Having just watched his dismal substitute appearance against Chelsea, it finally hit me. Valencia has been poor for Manchester United this season and it got me thinking what the cause of this dramatic dip in form was.
Last season, the Ecuadorian ace was destroying left-backs for fun, yet this season, since being given the No.7 shirt, he seems to have lost his confidence. Is it a case of the weight of the shirt crushing the vibrancy he showed last season?
Not trusted to start on Tuesday against Real Madrid and the same again today against Chelsea makes you wonder whether he still has the trust of the manager. In addition, making only 21 appearances for the club this season without having a major injury shows his role has been reduced.
What is for certain is that there is a remarkable difference between his performances last season and that of this season. Last season, he managed to create 13 goals in all competitions and score a further 6 himself. This season, he has a return of 0 goals and just 4 assists. For a United player, that just isn’t good enough.
At times this season he has looked not just one-dimensional but at times out of his depth. If he cannot take the ball out wide onto his right foot and whip in a cross he looks hopeless. Moreover, he looks lost when asked to cut inside. He still has the same pace and power he had last season yet he seems to have been found out this season. Too many times against Chelsea today and in recent games has he wasted good opportunities or given the ball away in dangerous positions.
With the summer arrival of the promising Wilfried Zaha, many expected him to replace Luis Nani, but as the season draws towards its conclusion, he may end up replacing the struggling Ecuadorian. Only time will tell whether he can recapture his form of last season and save his United career.
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