United’s wingers must grab their opportunity
Wide-men have the chance to show they have the wind beneath their wings
So often the creative force down the flanks, Antonio Valencia will be sorely missed during what looks to be a lengthy absence on the sidelines, nursing his horrid ankle injury suffered against Rangers on Tuesday night. His will be a huge void to fill; but it is key, in order for United’s quest for silverware this season to go right, that someone steps up to the plate and fills that void left by the Ecuadorian.
Valencia was United’s catalyst last season, creating chances and, then of course, goals. He also created a formidable partnership with Wayne Rooney, and quite a few of the forward’s 32 goals in the 09/10 campaign came from those trademark skiddy crosses from the right wing. Indeed ‘Tony’, as he is often called nowadays, was undoubtedly United’s better and consistent performers last season although, tragically, it looks unlikely that the second chapter will involve as much success on the pitch, such is the seriousness of this injury, that he certainly will spend the duration on the treatment time.
It is important, for the likes of Park, Gabriel Obertan and even Bebe, that they sense the opportunity of having to play more regularly in Valencia’s absence and grab it with both hands. It also means that Nani has to be at the top of his game this campaign, with the feeling that he now has an extra workload put onto him but, in order to be an established member of the squad, he has to overcome such pressure. Plenty depends on him.
In Park, United have a rather frustratingly brilliant winger. Inconsistency has crept into his game of late, but as so happens when a team lose a key player, he must produce far more regularly. There’s no doubting his talent and Sir Alex will surely rotate between him and Ryan Giggs on the left-hand side. Giggs won’t play every game – another reason why these wingers need to submit their intent on the field in order to become a first team player rather than fringe.As for Obertan and Bebe, well time will only tell. Obertan has looked promising for a while now; he was fantastic for the reserves and in the few senior games he played last year and could be ready to make the step up. Having played at Bordeaux with Laurent Blanc, we must not underrate the player. He was fantastic for the French side although his transfer did come as a surprise to a few. His pace and technical abilities means he should be able to ‘handle’ the English game, as well as being suited to the European style of play.
As for Bebe, the jury is very much out for whatever reason. He’s played very little, so early (and frankly, blind) judgements are harsh – again, we must wait a little while and learn more about him. We never know – it could be a huge season for the Portuguese youngster, and chances may come on a regular basis. Sir Alex has been hit with a monumental blow, and now he must attempt to cope with what he has. Can these wide-men grab their opportunity and show that they do, as a matter of fact, have the winds beneath their wings?