Time for Fergie’s policy to bear fruit

September 15, 2010 Tags: Opinion 23 comments

The loss of Antonio Valencia to an horrific double-whammy leg break and ankle dislocation threatens to severely impact Sir Alex Ferguson’s team. Valencia has been one of Manchester United’s brightest attacking threats in the year since his £16 million transfer from Wigan Athletic, and a significant contributor to Wayne Rooney’s goal-glut.

United confirmed severity of Valencia’s injury, although never really in doubt, today as the Ecuadorian winger underwent surgery in Manchester to pin his shattered leg back together. It is now unlikely that the 25-year-old will return to competitive action this season.

Although the nature of Valencia’s injury was freak – catching his studs in the Old Trafford turf as Rangers defender Kirk Broadfoot challenged just after the hour – Ferguson’s long-term planning may now have to bear fruit.

“I just remember sliding in, getting up and looking round to see his bone sticking out,” said Broadfoot, on whom no blame is placed.

“I just tried to get the physio on as soon as possible. You see things like that on television and they are not nice, never mind up close.

“It’s not nice to see a fellow professional like that and I hope he has a fast recovery. He is a top quality player and I want to see him week in, week out again. Hopefully he can get well soon.”

Broadfoot’s hope is unlikely. Another United player, Alan Smith – who suffered a similar break – was rushed into action inside seven months. Now widely regarded as returning too early, Smith never reached the same heights again and Ferguson sold the player to Newcastle United shortly after his return.

Even on the same timeline Valencia will not play again until mid-to-late April 2011.

But as one door shuts, goes the cliché, another opens. The injury to the 25-year-old Ecuadorian winger could offer one of United’s youngster – there are plenty – the chance to step up.

While either the ever-ready but essentially limited Ji-Sung Park and ageing Ryan Giggs will fill in against Liverpool next Sunday, perhaps sooner rather than is time for Ferguson’s stated faith in youth to be rewarded. There is, after all, £10 million worth of talent in Gabriel Obertan and Bebé festering in the reserves.

The Frenchman has started just one Premier League match since his surprise £3.5 million move from Girondin’s de Bordeaux last summer. Injury hasn’t helped. While a back complaint kept the winger on the sidelines until late October last season, a minor ankle injury forced the player out of United’s pre-season tour to North America and he has only this week returned to training.

With Nani likely to switch to the right-wing, where Ferguson believes he is more effective, Obertan’s first step in repaying an ample transfer fee could be to fill in on United’s now vacant left flank. The challenge facing the Frenchman, who has only fleetingly impressed to date, is to force his way into a first team picture that has never seemed further away.

Meanwhile Bebé is yet to play for United at any level following a month of intensive conditioning work and the international break. Those supporters fortunate enough to catch the £7.4 million in action for Portugal Under-21s saw a frighteningly quick but intensely naïve forward, more comfortable in wide positions than as a central striker.

Indeed, few at Old Trafford had expected the Portuguese winger to figure in United’s first team this side of Christmas, despite the hefty fee. That timeline may now be expedited, with just three senior attacking options available to Ferguson in wide areas.

With Tom Cleverley tied to Wigan Athletic until the season’s end, Ferguson must look to United’s even more callow youth for further options. Great deeds may come from Ravel Morrison, new signing Gyliano van Velzen, Robbie Brady, Nick Ajose, and Oliver Norwood, although none has made a first team start to date, even in the Carling Cup.

Of course Ferguson could choose the safer route and deploy Giggs in wide areas once again, although the manager has long since recognised that the Welshman cannot “run up and down that bloody wing” much longer. Meanwhile, Park’s better performances have universally come from central midfield over the past year.

Ferguson’s alternate option – sadly a likely choice in Europe – is to deploy Wayne Rooney wide in a 4-3-3 formation, along with Dimitar Berbatov and Nani. Pushing Rooney wide will satisfy the manager’s desire to use three central midfielders in European football but inevitably blunt the former Evertonian’s goal threat. There is also little chance Rooney will relish being banished to the wing once more.

Perhaps the more exciting option, the one that fits with Ferguson’s stated policy, is to risk either Obertan or Bebé. With Liverpool in town on Sunday, fans have just three days before they find out.

23 comments

Josh - September 15, 2010 Reply

Park or Giggs will play there on Sunday. After that, who knows, but don’t rule out Park and Giggs alternating the position for most of the season, sad as it may sound.

Nikos - September 15, 2010 Reply

Agreed. Obertan is set to shine.

Park will feature more prominently than he would have though – more often than not against the “top” sides and in Europe.

Id gamble with Giggs Sunday however, he still has a lot to offer from the left – and coming inside more for the ball will allow Evra to excel.

