It’s not very often that fans have unequivocal faith in their manager, regardless of any decision that’s made. Over the last 24 years, United fans have learned that the brilliance of Sir Alex Ferguson can become apparent at the most unlikely of times. Therefore, we know that if our fearless leader makes a decision, there is a wisdom behind it that we might not be able to see right away. So, in a year where we lost two very important strikers in Ronaldo and Tevez, many fans, including myself, were wondering where we’d find some replacement firepower. One of the results was having several new wingers in our camp. Our fans noticed that we didn’t replace those players with out-and-out strikers. We’d have to make do with what we have, so let us sort through the raw talent on the wing and figure out what to make of it all.
First up is Nani. Not a new winger, but essential to mention nonetheless. He came to the club in 2007 from Sporting Lisbon and has had bursts of brilliance accompanied with what seemed like the ability to be consistently inconsistent. After three seasons and the departure of Ronaldo, someone who he was always unfairly compared to, Nani has started to become more consistent and deliver strong performances for our club. Having only been here 3 years, he’s got some seniority as a winger with all the new talent we’ve brought in. His pace and ingenuity have created some brilliance, like in his performance against Arsenal last season. He has the ability to make something out of nothing and his blistering pace can force the defense to give him more room than they’d otherwise concede. He can score with both feet, versatility that allows him to play on each flank. Now, I still find it odd that he can’t clear the first player on a corner or that he consistently boots the ball into the 30th row on free kicks, but he is still developing. He is our most pivotal winger, and with a new contract until 2014, he’ll be able to correct his inconsistencies and turn into a consistently great player for our club.
Next up is Antonio Valencia. Although currently recovering from a brutal injury, he was an essential player for us in his debut season last year. He has the lightening speed to beat a player to the end-line and deliver a cross – something he did in abundance last campaign. He lacks the flash and panache that Nani has, but then again, his game is perfectly suited, so he doesn’t need it. He and Nani have the ability to give us the speed and creativity on the wing that we crave. My only knock would be that he seems hesitant to take the ball inside at times, content with hitting it by a defender to cross with his right foot. With that said, he’s a fundamental player that our club needs back very badly. Reports circulated this week that he could possibly return to action 3 months earlier than expected – news that had fans giddy with wishful optimism.
Soon after Valencia joined United, Gabriel Obertan became our next winger. Some grumblings revolved around the fact we replaced the deficit created by the departure of Ronaldo and Tevez with wingers, not true forwards. Then, in August of this year, we paid 7.4 million pounds for little known, Bebe, a winger from the 2nd division of Portuguese football. Questions were being asked and people started pointing at the Glazers’ denial of access to the money received from the Ronaldo transfer. And in recent news, Rooney made mention of the lack of ambition on the Glazers’ part to give him some ammunition up front. For me, Sir Alex was doing the best he could with the limited resources he was given. With that said, we have to find a place for these types of players.
Obertan is good on the ball and has pace, but needs to hone his craft of delivery and finishing. His footwork can be effective, but at times it can also be too much. Some of his reserve goals were fantastic, and he made contributions in the Champions League match against Bursaspor, so hopefully that can translate to consistent first team football. After watching Bebe this past week against Wolves, it’s pretty apparent he’s not ready for first team action. Some time with the reserves or a loan might be the answer he needs to mold him into a formidable player for United.
Right now, we’re still figuring out how and when to play these players, but eventually SAF will figure out where they fit best, or if they don’t fit at all. I feel like Valencia and Nani are our formidable talents and key to our continued success. Figuring out where Obertan and Bebe fit will be a little bit more difficult, but I have faith in our manager to work it all out for the benefit of our club, cause that’s what he does best.
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