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Valencia is not Ronaldo-lite

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Phil McNulty | 08:52 UK time, Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Antonio Valencia is unlikely to be the most high-profile arrival at Manchester United this summer - but that will not spare him from the pressure of intense scrutiny.

Close examination comes with the territory when you are the first newcomer through Old Trafford's door in the wake of Cristiano Ronaldo's £80m departure for Real Madrid.

And the fact that the 23-year-old Ecuadorian patrols a similar footballing beat to the Portuguese superstar will only bring his contribution to post-Ronaldo life at United into sharper focus.

Valencia cannot, however, be regarded as the straight replacement or a Ronaldo-lite. Sir Alex Ferguson will use the huge cheque banked on Wednesday to sign a variety of players to plug the gaps left by Ronaldo's magnificent attacking versatility.

This will be an accurate measure of the influence Ronaldo exerted on United, but Ferguson will back his own judgement - and the verdict of those who have worked closely with Valencia - to support the belief that he has brought a burgeoning talent to Old Trafford.

Valencia has flourished at Wigan after then manager Paul Jewell spent what would ultimately prove to be a profitable day for chairman Dave Whelan in front of the television at the start of the 2006 World Cup.

Jewell watched the young Valencia torment Poland in a 2-0 win and was immediately prompted to set up a loan deal with Villarreal, recalling: "Valencia was the first name in the notebook. I was at home ­watching Poland play Ecuador on the first night and immediately wrote his name in the notebook.

"When I went over to Germany I watched him play against Costa Rica and England and was really impressed."

The Jewell scouting report was fulsome when he unveiled his new capture, saying: "Antonio is something new for Wigan. He has skill in abundance and combines it with electric pace and a high work-rate. I'm convinced he has the attributes to make a success of the Premiership."

And so it proved, leaving Steve Bruce delighted to confirm Jewell's verdict on Valencia when a £5m permanent deal was sealed in January 2008. He has no doubts about what Valencia brings, saying: "He has pace, trickery, he is as strong as an ox and has a great work ethic."

Bruce is a sound judge of footballing flesh, and he believes Valencia has the touch of box office as well as the raw materials to make him a formidable force in the game.

He says: "Valencia has got that thing which not many players have anymore - the ability to dribble. Someone who can run with the ball, take it up the pitch and beat a man is now becoming a dying breed - there aren't many around.

"We don't produce players who want to dribble, we seem to produce the archetypal steady English player. If a player does want to take his man on and run with the ball, people will want to pay to go and see him."

All fully noted by United on numerous occasions and Ferguson's willingness to part with £16m is testimony to Jewell's talent-spotting and Bruce's nurturing of the quiet Ecuadorian.

But there was nothing under-stated about his talent and the scouts were out in force at regular intervals last season, with United monitoring Valencia for 12 months before finally getting their man.

Real Madrid were serious rivals, an indication that Ferguson may have pulled off a coup. while Bayern Munich and Liverpool made inquiries. Spurs and Aston Villa were also suitors until it became clear he was destined for one of the Champions League elite.

Wigan chairman Whelan, ever the astute salesman, piled on the superlatives at the very thought of Valencia gracing Old Trafford, almost suggesting his club was about to do United the biggest favour since Howard Wilkinson's decision to allow Eric Cantona to head across the M62 from Leeds United.

Whelan said: "I think Antonio is the best wide right player anywhere and that includes Franck Ribery. If this lad goes to Man United he will be a sensation there.

antoniovalencia

"Within a few months and over the course of a season the United supporters would come to worship this lad. We see him week-in, week-out in games and in training and he's a world-class player.

"He doesn't play the same way as Ronaldo. There is no show or flash, but he's a world-class player and he'll take some replacing. No-one tackles him or takes the ball off him because they can't get near him.

"At the kind of money that's been talked about for Antonio he'd be an absolute steal. United appear to be getting £80m for Ronaldo and they would be paying out a fraction of that for Valencia, so it would be great business because this boy has got immense ability."

Valencia is a more orthodox winger than the attacking all-rounder Ronaldo became under Ferguson's tutelage, but his pace and trickery are right up Ferguson's street, given the United manager's well-known love of wingers.

The question marks remain about Valencia's end product, with his final delivery unpredictable and his goal return of three goals in 31 Premier League games this season unspectacular.

United will study those statistics, and there is no doubt there is an element of the punt about United paying so much for a talent that is, to some extent, unproven and placing it in an arena that has proved too much for bigger reputations and bigger names than Valencia.

Ferguson, it should be noted, has been here before. The same criticisms about a lack of end product were levelled at the teenage Ronaldo before his game was fashioned into the finished article by the Scot.

The Valencia package was on display in microcosm in the opening moments of United's victory at Wigan in May when a searing burst of pace left Nemanja Vidic embarrassed, only for a scuffed and wayward finish to spoil the good work.

United are certain to use Valencia in his familiar flank role, and Ferguson will make more expensive additions around him to compensate for the removal of Ronaldo from his plans, as well as returning Wayne Rooney to the more potent and profitable central role he prefers.

Ferguson will also be an expert guide at reducing the pressure on Valencia as every new face draws comparison with Ronaldo - occasionally unfavourably.

He is the master of moulding raw talent and while Valencia's career bears no serious comparison with Ronaldo, who is only six months older, Ferguson has plenty to work with.