Losing Valencia could well be a blessing in disguise, with Nani able to make the RM position his own and subsequently enhance his performance consistency…

Triggs - September 15, 2010 Reply

He’ll play safe on Sunday, but could Bebe and Obertan both get a run out at Scunny?

uncleknobheadforfucksake - September 15, 2010 Reply

genuinely thought rm was referring to real madrid

its bound to happen if nani does well

Edward Cornforth - September 15, 2010 Reply

get well soon & Bebe & Obertan are just not Utd players in my humble Essex Red opinion

TONY QUIRKE - September 15, 2010 Reply

If the likes of Park can retain a regular place in the United side then forget winning anything.
Giggs, a once great player is getting past it as seen against Rangers whilst O’Shea, Evans and Brown are not quality players and Fergie has to go, as you rightly say, for youth.
Macheda, Obertan and Chicharito could become great players if they get regular first team football but despite Fergie’s claim that he wants young players they will rot away whilst the sad, old brigade will continue to destroy the faith of all the fans.

Josh - September 15, 2010 Reply

What about Obertan makes you think he can become a great player? I’ve seen nothing to give that indication.

Aj - September 15, 2010 Reply

“blessing in disguise”, it doesn’t matter how well Nani will do on the right as Valencia’s injury is NO blessing Nikos, you sick idiot. Giggs, Gabby and Bebe will most likely play on the left through out the season with Nani spending more time on the right. I think we could find away to end the Wigan loan and bring Cleverley back if needed as he is our player anyway. The kids will step up when required and I believe their time is coming. Get well quickly Valencia.

Bill - September 15, 2010 Reply

A rotation of Nani, Park, Giggs and Obertan on the wings isn’t too bad an option really.

If Fergie does decide to go back to 4-5-1/4-3-3 Scholes, Fletcher with either Park or Anderson providing the addition energy should work well in midfield.

Aj - September 15, 2010 Reply

Guys keep giving the nod to Park, but does he have what it takes anymore? so far all questions appear to have negative answers as he hasn’t played well since march. Can Park improve and regain his form? YES, will he? who know’s. I will stick with the evergreen ManUtd Legend that is Ryan Giggs and youngsters Gabby and Bebe for the left right now with Nani obviously switching to the right. Get well Valencia (I hear we are looking at a minimum 6mths but maybe as long as 9).

Robbo - September 15, 2010 Reply

Unregistered User said:
Guys keep giving the nod to Park, but does he have what it takes anymore? so far all questions appear to have negative answers as he hasn’t played well since march. Can Park improve and regain his form? YES, will he? who know’s. I will stick with the evergreen ManUtd Legend that is Ryan Giggs and youngsters Gabby and Bebe for the left right now with Nani obviously switching to the right. Get well Valencia (I hear we are looking at a minimum 6mths but maybe as long as 9).

Neither Bebe or Obertan will feature largely in games this season though actually happening would let us see if they have it.

Just1n - September 15, 2010 Reply

The old Fergie would have played the youth.

Just1n - September 15, 2010 Reply

so you basing that on the 3 times he has played.

fuck me if you were in charge Vidic and Evra would have been shipped off ages ago.

Alfonso Bedoya - September 15, 2010 Reply

Just1n said:
The old Fergie would have played the youth.

The old Fergie would have replaced Neville, Scholes and Giggs by now, with players few other teams could afford.

redevil_83 - September 15, 2010 Reply

giggsy and scholesy both starting against the scouzescum i hope that works

rory - September 15, 2010 Reply

HERNANDEZ can play on the left or right of a front three

rory - September 15, 2010 Reply

ando needs to step the fuck up now, fatty

Ed - September 16, 2010 Reply

rory – can Hernandez do that, based on what evidence? Perhaps you watch lots of Mexican football, but every time I’ve seen him play for club and country he’s played right down the middle. Except of course when United was chasing a win against Rangers and Fergie, bizarrely, shoved him wide right.

manutdthebest - September 16, 2010 Reply

4-3-3 for L’pool game! Hernandez, Berba , Nani up front, Rooney Behind them, followed by Scholes and Flect, then strongest back four – Evra, Vida,Rio,Rafel then VDS….
Anyone, like it??

danniitronix - September 16, 2010 Reply

Unregistered User said:
4-3-3 for L’pool game! Hernandez, Berba , Nani up front, Rooney Behind them, followed by Scholes and Flect, then strongest back four – Evra, Vida,Rio,Rafel then VDS….
Anyone, like it??

except that tozza has wanked on vida in recent times. otherwise, i agree; if you can’t get up for a game against the shit eating, granny stabbing, rat licking, pocket dipping, alloy stealing, bum fuckers, then you have problems

even if we get bummed i still want to go down fighting and not like a wet fart from a teenage girl who has drunk a couple of slush puppies, ffs

sidney - September 16, 2010 Reply

Dannii, you’re one sick fuck

Ian - September 17, 2010 Reply

How bad a decision does the loaning of Tom Cleverly to wigan look now!? after just one more bad injury to a key player! worse than a SAF substitution of evans for fabio OR putting chicco on the right wing.. thats how bad.
step up anderson on sunday i reckon. our lack of creativity (without PS) in midfield is embarrassing.

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