Antonio Valencia enjoying return to form under Van Gaal

by Sam Peoples

Louis van Gaal seems to be having a positive effect on players who it appeared had reached the end of their Manchester United careers under David Moyes.

Antonio Valencia had been a key player in his first season at Old Trafford back in 2009, regularly laying on assists for the prolific Wayne Rooney and looking well worth the £16m the club handed over to Wigan Athletic for him.

The Ecuadorian came back from a broken ankle in equally good form during the 2011-12 season, winning the club’s Player of the Year award before enduring a frustrating season under Moyes last year.

But Valencia is one of several who looks rejuvenated under Van Gaal this season and never was that more apparent than against Liverpool on Sunday.

Despite regularly playing at full-back or wing-back, Valencia has looked confident in his role even against the likes of Manchester City and showed that extra confidence early on against Liverpool.

Not long after, the 29-year-old showed the kind of wing play that supporters had forgotten he had when he nutmegged Joe Allen before laying on the opening goal for Rooney. Valencia taking on a winger with confidence and beating him is an asset which had seemingly disappeared from his game, clearly not.

Despite his good form, Valencia is yet to score this season but that statistic isn’t too surprising given the position he is playing. Last season, Valencia managed four goals in all competitions despite struggling for overall form when he played higher up the pitch.

Valencia has even found a use for his left foot. it’s become a long-running cruel joke at Old Trafford regarding Valencia’s lack of ability on his left side but his cross-field ball against Hull City seems to show the Ecuador international is gaining more confidence with every game.

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