Date: 14th March 2013 at 5:18pm
Written by:

Ronnie who?Without wanting to sound like our friend Mr Benitez; every footballer has a dip in form at one point or another. Fact.

Question: What are the makings of a bad footballer?

Poor control, slow of the mark, lack of agility, cannot shoot, cannot find intended target with a pass, never winning a tackle, not being able to beat a man, cannot cross, poor positional sense…. this list is endless but you get the gist.

Summer 2010 – England draw 0-0 with Algeria and are booed off the field by their own fans.

Poor Wayne Rooney was the main target of pundit disgust tabloid insults as it was him alone who should have carried the side to World Cup glory.Not too much pressure then, Wayne.

On that day, Rooney demonstrated all of the above traits – so is he a bad footballer? No, he was just in the worst form of his life.

Question: Same again: What are the makings of a bad footballer?

All of the things listed above but over a long period of time.

How long? One week? One month? Six months? Surely nobody spends a whole season out of form.

Ryan Giggs, having recently played his 1000th competitive football match in a pulsating Champions League clash against Real Madrid is arguably the best player to ever grace the English game.

Giggs’ list of honours include 12 premier league titles, four FA cups, four league cups, two Champions Leagues, one super cup, one intercontinental cup, one club world cup, eight community shields and dozens of individual awards – yet there were moments in his career when he wasn’t good enough to get into the United side and many argued the case for United to cash in on the Welshman.

Having burst on to the scene as a wonder kid, Giggs struggled with injuries which lead to inconsistent form in the mid 90’s and early 00’s.

Had Sir Alex turned his back on this current United legend, would it have been the worst managerial decision of all time?

Having only been treated to glimpses of genius for long periods of time, Ferguson gave Giggs season after season to find consistent, top drawer performances – and now reaps the rewards of the loyalty, belief and perseverance in his player.

Bad form – never a bad footballer.

At the opposite end of the belief scale, former United centre half Jaap Stam was sold in the summer of 2001 because he looked at though he had lost half a yard of pace.

Twelve years on and my feelings on this (like many others) have not changed.

It was a horrific call by Sir Alex who admits he was too quick to make a judgement on the Dutch defender. Stam continued to play at the highest level for the next six years.

Fernando Torres – a player United were linked within in his time at Atletico Madrid was once upon a time the most feared striker in Europe.

Blistering pace and a deadly finish; Torres pushed Liverpool to their highest ever Premier League finish in the 2008/09 season. At one stage Liverpool looked odds on to win the title but failed at the last hurdle. It has been a downward spiral ever since for the Merseysiders.

Torres then found himself in a multi million pound move to Chelsea when the Russian millionaire owner felt the Spaniards goals could propel his club to new heights.

This did not quite work out to plan as two and a half seasons later; Torres only has 14 goals in almost 80 appearances.

If I was to stand in front of an audience and tell you Fernando Torres is just lacking in form, I would get eggs thrown at me. It has been two and a half years of being simply awful.

Surely the blonde prince isn’t a bad player though. Look how good he once was?

Bad form? Not a chance. He is dreadful, but he wasn’t always dreadful. At what point did it change?

Question: At what point does a footballer go from being in bad form to being a bad footballer, full stop?

The current United squad is full of not only exceptionally talented players; but players who work hard for the team – yet there are niggling doubts over more than one or two of the current crop and the debate certainly rages on in regards to our wingers Young, Valencia and Nani.

Ashley Young seems to have the fans on his side which is always a good sign. Blighted by injury this term, he is finding his feet at a very slow rate. Having been in electric form when he first joined the club, time is on his side and he has been given the benefit of the doubt by most fans and staff.

Luis Nani is unquestionable the most naturally skilful footballer at Old Trafford – but he is also the most infuriating. One minute he can beat three players and unleash a world class strike into the top corner. The next he cannot hold on to the ball and looks disinterested. Nani will never be a bad player, but his fluctuating form and questionable attitude are both regularly the topic of conversation. Should Nani be sold?

Antonio Valencia. Player of the year in 2012; many expected great things from the new number 7 in 2013, but in all honesty, the Ecuadorian has not delivered. Valencia has not even looked close to delivering. He no longer beats his man, his crosses rarely find a target and he hasn’t scored a goal for a year. It has been like this since day one of the current campaign. Is this bad form or do we expect to much due to the dizzy heights he reached last year?

Are any of these players close to being acknowledged as a bad footballer or is it ludicrous to make this call? 

How long does bad form really last?

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

For all United news and banter follow: @RFFH