Valencia may represent something of a gamble, and an expensive one at that, but Ferguson's belief in the young Ecuadorian is strong enough to make him take it without hesitation.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    I saw his potential first hand when he wrrived at Wigan. I remember saying to my brother (a Latics season ticket holder) that they wouldn't hold on to him for long. He has stayed longer than I thought but he is a class act.

  • Comment number 3.

    It appears Fergie is going to sign a couple of players to replace Ronaldo which cant be a bad thing, as it will improve the depth in the squad. One or two more signings I hope and we should be able to mount yet another assault on our title.

  • Comment number 4.

    Yep, he's a good buy for Fergie. Also noted that he comes without the world class ego of other names that have been touted, and I think that's more in keeping with the Man U way.

  • Comment number 5.

    I have a horrible feeing this will be our only signing this summer :(

    The only other players worth signing are Villa and Benzema - and neither of them look like they're coming here!

  • Comment number 6.

    Very nice article, well done Phil!
    Valencia might turn out to be the only summer signing of Sir Alex, as the other players rumoured with a move to Old Trafford are quite unlikely, and in my opinion - unnecessary. The players Manchester United have should be more than enough for the team to be able to challenge for the title, among other trophies, yet again.

  • Comment number 7.

    Potential is the key word here Phil and with support from some of the more senior players at United, together with the staff, hopefully like many players Fergie's bought that potential will be realised.
    Like you I believe it will be a number of players that will help United put together a more balanced looking side, with Rooney operating more in a central role.
    I still believe Scholes has been immense for Us over the years and it his contribution to the side that for Me ís the most important attribute we need to replace at United. There's no point having the best guns in the business if there's no one there to load them.

  • Comment number 8.

    The problem is - Valencia isn't worth 16m. That's a price Fergie paid because he cashed the 80m cheque!

    United needs good-enough players, fast! Who's got the time to nurture talent now? We want one with a killer instinct. Valencia might end up okayish for United, but that doesn't cut it. Playing for Wigan is a different world than playing for the Champs!

    Underwhelmed!

  • Comment number 9.

    Don't know why Chelsea haven't jumped on this, why haven't we bought anybody as yet? Could the money have dried up at the Bridge? Wouldn't want a 30 year old Pirlo in the team, we need to buy younger players. Valencia would've been ideal, the boy's 23. Hope Ancellotti doesn't turn us into the retirement village they got going in Milan!!!!!!
    COME ON U BLUES!!!!!!!!! BUY SOMEBODY, ANYBODY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 10.

    Whether it is a good deal or not, ultimately only time will tell.

    In the meantime, acquisitions such as Nani show that potential is one thing and success is quite another. As is said in the article, Valencia is only six months younger than Ronaldo and is nowhere near his quality! Other people can talk him up all they want but it's what he does on the pitch that matters and so far, he hasn't done much. Kalou at Chelsea is more productive for goodness sake! Would you pay £15m+ for Kalou?

  • Comment number 11.

    You are right he is not Ronaldo-lite, he is Ronaldo-zero

  • Comment number 12.

    United needed a presence on the right wing and they have got the very best 'available' talent for the job. Even if Ronaldo had stayed I think Valencia was needed, Ronaldo has played more and more as a forward player over the last 2 seasons (actually, to say he scored 42 goals from the wing is absolute nonsense as he played over half his games that season as a forward but thats a different discussion)
    Valencia is a more orthodox winger than Ronaldo ever was, he will hug the touch line all day long and work back to help his fullback out too.
    I dont think he will ever score the amount of goals Ronaldo did but he will improve greatly at Manchester United and prove to be a very good signing. Playing with better players and in a team that creates more chances i can easily see him contributing about 10 goals and 10 assists next season. As long as Berbatov and Rooney (playing in his correct position) up their goal tally next season United will still be the team to beat. Factor in a better team spirit because Tevez is no longer moaning and Ronaldo isn't acting like a selfish brat and then add Aguero or Benzema to the squad......theres no reason to worry about Ronaldos exit.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    I really truly honestly believe this is our biggest signing this summer and in a way maybe a blessing in disguise we have world class players at the club as it is adding another world class striker would cause problems having 2 30 million pound strikers and then adding a 3rd who do you leave on the bench. SAF believes in changing the system for 3 yrs its worked with the first season being one of the most flair and the second being the most effective and the last season being a case of scraping through. So now we are ready for change the main focal point has left and we are a team again.

  • Comment number 17.

    On a separate note, I see from the gallery of Kaka pictures that the BBC is doing Real Madrid's bidding for them, in terms of promoting their new signings from which they will realise the value that will ultimately pay for them.

    Nice!

  • Comment number 18.

    Don't know what a Ronaldo lite is.... ? But I think this young player will become a very good signing for United.
    SAF has run his eye over many right wingers / players of this type in the past year ( Ronaldo leaving )and he has picked this lad. Short vids of him and a couple of P/L matches I saw him play ,show excellent control, great pace, strength, heads up play, good shot and , he's not afraid to tackle / defend.
    10 million now buys a 'lump of wood' or has - been failure.
    I reckon his talent will shine thro at OT, good luck to him.
    Now we need a finisher/ striker to spell Rooney / Berbatov.

  • Comment number 19.

    Breaking- Benzema has signed for Real

  • Comment number 20.

    Very happy with this signing. Good player, hard worker. Benezerma could be on his way according to team mate. Another good year for United? I hope so. Come on!

  • Comment number 21.

    Are Manchester United the official scouts for real Madrid!!?? i see now they have Benzema......great, If fegie wants him, we should get him....

  • Comment number 22.

