United’s Wide Men In Poor Form


By Andy Field.

Another successful season for United seems close… It looks like we are going to win our 20th league title (*touches every possible wooden item within reach*) and the league has to be the main priority at the start of each season. It is the barometer of who is the best team in the country & leads to a lot of bragging rights for all of us at work & in the pub etc. Champions League and, to a much lesser extent the FA Cup, are great to win but the league season is the bread and butter, the reason why we buy our season tickets.

But there is something which is really bothering me about United. I think it’s fair to say our wingers have been poor this season, and I think I’m being kind with that description. There is something severely lacking from their play. The performances of Ashley Young, Tony V & Nani have been the one major disappointment of our season.

Ashley Young is frustratingly inconsistent and I can’t be the only one who wants to throttle him when an over aggressive wind dares to blow near him and sends him falling over!! He also seems to be quite easily readable for a lot of defenders, always seeming to want to cut back on to that right foot when there is a huge gap for him to get it onto his left & whip it in.

Nani, to me, seems like a player who doesn’t really want to be at the club anymore. He is a mere shadow of the player of 18 months ago, and if it was just his form then I could possibly accept it. But his whole body language to me suggests something is drastically wrong between him and the manager/club. The fact that he seemingly tried to manufacturer a move away to a rich Russian club would seem to back this up. He strikes me as a player who very much believed the hype when he was playing at his peak 2 years ago, almost instigating a “we won’t miss Ronaldo too much cos I’m just as good if not better” mentality. That has well and truly fallen away since then. How he seems to still be allocated to taking free kicks and corners for us when I’m sure 85% of them hit the first defender is just well beyond my judgement!!

Then there is Valencia…. Ohhhhhh Tony. He needs to get himself to the doctor as he clearly has Torres-syndrome (forgotten how to play football). If I’m not mistaken didn’t he receive the Fans Player of the Year award last season? What has happened to him? He looks nervous, seems to have lost a yard or two of pace, cannot beat a defender if his life depends on it & his distribution is just awful. His one main flaw is that he is so predominantly right footed, perhaps his opponents have realised this and are exposing his weaknesses. He seems to be getting doubled up against, forcing him inside where he is clearly not comfortable. I don’t feel like he uses Rafael to the extent he should do either.

I know there are going to be people reading this who will be saying “Some United fans are never happy, we are going to win the league & this bloke is slagging off our players”. Well, forgive me for wanting to see United improve. United have accomplished what we have done in the last 20 years through not resting on our laurels and always striving to improve in areas where there are weaknesses. I would be amazed if ALL three of the players mentioned above are still at Old Trafford next season, and clearly Fergie realises there is an issue or he wouldn’t have signed Zaha for next season.

I’m not usually one for statistics but I do have a few for you… Tony V, Nani & Young have started 50 league games between them this season. They have ONE goal amongst them in those games. Let me just reiterate that for you, 3 attacking wingers have scored a joint combination of 1 goal in 50 starts (there are sub appearances on top of that). They also have 13 assists between them. I had to double and triple check these facts as I didn’t believe them first time round, but they are correct. One goal and only 13 assists from 3 attacking wingers, I’ve written it three times in this paragraph and it still makes difficult reading!! If I tell you that Rafael & Evra have a joint combination of 7 goals and 11 assists in the league then I think that puts it into perspective.

To take it a step further, Eden Hazard has 8 goals and 13 assists in 28 starts, and Juan Mata has 10 goals and 13 assists in 27 starts. Now you really do start to see the problem. Wow, if our wingers had of hit anywhere near the form that the rest of the team have then we could have absolutely destroyed this league (more so than we have). Whole season with no losses? Whole season of 38 WINS!! Now that would have been impressive, and achievable in my mind. Let’s be honest here, have we won the league from being unstoppable, playing a brand of football that nobody else could live with? I think all but the most blinkered Reds would say NO. We have been difficult to beat, resolute & (again) never know when we are beaten. Obviously there have been some real touches of class in there too & some of our players have been immense this season (Carrick, Rafael, De Gea, and Evans). But if we had reached our collective potential as a team then this season could have been a record breaking season for us.

To summarise, this isn’t a kicking session (although it may seem like one) for the 3 wingers. If they were just poor players then I wouldn’t mind, but they are just playing so far below their potentials. It’s obviously much worse due to them all pretty much doing it simultaneously, which also makes it more difficult to explain. The other thing I would like to point out is that we have been well and truly spoilt with our wingers over the last 10-15 years…. Giggs, Ronaldo, Kanchelskis, Sharpe, Cruyff, Poborsky (ok ok I’m joking with the last two), but you get my point. United are a team built around an attacking mentality, and most reds expect two dynamic tricky wingers to tear opponents apart. That hasn’t happened this season, but that’s not to say those same players cannot do it next season. I feel that Nani will move on in the summer but Tony V and Young will still be there next season. Hopefully they will get back to the sort of form we know they can produce.

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  1. Avatar

    It’s no secret that our wingers have been really really poor this season. Valencia actually had his best game on Monday playing right back. I’m not sure what we take that to be honest other than he is a team player.

    I guess when you compare it to Hazard and Mata then we can see where we have struggled. I think Hazard was a big loss when he chose Chelsea because he would have been great for us I think. We are missing that kind of match winner in midfield.

    We need a more direct and pacey player on the wing, who can be skillful and creative, like Hazard and Mata. I was hoping Kagawa could play that role, but I don’t see it working because he lacks the pace. I still think he is a terrific player but he will only be successful in Rooney position.

