Antonio Valencia has long been in the shadows at Manchester United since injuries seemingly robbed him of his confidence but a wonderful performance against Galatasaray could be the start of a new beginning for him.
Jose Mourinho loves powerful, dynamic defenders and Valencia does have a few traits which tick the box for a Jose type player. Out of the five goals against Galatasaray, Tony laid on three of them and it’s the best I’ve seen him play in a long time. Sure, the opposition was weak and it’s pre-season but it’s not very often we ever get to see Valencia looking up before he crosses, let alone for it to be a pin-point delivery.
It presents an opportunity for Valencia this season. As much as I don’t like him as a right-back, Mourinho doesn’t have somebody who is guaranteed to start right-back in the same way as Luke Shaw does on the other flank. Matteo Darmian, Valencia and Timothy Fosu-Mensah will have to compete for that spot.
Valencia’s so much better suited as a winger rather than a full-back because his defensive positioning is pretty woeful. Lucky for him, more often than not he’s got the pace to recover from his mistakes but he’ll remain a real liability at right-back until he becomes more intelligent in the role and Mourinho will not risk playing him there until he’s confident he understands the position properly.
I wasn’t sure I’d ever see Valencia playing again like he did in 2010 but that performance against Galatasaray gave me a little of hope I didn’t have before. Maybe it’s premature but if he can build on that game, improve himself and play smarter, maybe we’ll see Valencia at right-back a bit more this season and not put our heads in our hands.