7 Feb 2012

Valencia Is United's Unsung Hero

In the summer of 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo departed Old Trafford for a switch to his boyhood team Real Madrid in a world record £80million transfer. The media and many supporters viewed the signing of Antonio Valencia from Wigan Athletic that same summer, as the legendary Portuguese's replacement. Many footballers would have woken in the middle of the night in a cold sweat at the thought of trying to replace a player who left for pastures new, as arguably the best player ever to play for the club, but Antonio Valencia has gone about his job silently and very effectively. 

Valencia's first task when he joined United, was to quickly talk down any kind of comparisons with Ronaldo, he was quick to point out they were actually two very different kind of players with individual personalities. It was an intelligent piece of public relations work by Valencia, he instantly distanced himself from being touted as "The New Ronaldo", a tag that the Ecuadorian would have been embarrassed about and could have possibly effected his game physiologically.

What we have seen from Valencia in the years since Ronaldo has departed, is a total breath of fresh air, a winger who is not afraid to attack, but is equally conscious of conceding possession needlessly. His work rate, strength and versatility have made him unplayable in a system that compliments the attributes that he offers the team. His decision making, range of passing and final ball have contributed to much of United's success this season, particularly the start of this year, he has even added the odd goal here and there to his game.

There will never be another Ronaldo, he was a one off and an absolute joy to watch, we have great memories of the Portuguese genius that we can look back fondly upon. Antonio Valencia had the daunting task of trying to replace the position Ronaldo had vacated and had so much success in, I personally believe he has been a triumph and a success as he continues to improve every season, he is currently the unsung hero at Old Trafford.