    Wilfried Zaha is young and will suffer a bit of inconsistency. He will be a bit like Nani, but more because of youth and inexperience. Nani time is over for sure. Valencia is a soldier and deserves another season. Young doesn’t impress me at all and I think he is a squad player now.

    I think we need to sell Rooney to PSG and sell Nani as well. I would then like to see us go hard for Erik Lamela because he is the type of creative and pacey player we need in our team. I would offload Rooney because its the last chance to get a good price, and also it will allow us to play Kagawa in a proper 4-2-3-1 formation.

    ………….De Gea………




    ………..Van Persie……….

  2. Avatar
    Sideshow Bob on

    John, I struggle to understand why so many want Rooney sold? He’s one of the best forwards in the world. He has consistently produced the goods and will continue do so for at least another 4/5 years. Selling him makes little sense.

  3. Avatar

    Agreed our wingers have been poor, with the exception of Valencia the other two should be replace in the summer Valencia just needs to be taught how to kick with his left and he should be fine, our coaches seem to be complacent in this area, if even us fans can see this weakness in Valencia’s game then these professionals should have noticed it as we’ll and done something about it in training all these years to improve his game, the club should also consider retiring or removing the oldies like Giggs, Scholes, Evra, Fletcher from the first team to make way for the younger players coming up cause these guys are hindering the progress of our youngsters, e.g. Paul Pogba, Piqué etc.

  4. Avatar
    Sideshow Bob on

    utdfan, a little bit of respect for Giggs and Scholes wouldn’t go amiss. Evra is enjoying a good season after an indifferent period.

    People need to forget about Pogba. The club or Fergie were not at fault for his departure. His form for the reserves did not warrant selection for the first team and once Raiola became his agent it was always going to be difficult to retain his services.

  5. Avatar


    I think Young never had the ability to be anything more than a decent squad player; never understood why we spent so much on him. could have held onto the money and put it towards a Hazard or a Goetze.

    if Valencia starts off next season like this, it might be worth moving him to (second-choice) right-back permanently. work rate and ball-carrying are all he seems to be offering at the moment.

    shame about Nani, so much talent. would ideally like to see his contract situation resolved, as I suspect that’s what’s disturbed his game. to be fair to him, United tried to engineer the move to Zenit, but the player quoted them a prohibitive wage demand because he didn’t want to leave.

    Big hopes for Zaha next year. we could really do with him hitting the ground running.

  6. Avatar

    I Totally agree with this Article: it is spot on and we definitely need new wingers and fast, it is the United way to play with wingers and these 3 are letting us down badly , as for Valencia wearing the coveted no7 shirt don’t make me laugh! how can you talk about him in the same company as Best, Robbo, Beckham, Cantona, Ronaldo, also Willie Morgan and Stevie Coppell.

  7. Avatar
    Sideshow Bob on

    Valencia has been a good solid player for us and he deserves the opportunity to redeem himself next season. If we sold players after one poor season several of the current squad would be plying their trade elsewhere. Loyalty is a two way stream. When a player is enjoying good form, we expect and want them to sign contract extensions, but when the same player has a poor season we want rid?

    Young is a good squad member; there is no shame in that. He had a decent-to-good first campaign and this season has been interrupted by injuries, but still arguably our best winger. I get the impression he is appreciated more by Fergie than he is by fans. The criticism he receives is unfair.

    Nani is the most talented of our wingers and he can be a match winner. He too has been unfortunate with injuries this season. His departure this summer does look likely.

  8. Avatar

    Great article. I believe that Young is the new Park for us. He is changed his game to be more of a hussler than he used to be.

    Something is wrong with Valencia.

    Nani is a great talent but doesn’t put it in the game often.

    With better wingers we would have been firing on all cylinders this year and van persie would have 40 goals by now.

    The lack of service from our widemen is scary.

    New stat for you, we haven’t scored 5 goals this year.

    • Avatar


      You obviously mean in one match! Overall I agree but I still think Young will come good. Nani will more than likely be on his way and TV is suffering. But a good few of our players have had dips this season and the rest of the team has come through.

      We’ve done well to be this far in front and it’s down to other teams’ lack of consistency as well as our own dogged determination rather than skill in quite a few matches that has seen us through.

      It does wind me up a bit about the No7 shirt though: it meant nothing till Robbo began wearing it.

      By the way, am I the only person who can’t see what Ferdinand has to offer? I’ve watched that man for years and seen him sleeping, get skinned and trip over himself so often it unreal. He’s good at best, never international quality and I’d much rather have a John Terry type (not the man himself) than Ferdinand.

  9. Avatar


    Yeah in one match. I think Young needs to vary his positions a little bit, coming in taking shots. He has got a great shot on him. He is always marked in the wings so sometimes he should come in a bit and take shots,he has got a sweet one.

    We have been getting by, nothing special, just winning. Last season we watched some entertaining football from united at the beginning of the season before the city game scoring for fun, after that we were playing on gear 1 for the rest of the season until the last 2 games(to increase our goal difference). Its not all about the attacking but the intensity of the way we played. That’s what we are lacking as well in my opinion.

    Lol, I get what you are saying, I think Owen wearing it has devalued it a bit, AV is an upgrade.

    I think Rio gives composure to the backline(I prefer Evans and Smalling above him though). Vida is the main man, since his return we have been great. Rio is getting slower. I thought he was great till 09.

  10. Avatar
    Sideshow Bob on

    I think Ferdinand has a good season. He’s been exceptional in the bigger games. We seem to be managing his body and workload where injuries are now less of an issue.

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