    Poor Tommy Onion letting his hate of Manchester United cloud the real issues to be discussed here - AGAIN!

    Look at things from a more neutral, unbiased perspective (if you can) and look at the FACTS that are mentioned - then you might write something that actually contributes to the blogs you comment on.

    Everyone else can see you are clearly wrong in your statements above.
    I believe Phil said in a different blog that tehre was no choice for Ferguson about Ronaldo, not fergusons decision but Ronaldo's decision to leave. As for Tevez - his advisors wanted the same amount of money that United spent on Berbatov.
    Berbatov and Tevez' arrived in English football the same time and Berbatov's record is better so (A) Tevez was overpriced and (B) he's sulking cos he's not guaranteed first team football. Anyone who doesnt want to fight for his place is not worth 30million.
    Valencia will be a great signing.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm really excited to see him play for us

  • Comment number 24.

    Good blog phil

    I think Valencia is a good addition to the Man utd squad. I am only apprehensive of the mostly unfair comparison he will get against Cristiano Ronaldo. I also see this as an opportunity for Man utd to once again change their style of play which may just work for them in Europe as they had started to become quite predictable and one dimensional

    It will be interesting to see who Sir Alex gets next. I aslo feel it is not only Ronaldo who needs replacing but Ferguson am sure is also thinking about replacing Scholes, Giggs, Van Der Sar and even who to take over from Ferdinand. The 80m from the sale of Ronaldo should go a long way in achieving this.

    So if Ferguson next gets a goal keeper he will have the squad's longterm interests at heart and not just replacing Ronaldo.

  • Comment number 25.

    Benzema rumours denied by Lyon

  • Comment number 26.

    Your love for United grows with every blog Phil. Not the fairest of blogs this, bigging up a very unspectacular signing giving barely any criticisms.

    I remember Valencia in the 06 World Cup. He did look pretty good. But is he really United standard? I suppose when they've got Park and Nani there - yes he is.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    This is absolutely the most positive article I think you have ever written. No side swipes at Chelsea Arsenal or Liverpool. No quips about Benitez's rants, Wenger's sulks, or barbed comments about which ever manager has fallen through the revolving door at Chelsea.

    A pure and passionate piece about Man Utd. It reads very much like you enjoyed writing it.

    ;)

  • Comment number 29.

    All we need now is Benzema and we're good to go for another year. And who will inherit the no. 7 shirt now anyway? Wayne Rooney?

  • Comment number 30.

    what is it with these people with onion in there names just moaning about everything!! but you love onions?? bless em.

  • Comment number 31.

    Totally true MrBlue - he is only six months younger, but one thing going for him is that he hasn't been at United for the last 5 years, whereas Ronaldo has had Fergie cultivating him all that time.

    I think he'll do well. Interesting stuff - just hope they put him on show at their pre-season friendly to Luton!

  • Comment number 32.

    The signing of Valencia is somewhat of a gamble and i think most Man Utd fans will be hoping he is a success rather than expecting him to be.

    He is a player that for the last year or so journo's and pundits (not to mention Bruce and Whealan) keep telling us is a great talent, but I have to be honest and say I have never really seen him play, apart from the odd highlight on tv and to a large extent I just assume the above are correct.

    Obviously playing for Wigan is a part of the reason why I haven't really seen him play but now is a great opportunity to see if he lives up to his billing.

    Also, Man Utd now seem well covered on the wings if we include Park, Tosic, who apparently has impressed for Serbia at the U21's, and I still hold out hope that nani can make the next step in progress.

    An extra centre midfielder may be needed. Leave Rooney and Berbatov upfront with Walbeck and macheda as understudies. Fergie likes to give youth a chance and buying in another high profile £30 mil striker will leave us with the same problems as last year. Namely how to fit 3 into 2 while getting the best out of Rooney and keeping everyone happy.

  • Comment number 33.

    doubt if benzema would move. a year before WC, plays first team, and in CL. He be silly to move. and if utd were to make a silly bid, then yes perhaps club would accept but doubt if he would. furthermore if utd do bid rest assured madrid would also.

  • Comment number 34.

    The Valencia signing is a good one in my opinion, Fergie and everyone must realise that there is no-way you can replace Ronaldo on the right-wing...
    However wasn't Ronaldo really a right-winger, he was always granted more of a free-role. Valencia's job will be clear, break at speed get down the right flank and get the ball into the box, United have not had a winger do that since Kanchelskis, (Beckham again being a very different kind of wing-man).

    The next task for Fergie would be to get someone similar on the left (my vote is for the out of favour Robben, Giggs is too old), this will free Rooney up to be a more talismanic front man, feeding off the new approach (which is infact an old approach) of wing men getting to the by-line and getting the ball into the box, might even help Berbe.

    Now the Confed cup is out of the way, expect the signings to start happening...

  • Comment number 35.

    god bless you, simsey33 - that cracked me up.

    Now go and have a look at what Phil actually wrote about Ronaldo leaving - here's a brief reminder "Ferguson has a sure touch when it comes to sensing a player's era is over at Old Trafford, and he will have detected all the vital signs from Ronaldo last season that it was time to part.

    Real's world record bid will ease any pain of separation - and makes this the right deal at the right time for Ferguson and United.

    Ferguson will have played his full part in the decision to finally sell Ronaldo. A deal of this magnitude would not have been done without the great Old Trafford dictator's say-so."

