Let’s be clear there were NO bright aspects from the Leeds game, we were horrible and duly suffered the indignation of being stuffed on our home patch by our fierce rivals that play football two levels below us. We didn’t look at the races and it could have been more than one so we can count ourselves luck but that being said, amongst the poor performances one player did actually acquit himself.
When a player is involved in a game for 33 minutes and is clearly the best player, a person would be right in assuming that the player came off the bench and won you the game or at least played a role but this wasn’t the case with Antonio Valencia, rather the winger came on and simply tried, which is more than can be said for quite a few of the players that wore red on Sunday.
Alex Ferguson himself stated,
“Only Valencia can say he had a fair performance when we got the ball to him – but it took us about 10 minutes to do that.”
and looking back he probably should have started. Valencia made a real impact running at Leeds’ defence and in his cameo looked our most dangerous player.
Yet this performance was just a continuation of his destruction of Wigan days earlier.
Valencia tore into Maynor Figueroa highlighting how much he has grown in confidence and the end result of this was three goals as Rooney, Berbatov and Carrick benefited from his work and to top it off, he got onto the score sheet himself with the 5th and final goal of the night.
In recent months Valencia has grown into his role as a United player whereas at the start of the season he looked like he was struggling with the pressure, especially having been named as Ronaldo’s replacement.
But despite all the talk of Valencia not being anywhere near Ronaldo’s class, if you compare the two, it is hard not to be impressed.
Last season after 26 games Ronaldo had 10 goals and 2 assists whereas after 26 games this season Valencia had 6 goals and 5 assists all from right wing where as Ronaldo often came off the wing and even played centrally.
It is a testament to Valencia’s development that only Patrice Evra has started more games than him and this faith from Fergie has inspired confidence in the Ecuadorian.
When he was initially signed, Valencia was called a poor replacement for Ronaldo and even ‘Ronaldo Lite’, replacing Ronaldo is probably as hard a job as whoever tries there hand at replacing Fergie but so far he has done his level best to ensure the Portuguese star isn’t missed and if he can continue to grow as a United player, Valencia will etch out his place in United history beyond being known as ‘the guy drafted in to fill in for Ronaldo’.
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