Antonio Valencia has returned to form in recent weeks for Manchester United after a long period of indifferent performances.
In the past two years, the 28-year-old had been a shadow of the 2011/12 Valencia that tore defences apart in the Premier League but he has found his way back to form. Although his crosses are still not back to their best, his confidence to take on a defender with pace and power has returned.
At the start of the season, Valencia gave up the No. 7 shirt which led to many saying he couldn’t handle the burden of that number at United. He previously explained his reasons behind giving up the No. 7 shirt and now in an interview with United Review, he has insisted that the decision to give up the shirt was not driven by an inability to cope with any added pressure it brings.
“There is no negative reason as to why I changed it,” he said.
“I don’t want people to think that I wasn’t doing my job for the team because of any added pressure of wearing the No. 7 shirt.
“It was more to do with the fact that 25 was the number I had when I first came to the club and I played well wearing that number. So I thought ‘why don’t I go back to 25?’ because I had good times and good fortune in that shirt.”
Valencia has become a regular starter on the right wing under Moyes and now that he started to rekindle his partnership with Rafael on the right wing, United are looking far more dangerous down the right hand side than we have done in a long time.
For a while, it didn’t look like Valencia was ever going to be able to recapture his best form but the signs are definitely there this season that he will make a full return after what was a disappointing last year with the club.
He continued: ”I suppose the previous season to that [2011/12] I’d set the bar quite high with my performances, which was something that was a little unexpected but I was very happy about.
“Last season I had a niggling problem with my back, which didn’t allow me to train properly, whereas there is no sign of that now. I feel great, and have been able to train to my maximum and put in 100 per cent. That has been paying dividends in the games.”
Back at his best, pretty much every Valencia cross found the head of Rooney and United need that threat to return from crosses. Wing play has always been the foundation of our attacks and Moyes’ preference to get the full backs overlapping indicates that isn’t going to change, so hopefully Valencia can continue this upward curve and make himself indomitable in the league once again.