    No mention that actually the deal was agreed by all parties a year previous because the player was desperate to go. £80m is a great fee for United but to portray it, as phil did, that this was the genius timing of Ferguson is ridiculous.

    and then yesterday Phil was telling us this about Tevez "I watched United many times last season, and while Tevez could never be faulted for effort there was just something missingn [sic] when it came to end product in my opinion.

    If Sir Alex Ferguson believed the Argentine was indispensible, I feel certain he would have done the deal."

    Ignoring the fact Ferguson/United offered him a deal which the player rejected.


    As for Valencia being a great signing, in time we'll see but the fact he's been talked up by the selling club shouldn't be a surprise to anybody.

  • Comment number 36.

    FAir comment from Bennyonions - Valencia might NOT live up to expectation and may prove just another squad player - in that case he would be a failure at 16mill.
    There is a good chance that he will improve too and be a very good player for United ala Lee Sharpe or Kanchelskis.

    Anyway, regardless of his price tag or who he plays for I still thought Valancia was the best winger in the PL last yr with Ashley Young(I dont count ronaldo as a winger)
    There isnt much else about only Wright Phillips, Riera, Malouda, Nasri, Richardson, Pennant, Bentley etc. (Martin Petrov was injured) so well done to Utd for snapping him up

  • Comment number 37.

    Man U could do with someone to play wide left, so we might well see someone to play there, unless Fergy bring Tosic through, but he's untried

  • Comment number 38.

    The good news is Mr ferguson can't replace Ronaldo as the only other truly world class attacking players are already spoken for or wouldnt move to manchester.

    So all Mr ferguson can do is improve his squad.

    As Mr ferguson already had the best overall squad he might just about improve the squad...but he will not improve the first eleven after losing Ronaldo.

  • Comment number 39.

    I think Valencia is going to play right back more than right wing. Utd are still on the hunt for a right winger but are short on the right back front, even though Wes Brown should be fit for the start of the season. Neville's had it unfortunately, so that's just two right full backs to choose from and one of them is injury prone. Valencia's and Evra's attacking nature against weaker opposition (which is most teams in the Permiership and Europe)will allow Utd to open up teams quicker. You only had to see how many times Evra got the ball in the final third last season to see what could possibly happen on the right this season. Should be fun to watch.

  • Comment number 40.

    A good buy if a bit over-priced, Fergie likes em young! At least we've got someone in though and hope they'll be a couple more to follow, although just can't see Benzema or any of the Spanish based players coming. Let's face it, they don't really want to live in the north of England do they!

    Valencia might be a bit of a gamble, but hey he can't be any more of a flop than Nani can he!

  • Comment number 41.

    TommyOnion im not being funny mate but who cares, i dont im just botherd about this blog!.

  • Comment number 42.

    Watching Valencia against United for wigan last season, I thought he looked like a real threat and if anyone can get the best out of him it's AF. I think he can blossom into a major talent. I also think Rooney will shine now that he is out of Ronaldo's shadow.

  • Comment number 43.

    mape-ventura - post 34

    Robben is a great player, albeit with a dodgy history record, but after turning down Utd once to move to Chelsea, I don't think ferguson will ever consider him an option to bring in.

    Tosic is untried but he will definately be given game time this year, now that the settling in period is coming to an end and he did cost a few bob after all. We just have to have faith in a manager who has done it all before successfully with previous players

  • Comment number 44.

    Having watched a huge amount of footie last season I have seen quite a bit of this guy and his is ok. He certainly does have a lot of potential. But the thing that should be worrying all Man U fans is, now that Ronaldo is gone where will the goals come from?
    Without a doubt Rooney is a top class striker but he can get very petulant if things don't go his way. Scholes can score a few from midfield, as can Giggs, but their careers are coming to an end. Berbatov seems to have lost his edge and sparkle that he showed glimpses of at Spurs. Tevez is out one way or another, if we are to believe the press.
    Are Man U pinning all their hopes on their 'super sub' if so they may be sadly mistaken. He has raw talent, for sure but their is no way he is ready or good enough for a lenghty season to replace the goalscoring feats of Ronaldo.
    So where from here? It would seem unlikely that David Villa would go to any other English club than Liverpool, especially with his Spanish 'friends' already there.
    Eto'o may leave Barcelona but it is unlikely that Man U will smash their wage policy to accommodate his demands.
    Who does that leave who can replace Ronaldo's twenty plus goals per season? I have no idea who they can get to fill that gap, as it stands the remaining top strikers in the world are either under contract and happy or asking for more money on a wage basis than Man U are prepared to shell out.
    Could selling Ronaldo be a BAD business decision?
    Can two or three players who will, without a doubt strengthen the squad, replace the goal scoring and assist machine that was Ronaldo?
    We all know that Fregie is a wizard on the transfer market but it seems that this time pulling a big enough rabbit out of the proverbial hat might be too much to ask.

  • Comment number 45.

    I dont think anyone will be comparing Valencia with Ronaldo. Lets face it Ronaldo was a truly unique talent but he has gone. We move on and adapt.
    (Hopefully) Rooney gets to play in his best position which will benefit not only United but England

  • Comment number 46.

    How Man Utd performs this coming season will determine whether Sir Alec's reputation grows or is somewhat tarnished.
    Today's dogmatic naysayers would do well to remember their many like-minded predicessors of 2003 who quipped "He signed the wrong Ronaldo!"
    The 'wrong Ronaldo' just cost the Real Madrid £80 million; the 'real Ronaldo' is not very 'Real' at Corinthians.
    It remains to be seen whether Kaka, Ronaldo & Co enable Real Madrid to really live up to its name.

