Antonio Valencia has been under heavy pressure this season, he’s not played anywhere near his best and good performances have been mixed in with predominantly poor ones.
However, he remains a very safe winger for United in the respect that the defensive side to his game is very good and he will always embody the classic elements of the game such as hard work and a good spirit.
There has been a little bit of talk that youngster Wilfried Zaha could take his place in the side, as he links up with United this summer following a £12 million move from Crystal Palace.
What should make Valencia feel confident about his future is the fact that Zaha has admitted that he is going to feel starstruck playing for United and that he feels he’s got a lot of work to do to prove himself.
Some United fans may have been expecting Zaha to go straight into the side because of his domestic form since he was loaned back to Palace following his move earlier in the season.
He’s certainly a very exciting player and the sort of wide man who is able to quickly take a game away from the opposition with his skill and pace.
However, he does not have the same reliability and safety that Valencia offers the current United side, regardless of the fact he’s not had a very consistent season.
Look at the pressure and expectation that comes along with representing United, put that alongside Zaha’s comments and it’s easy to see how he could be prone to a few errors early in his United career.
Last season showed that the race for big trophies can come down to very fine margins and even a single goal, so United have to measure his quality against the chance he could make mistakes very carefully.
Valencia is making all of the right noises following his disappointing season and has even voiced his intent to finish his career at Old Trafford.
He has had a bad season but he’s determined to work hard on his weaknesses over the coming weeks and months to ensure that he starts next season as a better winger for the club, reinventing himself to make it more difficult for the opposition.
Zaha’s admission that he’s already feeling a little intimidated by a move to United is something that Sir Alex Ferguson will already be aware of and would have predicted.
However, it’s confirmation that Valencia still has an important role to play in terms of his performances and the responsibility that he shows every time he plays for the club.
As a senior winger, United will need a big step up in his game from Valencia, who will want to show the young starlet Zaha how it is done.
How much do you expect Zaha to feature next season?
image: © Magnus D