Valencia was left out of the squad for games against Everton and Sunderland after being described as “really, really tired” by Mourinho following recent international exploits.
He was thrown back into the starting XI for Man United’s first leg 1-1 draw with Anderlecht in the Europa League quarter final and produced another powerful, dedicated performance on the right hand side, supplying a superb cross in the lead-up to Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s opener.
But Mourinho, speaking after the game, noted that the Ecuadorian won’t be able to feature in every game during the latter stages of the campaign.
Mourinho, "Antonio [Valencia] is having some problems and he cannot play every game."
— Chris Winterburn (@cmwinterburn) April 13, 2017
I have joked in the past that Valencia’s machine-like performances were indicative of a man who only knows how to play football, that anything other than bombing up and down the right hand side was alien to him – even expressing emotion.
But Valencia is, in fact, only human, and Mourinho will know that the Ecuadorian has been overworked in recent times: since the start of February he has made 12 appearances; just last month he made three 90 minute stints before flying off the South America to captain his country.
United fans will want to see the 31-year-old – their side’s most consistent performer this season – feature as much as possible, but there is, I’m afraid, only so much the human body can muster.
This will, on the other hand, provide Luke Shaw with further opportunities as Matteo Darmian – who started in the left back role against Anderlecht – moves to the right hand side in Valencia’s absence.