  • Comment number 47.

    Glad that you are smilling Tommy, your first post seemed like it was written by someone in pain

    Fair enough on the Tevez thing, United offered him a deal and he didnt take it, but I still maintain a player is not worth any money if he's not willing to fight for his place. We'll never know the truth of the Tevez saga cos apparantly the United board wanted to get the price down and this is why a deal wasnt struck in January. If so, it backfired!
    However - the fact that he's joing city (no CL football) over Chelsea and United shows he's after the money (like Garret Barry who could have joined Liverpool) so good luck to him. It may backfire on him too!
    I think he should have signed the deal, fought for his place and won trophies.

    I wont go into the ronaldo thing except to say that the time was right to let him join Madrid, this is regardless of whether Ferguson could do anything about it or not. In fairness to Ferguson he sent him on his way with his blessing but it was also a masterstroke conviccing him to stay last season cos they wouldnt have won the PL or reached te CL final without him. It was plain from his behaviour last yr that asking him to stay another yr would be a mistake. This is what I took from the Ronaldo blog.

    As for Valencia, United had him earmarked ever before Dave Whelan opened his mouth, but as you said, time will tell......

  • Comment number 48.

    Over priced. I don't agree with your statement " Alex Ferguson will use the huge cheque banked on Wednesday to sign a variety of players to plug the gaps left by Ronaldo's magnificent attacking versatility."

    I don't think there are gaps. A gap maybe but not multiple ones, and certainly Ferguson won't be signing a variety of players either. United have the personel already. They have some very good young players coming through. I think Giggs Scholes Neveille will be Carling cup players next season. The twins, Gibson, Macheda, and others will be more and more present. Park is an outstanding player on the wing and with Valencia on the other, I can see Rooney and Berbatov making a lovely strike force. While 26 goals is impressive, I would love to know what percentage of possession Ronaldo lost or wasted by driving the ball into the wall all the time.

  • Comment number 49.

    To r3minder...it is a fact Manchester United will now have to pay a transfer "premium" because they have just banked an £80m cheque for Cristiano Ronaldo. Manchester City face a similar difficulty because of the wealth of their backers.

    Valencia is expensive, and as I said in the blog, a bit of a gamble, but United at least have the cash to pay the more expensive prices.

  • Comment number 50.

    41. At 1:29pm on 01 Jul 2009, JAGOMUFC wrote:

    TommyOnion im not being funny mate but who cares, i dont im just botherd about this blog!.


    I do

    this is the 3rd blog in a row where the 'mastery of Ferguson' is getting promoted by the Blogger in Chief. I feel entitled to question that. Especially as he's been plainly wrong on the first two counts.

  • Comment number 51.

    Ronaldo's lucrative departure does provide some opportunity for Man Utd I believe. With the proceeds, everything should be done to ensure rooney is allowed to return to his central role, and build a partnership with berbatov which seems like a dream pairing give berbas touch and rooneys pace, strength and work rate. Therefore the money must now be aimed at a convincing left winger first, then an additional striker (a villa or benz' would be fantastic for utd, if the funds are flowing), followed by a versatile rightback who can play just as well at centre to provide cover for rio/vidic. As for whom, the debate could go on for ever, but SAF must use this large war chest to address the weaker areas in utd's squad. The loss of utd's talisman is far from the worst thing that could happen to utd because now SAF can build a truly faultless squad which no longer needs to rely on inspirational moments from Ronaldo, but they can instead rely on the full team. Not that I want this to happen though, being a Liverpool fan, but man utd fans should.

  • Comment number 52.

    Phil, You stated perfectly all the moments of new signing Valencia and the departure of ronaldo. however, Still MUTD can use this guy with a different way.

  • Comment number 53.

    Valencia's good and a decent buy, but he is not Ronaldo and now with Benzema looking as though he's going to go to Real Madrid, United look very light up front.

    http://sportingchameleon.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 54.

    That's one area solved. But Man Utd surely needs a proper LW now? Mind you, anyone who plays on LW has got to work hard to cover for the attacking minded Evra, so who is this 'complete LW' who could attack down the left AND cover for Evra? Replacements for Scholes and Giggs need to be sought as well.

  • Comment number 55.

    To tommyonion post 50

    Dont you mean that YOU think he's wrong on the first two counts.

    80million for a player who doesnt want to play for you anymore - whats wrong with that?
    NOT spending 30million on a player who also doesnt want to play for you - not much wrong with that either...

    Ronaldo is not replaceable by one other player, no matter how much United decide to spend (this is why Madrid paid 80million!)
    Tevez is!

  • Comment number 56.

    Hopefully I can experience in first-hand by watchin' his performance during the Man Utd Asia Tour this comin' 18th July...Now there's another reason for me to be there...

  • Comment number 57.

    I think this could turn out to be a great deal, but I think there is still some convincing to be done. Obviously many people involved in the game rate him highly, so I am excited to see what he can do with better quality around him (no offence to Wigan).

    I hope that Berba steps up next season, he certainly has the talent to be the 'star' of the team alongside Rooney, who I am sure will be in fantastic goalscoring form next season. I am interested to see if anyone else comes in, if a striker comes he will need to be able to cope with the selection policy (like Carlos Tevez could not - I am really interested to see how he feels at City, with a striking list more than double the size Tevez just complained about!!!).

    I expect to see someone else arrive, possibly a hard man in midfield and a young striker - Marcus Berg perhaps? He seems to be a hot target for many Utd fans.

