Manchester United have been linked with both Valencia’s Joaquin and Udinese’s Alexis Sanchez in recent weeks, with the Guardian reporting today that Alex Ferguson is keen to sign one of them in January in order to provide cover for Antonio Valencia.
Now, a couple of things struck me about this story: first of all, by the time a deal is concluded, Valencia will be back in training and within a month of playing anyway, and second, are United really that short of cover on the wings?
When Valencia sustained his horrific injury against Rangers back in September, I like everyone else at Old Trafford could see absolutely nothing wrong; as is always the case with the worst injuries, it looked little more than a fall, completely innocuous. That is of course until the players started waving frantically at the physios and oxygen was administered to the motionless winger.
At first, it looked career-threatening. Then season-ending. Then, before you knew it, United would only have to cope without the Ecuadorian until February. Of course, way back in September and given United’s largely abject performances, it looked like the season was effectively over already, and Ferguson had real cause for concern.
Fast forward three months, and United sit top of the Premiership, are through to the last 16 of the Champions League, and are the only side still unbeaten. So they must have coped somehow.
How? Well, it’s probably due to the fact that they have Nani, Park Ji Sung, Ryan Giggs, Gabriel Obertan and Bebe. Nani, Giggs and Bebe are natural wingers anyway, and Park and Obertan are more than happy playing on either flank. Nani is getting better and better, Park is having his best season to date, Giggs is simply Giggs, and Obertan and Bebe are showing real promise.
Suffice it to say, United have been more than able to cope without Valencia. That’s not to say that the league-leaders are better off without him; when the winger returns, he will add even more attacking threat and will surely be first-choice again.
But they certainly don’t need to spend another £15m on a winger they’ll only need for a few weeks.
So to Fergie, the Guardian, and anyone else, I say: don’t panic. I think United are coping quite well enough.
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