Manchester United fans have been having a glorious time with a successful transfer window (so far). Zlatan Ibrahimović has had an immediate impact with two goals from two games, Bailly has received two ‘Man of the Match’ awards in a row and Pogba has a fairly impressive start against Southampton as well. Behind all this glory has been a player silently doing what is expected of him! A player we have loved for his determination and gritty nature, a player who has failed to surprise us since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement has been doing an immense job at right back because never giving up is what this player does best.
The Man United winger, or should we say right-back, Antonio Valencia has shown some sensational signs of being a key player for Jose and United this season. The 2011-12 United player of the year shall hope to be the silent guardian along with the heralded few.
The Ecuadorian who turned 31 recently now has the respect of a senior pro and has been with the club through its thick and thin. Furthermore, he has come back strong and fought his way into the lineup to replace Darmian who was supposed to seal that spot. The versatile midfielder of the right flank has traits that the Italian doesn’t.
While Valencia provides balance in attack with pace he also has enough to track back, despite being caught off guard. While in defence he ensures that he guards that box much better than several other full backs, not to mention some skilful last minute ‘in-the-box’ tackles that only a few dare to try. This is the kind of player Mourinho thrives on and will ensure plays a lot of games this season.
The style of play Mourinho plays also helps Valencia. The experience, pace and determination all put him in Mourinho’s good books not to mention the overlapping wing play Mourinho adapts helps the winger have his share of fun by delivering some good crosses into the box. The limited crossing opportunities he had under Louis Van Gaal made the few crosses that he made look horrendous. However, with the direct approach Mourinho prefers (so do the fans) Valencia has been splendid from the little games we have seen.
One can only stare in amazement and disbelief when Antonio Valencia gets three assists, furthermore, from a defensive position. It still seems amazing that at such a late stage, Valencia has found his crossing boots again. Better late than never, I suppose.
It’s about time the Ecuadorian started proving his disbelievers wrong. He never had any haters but his performances when he isn’t in form are horrific, to say the least. The limited approach he had to use is no longer in the picture and Mourinho will bring the best out of him this season, for the benefit of both the player and the club.