  • Comment number 58.

    Sir Alex is known for being a gambler in the game. I wish all United fnas good luck and hope this gamble pays off for them.

  • Comment number 59.

    If we've been looking at Valencia for a few months now (even as long as a year ago)...as apparently we have been, then did we a) already know Ronnie was off or b) always going to bid for him even if Ronnie had stayed?

  • Comment number 60.

    Valencia-Anderson-Carrick-Nani
    -------Berbatov-Rooney--------

    Can you hear the knocking of knees from terrified defenders?

    No, me neither.

  • Comment number 61.

  • Comment number 62.

    Jermaine Pennant in disguise(Valencia). Marca claims Benzema has signed but L'OM commercial director says that the story is 'without foundation'. An offer of over 30 million has been confirmed but he refuses to name the team whose offer has been accepted. In Marca, it claims Benzema's agent has confirmed that it's Real Madrid. Depends, Do you believe the Frenchman or the Spaniard? An age old question.

  • Comment number 63.

    i think we'll see the best of nani if he stays, i honestly think this is fergy reverting to a 4-4-2 attacking formation circa 2000, no-one could handle them then, it seems bizarre now but very few top teams play a simple 442, i wonder if fergie thinks that reverting to this could spring a suprise to europes elite.

    I think pure attacking ability of nani and valencia down the wings, to supply rooney and berbatov upfront, he's looking for a giggs and beckham, yorke and cole combination that at the time was a joy to behold. It was obvious that ronaldo was not an out and out winger anymore and his movement required similar adaptability from the forwards as well as using 'work horses' like park and rooney on the flanks.

    Fergie always has a plan, and i thouroghly belive he has been grooming nani and looking for another similar supplier for the opposing wing. Rooney and berbatov will get over 25 each next year. Carrick to control the pace like keane used to, evra and rafael will provide the support from deep like nevilles back in the day.

  • Comment number 64.

    Deary me, simsey33, talk about getting the wrong end of the stick! At the risk of incurring the wrath of JAGOMUFC i can't let that pass....

    "80million for a player who doesnt want to play for you anymore - whats wrong with that?" - What's wrong with that is claiming the deal is done at the behest of the manager when it plainly wasn't.

    "NOT spending 30million on a player who also doesnt want to play for you - not much wrong with that either..."

    Except Phil's claim was that Ferguson/United chose not to do the deal when the truth is that the player rejected United's offer.


    Apologies to the rest of you. It seems it's beyond Phil to answer me himself and beyond the wit of poor Simsey33 to understand what's going on, so i'll leave it at that.

  • Comment number 65.

    Valencia to me looks good.
    He looks pacey and tricky and good enough for to win the Premier League as part of the United squad.
    In theory, United still have £64m to spend on the midfield (centre/left)that was lacking in the Champions League Final and possibly a forward player who will most probably act as a 3rd choice to Berbatov and Rooney.
    Although it is different because United needed a winger and L'pool needed a full back - if Glen Johnson is worth £18m, then Valencia isn't a bad buy at £16m, especially if there is a 'premium' for united because of their new found spends.
    Good luck to the lad, just hope he has a 'mare against Wolves!!

  • Comment number 66.

    If anyone has ever watched Valencia play for his country they would see that he plays in an attacking midfield role and also on the left sometimes. As regards his quality he should improve no end with better players around him to pass receive cross and get set up himself.
    Also a case in point nani was bought for nearly the same money and chris eagles was by far the better player when utd played burnley last season.
    As for Park you know what to expect 110 per cent.
    Ronaldo scored and set up goals no doubt but too many times he wasnt interested in playing and looked like hed rather crash a ferrari and laugh about it.

  • Comment number 67.

    An enjoyable article. I am very interested to see how well Valencia works out for Utd. Since he came to Wigan I have thought he looked an exciting prospect. However fans such as r3minder reflect an attitude that I note all to often in fans of top four clubs now days, and I should now as a liverpool supporter. Namely the arrogant presumption that unless a player plays for one of the top clubs in Europe then they cannot be good enough. "Playing for Wigan is a different world than playing for the Champs!"My case in point. Valencia has played in the same league as Utd for two seasons, and competed against them too, have a little faith in your manager and the ability of 'smaller' clubs to create good players.

  • Comment number 68.

    No he's not going to score as many goals as Ronaldo did, but he won't be taking penalties & free kicks, which in fairness contributed 10-15 goals a season for Ronaldo. His team ethic over individual performance might also bring out more goals from Berbatov and Ronaldo, I don't think the goals are as much of a serious issue as some people are making out. Although I would like another striker to arrive at United before the start of the season, Berbatov's not quite my cup of tea, but having said that, now Ronaldo's left United may well start to play in a different manner that suits Berbatov slightly more.

    Like someone said above, what's the point in having the best guns if you've got nobody to load them. United still need another world class centre midfielder IMO, Ryan Giggs in Centre mid in the champions League Final vs Barcelona just isn't going to cut it i'm afraid.

    Delighted with the signing of Valencia! Just hoping that Nani steps it up 3 or 4 levels this season in the absence of Ronaldo or I don't see why he's needed at Old Trafford anymore.

  • Comment number 69.

    nearly forgot about the lazy bulgarian. berbatov and nani are both cans of ...............

