Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughWhat Has Happened To Antonia Valencia? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough What Has Happened To Antonia Valencia? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

What Has Happened To Antonia Valencia?

Third season syndrome? Too much pressure? Fear?

Whatever you want to call it an alarming feature of United’s season this season is the disappearance of Antonia Valencia’s form. Manchester United signed the Ecuadorian for a reported fee of £18 million pounds from Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2009.

Wanting a high profile player to replace such as Cristiano Ronaldo , who is arguably the best player in the world , fans met this signing with doubt and frustration. Frank Ribery was at the time the man to be chosen as the Portuguese stars replacement.

Since then Valencia extinguished every doubt people may have had. He was a key figure in the 2009-10 season setting up a majority of the 34 goals scored by Wayne Rooney. Rooney even said the following about Valencia:

I couldn’t have scored the amount of goals I have this season without him. He’s been great this year and the quality of balls he puts in the box for me has been unbelievable.

He had an amazing first season making 47 appearances in total and grabbing 7 goals and a bagful of assists along the way. His second season was cut short in September fracturing and dislocating his left ankle in the 0-0 Champions League game against Rangers. He returned in March and dislodged Nani in the right midfield slot. Valencia gave Ashley Cole, repeatedly dubbed ‘the best left back in the world’, a horrid time at Old Trafford as he helped United to a 2-1 win to clinch the title.

There was no question that Valencia was back.

Playing for Ecuador in the Copa America in summer 2011 Valencia picked up an injury. An injury to his left ankle. The very ankle he had seriously injured months earlier.

He finally returned for the away trip to Benfica and then made his Premier League return at Chelsea at right back. He played respective games against Norwich, Stoke and Leeds there.  He then switched to his preferred right midfield slot against Aldershot and Galati scoring in both games but not the Valencia we know nonetheless.

Questions are being asked now of the Ecuadorian after less than impressive games this season.

Valencia’s main attribute is taking on the full back and crossing dangerous balls into the move. He did the simple things so well. Now he seems a shadow of that. He seems afraid to take the full back on. He doesn’t seem confident in himself to beat his man.

Could it be fear that has caused this? He sustained two injuries to his left ankle and may be afraid of what a third might do.

Valencia’s injury and Nani’s blistering form has meant he has had to spend time on the bench or had to play right back. This has also contributed to his problems.

What Valencia needs is a good run of games to get back to his former self. It seems that will be hard to come by with Nani and Ashley Young commanding the left and right flanks.

Valencia’s other parts of the game seem to be lacking also. His link up play is lacking, his crossing has been very below par. For a half an hour against Crystal Palace in the Carling Cup he showed tiny glimpses of this but still not near the Valencia we know.

It is clear that if Valencia does not start to show glimpses of the form of last season he will be spending his majority of time on the bench playing second fiddle to Nani.

With a tough schedule over the Christmas period the squad will be used in full flow and Valencia will get games but if he wants a consistent run in the team he needs to make big strides from the current level of performances he’s showing.

Darren Hickey @DHick92

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