    TBH, I think it’s going to be Nani who will move. He blows hot & cold, tends to dwell on the ball, make poor decisions and frustrates his team mates by releasing the ball too late. His talent is for all to see, but his performances are too inconsistent and for every match-winning performance, we get 2 or 3 frustrating, show pony displays. Zaha’s decision making is already better than Nani’s. He might not be as gd as Nani yet, but chances are good he’ll improve drastically at Old trafford.

  6. realist says:

    well said Alan, it is a bit tiresome listening to people who keep going on about how fergie doesnt know what hes doing with regards to who should play and who shouldnt. As you said, Nani is way too inconsisten, the only point you made about him that i did not agree with was the 1 good game and 2/3 bad, i make it 1 or 2 good games at best, and 4,5 or 6 awful ones on the trot when inevitably fergie loses it with him and doesnt start him again for ages!
    Valencia, love him to bits and he was rightly voted player of the year last year by our fans( encouraging to know they are not all thick) however, he is having a complete nightmare so far this season, confidence looks very low for some reason, i actually think hes too nice a guy and needs to be a bit more cocky and arrogant but that clearly isnt going to happen.
    would love to keep all 3 but if one had to go it would be Nani, who by the way, i actually believe to be our “most naturally talented player” above ANYONE in our squad!
    but unfortunately the most inconsistent and annoying, by a long way!

  7. aakash87 says:

    Good article, although I think it should be noted that Young has changed his game quite a bit this season. He’s realised his strengths and weaknesses, and become more of a wide midfielder than a winger. He’ll never skin full-backs like Nani or AV7 have, but he’s done well this season in keeping things neat and tidy, and tracking back. He looks as comfortable as anyone linking-up with his team-mates, and is perhaps the closest we’ve come to replacing Hargreaves, Park and Fletcher (who all played defensive wingers to great effect)

    I too think AV7 will go, especially after Fergie’s comments on Nani. Clearly Fergie is still backing Valencia, but eventually he’ll have to call time if it’s not happening.

  8. giggyjon says:

    If you want to sell your car for the best price, you dont advertise it as a good runner every 4th or 5th day, you tell everyone it is a cracking little car and you can’ t believe you are getting rid of it. Nani is history!

  9. David says:

    4 ME I Think young is nt a class in d united team …he has nt made up to seven strikes to d post dis with no goal also…….too poor,poor Crosses and so with AV7 who is even much better than young in decision making…both have gotten more apperances than nani But nani has abt four goals to his name…d only problem with nani is pulling ball tempo down……better still I think saf Should leave all Inc zaha and at times use Valencia to play d right back…but if anyone should leave I think young….there is nothing young does accurately….he cannot take on defenders and make way 4 himself …he lost form in a huge manner

  10. Alaska says:

    Antonio valencia should give nani way prefer nani than anyone of the two