  • Comment number 70.

    am very very happy with the signing as i believe a genuine winger is exactly what we need to bring out the best in berbatov. unlike most i totally believe in his talent and think he and rooney can be dynamite together this year. would also be happy with benzema but would prefer to buy another midfielder as i think giggs and scholes have had their day. really dont want to see giggs in the first team again this year. if hargreaves can come back ok if not we must replace him as i believe that anderson will develop into a world class attacking midfielder. anyway champions again for sure.

  • Comment number 71.

    "Rooney and berbatov will get over 25 each next year. Carrick to control the pace like keane used to, evra and rafael will provide the support from deep like nevilles back in the day"

    The planets will then align, and a wonderful thing will happen - benign alien beings will descend from the very heavens themselves, bringing with them a wonderful truth, and the world shall forevermore live in perfect peace and harmonee.

  • Comment number 72.

    Does anybody else think that if we employed Rafael and Valencia down the right wing, and Evra and Fabio down the left wing, then we could get exploit the natural tendencies of these players to get forward, thereby stretching opposition teams?
    Evra, Fabio, and Rafael all like to overlap, and we've heard from Bruce and Whelan that Valencia isn't adverse to tracking back, so it would make sense to employ them all together.
    With Rafael bursting past Valencia, and Evra bursting past Fabio, we'd effectively have four wingers, and players that can all track back. There wouldn't be worries about their ability, as all four are very comfortable on the ball, and Fabio and Rafael are arguably better at getting forward than they are defensively.
    However, this would also mean that we would have to employ a full-time defensive midfielder to cover the space left by these players getting forward. If Hargreaves was fit, then he would be perfect, but if he isn't, then what is the consensus on Fletcher, Carrick, or Anderson to do the job? Would we partner two of these, to dictate tempo and shift play out wide, or would we have to buy another defensive midfielder, or, perhaps, an attacking midfielder?
    In an ideal world, I'd personally like our team to look something like this:
    -----------------Van Der Sar------------------
    ----------Ferdinand-------Vidic----------------
    Rafael-------------Hargreaves--------------Evra
    Valencia---------Anderson/Carrick----------Fabio
    --------------Berbatov----Rooney----------------
    That may seem naive, but with question marks lingering over the form of Nani, and Tosic's frame, I think Fabio has the skill, desire, and mindset to be given a go on the left wing, until one, or both of the aforementioned players can step up. Obviously, with a squad as varied as ours, we can play quite a few different formations, but I feel that this gives us strength and power in the centre, with real pace and overlapping strength down the wings. This will stretch teams, and prevent them from marking players out of the game, as each of these players can use the ball. All respect to Park, but I just feel that these wingers offer something that he can't, which is real control, and a spark.

  • Comment number 73.

    Good blog Phil. He's not the goal scorer like Ronaldo but he's quick, which is a huge asset at this level.

  • Comment number 74.

    The Benzema issue seems to be turning into a political game and it is for that reason that clubs employ well paid chief executives.

    Has Benzema signed? Probably not at this stage since there would be nothing to be lost by announcing it.

    Have Real Madrid signed him? Well, perhaps the Spanish press are reporting so in an attempt to stop other suitors coming in. Afterall, if Man U turned up with a last minute bid that was less than was being offered elsewhere, this could be made public and may be considered a little embarrassing.

    Never really believe it until both clubs go public and you see the player in the new shirt.

  • Comment number 75.

    one of the best pieces of business in the EPL.

    valencia is one of the most underrated wingers in europe and if we didnt have joe cole i would have loved him to come to the bridge

  • Comment number 76.

    To captainmonkeyhanger...Nani - now there's a thing. He undoubtedly has talent but, from what I saw last season, just hasn't progressed. If he survives the summer at Manchester United (and there has been speculation that he won't) then the forthcoming season will be a defining one for him. Now or never time.

    On Benzema, Lyon say they have received no acceptable offer yet - and the French side are renowned as notoriously tough negotiators when it comes to parting with their prime assets.

    That one could run and run - and just how many forwards do Real Madrid need?

  • Comment number 77.

    Beyond my wit?? Cheers Tommy

    I wont even bother asking you again to look at the comments from a more neutral/unbiased standpoint - its a waste of time.

    I'll let you go back to your United Bashing in the world where only your opinion is the right one.

    It is, however, amazing to see you have such exact and 100% knowledge of the Ronaldo/Tevez deals. Did you speak with David Gill, Alex Ferguson, Ronaldo and Tevez personally or do you just believe every simplified or overblown tabloid media report?
    Its clearly the latter which leaves no room in your onion head for consideration of anyone else's opinion.

    Elbert Hubbard once said "The recipe for perpetual ignorance is a very simple and effective one: be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge".

    You are well on your way

  • Comment number 78.

    Valencia looked good at Wigan, but then again a lot of average players would stand out at a team like Wigan. Berbatov looked good at Tottenham, but from a big fish in a small pond to a team full of world class stars playing Champions league football....let's just say he hasn't met our expectations, and we won't know until Valencia starts playing regular football for Man U whether he's going to be worth £16m.

    One thing you can be certian of though, he will never fill Ronaldo's boots. And anybody who thinks that we will be remotely close to the level we were last season without signing other players to compliment Valencia is pretty deluded in my opinion. Not only has Ronaldo gone, but Tevez has left who was just as good as Ronaldo in many games and scored an abundance of crucial goals (we are going to seriously miss his work rate), Giggs and Scholes are gonna be struggling and Berbatov suffers from narcolepsy all too often in big games....it's not looking good. And the young players are promising but cannot win us the Premiership and Chmapions league due to their resounding lack of experience.

