Antonio Valencia admits his standards have slipped

by Tom Parker

As a Manchester United fan, it is impossible to have too many complaints at this stage of the season with United in a domineering position at the top of the Premier League, still in the F.A Cup and downright unlucky to be knocked out of the Champions League.

But while this has been a vintage season for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men, it hasn’t been for the wingers.

Ashley Young and Luis Nani have been blighted by both injury and inconsistent form but perhaps the most disappointing of all has been the consistently below-par performances of Antonio Valencia, who was named United’s player of the season last campaign.

This year has seen anything but the match-winning, rampaging performances we all witnessed in last season’s title run-in and it is something the Ecuadorian is keen to address after a disappointing six months, which he blames on a long-standing injury.

“It’s not been quite the season I would have hoped for on a personal front,” said Valencia.

“I think the injuries I’ve had have held me back a bit. I still get the odd twinge from the last injury I had to my leg and that has perhaps affected my progress slightly.”

The 27-year-old winger has slipped down the pecking order in recent weeks and it has appeared that Sir Alex Ferguson has finally lost patience with the player, who is yet to score a goal this season despite making thirty appearances, but Valencia hopes to force his way back into favour.

“I hope to get the chance to be involved in as many games as possible.

“If I’m picked I’m determined to grab my opportunities and do my best for my team-mates, the manager and the fans.”

Changes are likely to be afoot in the summer transfer window, with United linked to a number of wingers, and with Wilfried Zaha already signed and sealed for next season, one of United’s wide players look set to leave. Ferguson has an endearing habit of sticking by his players (Fletcher, Hargreaves), Valencia’s career appears to be in free-fall, and he has looked almost one-dimensional, lacking confidence and even his frenetic sprinting power appears to have deserted him.

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