Antonio Valencia gave a characteristically solid performance during Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Stoke City in the Premier League.
The Ecuadorian, back in the starting XI after being rested in the week, was a constant source of power and assurance on the right hand side, offering attacking impetus and defensive solidly in equal measure.
A look at his stats shed light on what was a composed performance: 83% passing, 3 chances created, 7 crosses, 4 take ons, 6 successful tackles, 3 interceptions, 2 clearances.
Of the 11 players fielded by Jose Mourinho every week, Valencia receives the least attention. He is Man United’s silent gladiator, turning up every week with the same dedicated attitude, making no fuss and focusing purely on the job at hand.
Such an approach was a hallmark of the Sir Alex Ferguson era, but has quickly dissipated at Old Trafford in recent years (along with, I might add, other top clubs – a symptom of football’s troubling metamorphosis into a glamour contest). Seeing Valencia uphold the same stellar, no-nonsense attitude after three years of dramatic change is a welcome sight.
In a season bound to entail dizzy heights and sullen lows, the 31-year-old promises to function as a necessary constant for Mourinho, supplying strength and discipline down the right hand side.