Antonio Valencia has been named as Manchester United’s ‘Player of the Month’ for March following commanding performances against Chelsea, FC Rostov and Middlesbrough.
The Ecuadorian has benefitted from Jose Mourinho’s decision to deploy a three-at-the-back set-up in recent weeks, producing a series of domineering displays down the right flank.
He claimed his first goal of the season during Man United’s 3-1 win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside, chasing down a lost cause and capitalising on a Victor Valdes blunder.
The 31-year-old, in turn, has been handed a ‘Player of the Month’ award for his endeavours under Mourinho.
Our machine. 🤖
Our warrior. 💪
And now, our #MUFC Player of the Month for March! 🏆
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 31, 2017
— Antonio Valencia (@anto_v25) March 31, 2017
It is somewhat refreshing to see United fans, perhaps for the first time in the post-Fergie era, point towards the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan when it comes to identifying key players this season. These are individuals that, above all, espouse a mindset in keeping with the club’s overall emphasis on direct, dynamic attacking football.
And Valencia, in spite of featuring in a defensive role this season, deserves to be located in the same category. The Ecuadorian has committed everything to the cause since the opening day of the campaign, bombing up and down the flank with reckless abandon, and Mourinho will know the importance of keeping the 31-year-old fit ahead of a chaotic April schedule.