There have been a select few high-profile players have acted uncharacteristically this past season.
Normally players who have grown accustomed to praise and plaudits from the media have had to endure scathing attacks for their poor performances and lack of form.
What is certain is that these players have to recover from the season just passed and show in the new season that they are still invaluable members of their squad.
If not, questions could be asked and the exit door might loom ever closer.
Let’s have a look at four players who must improve next season.
1. Antonio Valencia | Manchester United
Antonio Valencia’s performances for Manchester United this season have been lethargic, uninspiring and saddening considering the ability that the winger does possess.
Voted Manchester United’s Player of the Season in the previous campaign, he was applauded for his great strength and drive with the ball in addition to his accurate crossing ability. This season he has looked fearful going forward, executed awful delivery of the ball and been anonymous through many of United’s games.
Reasons: Valencia had been recovering from a succession of hip and ankle injuries which may have lowered his confidence and taken the off from his game that he is definitely capable off.
United will hope next season Valencia will enjoy a good pre-season, regain his confidence and show what he has to offer consistently next season.
2. Samir Nasri | Manchester City
Samir Nasri has had been the very epitome of inconsistency this season: great in one instant, unbelievably poor the next.
Known for his darting runs, great dribbling skills and goalscoring ability on his best days; on his worst he is lethargic, uninspiring and displays poor technical skills.
This Jekyll and Hyde quality is something City will know they need to address. Nasri has an array of skills and abilities but he has to find a way to unleash them on a consistent basis.
Reasons: Perhaps the very nature of Nasri’s footballing world is to have hot and cold days. Or maybe like Valencia he suffers from a lack of belief and confidence in his abilities.
With a new manager taking the City hot-seat maybe he will be able to form a good understanding and relationship with Nasri and motivate and inspire him to perform to the best of his ability consistently.
3. Thomas Vermaelen | Arsenal
At the start of the season Thomas Vermaelan was awarded the captain's armband at Arsenal. This showed a display of faith and confidence in the Belgian’s abilities.
However, he has had a very poor season. At the back he has been exposed countless times due to his poor positional sense and runs going forward. In addition this this he has been weak-willed at the back and not shown the kind of dominance and aggression that a centre-back needs let alone a captain.
What is worrying for him is that Per Mertesacker and Lourent Koscielny were eventually partnered permanently at the heart of the defence, leaving Vermaelen in the cold. He has a lot of work to do for next season.
Reasons: It is hard to pin-point a reason why his form has been so poor. He has always been known for his runs forward and mediocre positional play which obviously runs real risks. But he has also been dominant in aerial battles and led the line in previous seasons.
Perhaps the responsibility of being captain got too much in addition to the fact that Arsenal has not been able to deploy a natural defensive midfielder all season. This makes the defence more vulnerable. Maybe if the armband his rescinded and Abou Diaby returns to play the anchor role at Arsenal his confidence will improve and so will his form.
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