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
He is driving my father nuts. Please help
Michael Owen is another good example of a player who fans always defend and say he hasn’t regained form rather than admit he is useless.
Personally I would give all of our wingers more time.
Nani has it in the locker.
Young and Valencia both work hard.
I try not to be critical of any Utd player. Anybody wearing our badge has to have our support even when out of form. However Tony Valencia has limited ability. Even when he played well last year he used one strategy. He used his pace to get past his man and to the byline. He could then use his excellent right foot to produce dangerous crosses. This year he has been found out. Defences now realise that he won’t use his left foot at all. So if he can’t go down the outside he slows down the attack whilst he shifts the ball onto his good foot and makes a predictable pass back. But there is an answer. Use training sessions to give him the confidence to use both feet. We know this is possible because on the very rare occasions he uses his left he can produce good crosses. Then defences cannot just rely on stopping him sprinting down the touch line.
Here’s a question for you then – do you think Valencia could be coached into playing as a right back?
Good question Nathon and I think he probably could. He may even become more dangerous running from deep.
When Rio eventually goes, I believe Smalling will be used less as a right back and more as a central defender – leaving opportunity for Valencia to be utilised as a right back.
I agree with the Owen comment – but is this down to age?
Torres is in his peak years and he has just lot it. Completely lost it.
I fear both Young and Valencia could go the same way which also begs the question…. where they actually that good to begin with, or did they just have the odd great season?
finding form ,what does this mean,,,you once had form and could beat defenders now its gone,,it is also called selfconfidence …,not to interupt the process of dribling with the thinking about it ,just doing it with flow like they used to do it,,,and step by step if you can improve it you go higher and higher..but it is a psychologicall problem ,cos they are all young under 30 ,so the body is not the problem…i think they have to be encuraged example valencia to do it especially when we are in a lead ,so he can beat his oponent like he used to do it,,and regain his psychological strenght back
Confidence is definitely part of it.
Valencia reminds me of Harry Kewell. At Leeds he was excellent, at Liverpool he couldn’t do a thing.
I agree with you and God bless you for this article – Valencia is just mediocre now, plain and simple. Indeed the left foot issue is a MAJOR one that hinders all of our play on the right wing. I’ve been crying about it over over for this whole campaign.
I say yes, make a right back out of him, train him hard and by all means FORCE him to work on his left foot. Then we’ll get an awesome right-back cos let’s face it, Rafael could do a better job in the attacking position at this point.
why play a right winger at right back when he was player of the year and got goal of the season in right wing? We all ready have Rafael so there is no good reason to make that switch.
The thing about Valencia is he never looks disinterested and always works his socks off. This alone means we shouldn’t turn our back on him yet.
Hard work is key.