    Bottom line, we need another attacking mid-field player, like a Lampard or Gerrard type player; we could do with another winger to play on the opposite side of Valencia; and we definitely need another striker. Benzema is the only viable option but (surprise, surprise) wants to go to Madrid.

    Does anybody else think it's an absolute JOKE how Real Madrid have done nothing in recent years yet they have the most pulling power of any team in the world? Sod the weather, come to United and be part of something legitimate and successful!

  • Comment number 79.

    A lot of comments are saying United need a world class midfielder, which I would also agree with.

    Anyone think a 20million offer for Pirlo is worth a punt? I'd love to see him at OT, pure class and a bit like Scholes 5 yrs ago I reckon.

    And "apparantly" he's unsettled at Milan....

  • Comment number 80.

    As a supporter of (now) a league 1 team (Norwich) I enjoy reading the comments about the Prem teams and players - occasionly adding my comments - Reading the comments about Man U post Ronaldo I keep seeing people asking where the goals will come from. However I am sure that he took the Pens and most free kicks so unless the replacement pen taker is useless then these pens will still be scored. Also I would expect that as soon as the players were aware that Ronaldo was off they have been practising free kicks so some one will take over this duty (i.e. Ronaldo took over from Beckham). Would Ronaldo have been top scorer for MI doubt itan U if he was not the one who took pens and only did a few free kicks. I know he will be missed but teams evolve and I will reserve my judgement on Man U (and the rest of the top teams) until I see the full list of purchases and salare and how the teams perform in the fist month or two of the new season

  • Comment number 81.

    Looks like your gonna have to re-sign Saha thanks to Real Madrid nicking all your targets! Well you are their feeder club so players are bound to wanna go to Real over United!

  • Comment number 82.

    So Man Utd make a signing (not even a big name one at that) and we get an entire blog on it. Is this to be the pattern of the summer. Intense scrutiny and debate every time one of the Big 4 (+ loads of money Man City and Real Madrid) make a signing.
    Maybe the 6 of them should be thrown together into a super mini league and the rest of us fans can get on with debating the wider football world as we (used to) know it.

  • Comment number 83.

    Im sorry Phil but 40odd millions worth of "talent" in Nani and Berbatov. Nani`s decision making is terrible and he daudles on the ball. As an Irishman I would like to thak Berba for letting us off the hook in the wc qualifiers.Im waiting for him to shorten his name to DB he is that lazy. Its up to fergies man management to get an end product from these guys or mayb they are dolls

  • Comment number 84.

    Tommy Onions - I am pretty sure that United's offer to Tevez was made in the full knowledge that he was going elsewhere. After all, in the last few weeks he has given endless interviews about being disrespected, not part of the family etc and after the title was won(yes!)he made it pretty clear in the on-pitch interviews that he was off. So cunning old Fergie makes an offer, Tevez rejects it as expected, and the fans blame Tevez for turning his back on United. Mission accomplished Sir Alex.

  • Comment number 85.

    Looking at the Man U squad now it seems alot weaker with no Tevez / Ronaldo and the old boys like Scholes and Giggs wont be able to play as much. It gives the rest of the top 4 alot of encouragement.

    I think Fergie was banking on all the stars of the game wanting to sign for Man U but they seem to be heading for Spain!

    Man U may end up buying lots of squad players / less well known players instead of big names as the big names wont come!

  • Comment number 86.

    "Did you speak with David Gill, Alex Ferguson, Ronaldo and Tevez personally or do you just believe every simplified or overblown tabloid media report?"

    Or, indeed, statements from the club itself?

    "Following contact received from Carlos Tevezs advisors last night, in advance of the deadline the Club set for concluding negotiations, Manchester United announces that Carlos will not be signing a new contract with the Club.

    The Club agreed to pay the option price of £25.5m and offered Carlos a five-year contract which would have made him one of its highest paid players."

    Simplified and overblown, though, can't argue with you there.

  • Comment number 87.

    Nice Blog Phil. Think Alex has pulled off another masterstroke here, Valencia is very good at what he does, taking on his man and creating space for others. He is not an out and out goalscorer, but he can easily assist 10 - 15 goals a season.

    Can't see who's going to stop Man U getting 4 in a row. They are just a level ahead of the rest of the Premiership at the moment.

  • Comment number 88.

    No. 21 JAGOMUFC wrote:
    Are Manchester United the official scouts for real Madrid!!?? i see now they have Benzema......great, If fegie wants him, we should get him....
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    That's exactally what I was thinking. it seems that any player that ManU have or after Real Madrid want (this must be how they can splash so much cash, they don't empoly any scouts). Perhaps utd should go for a right duffer then let Real Madrid spend £40 mill on them.

  • Comment number 89.

    Hope...he doesn't turn into another Bent.

  • Comment number 90.

    Quoting the people who bought him, and then the chairman of the club selling him, is hardly objective. Of course Paul Jewell said he was a great talent when he signed, how many managers say "well he looks handy, lets see if he can contribute". Of course Steve Bruce liked him, thats why he gave him a contract, and absolutely Whelan is going to tell everybody how great he is, because Wigan are a selling club, and he wants a lot of money for him (which he has now got).
    Lets hear some quotes and facts about the boy. Lets talk about his actual stats, goals scored, assists, completed passes. Those numbers dont lie, and they are not fantastic.
    A lot of people will say, "well he was playing for Wigan, so the stats wont be great", which is rubbish. Look he is probably one of Wigans best performers over the past two seasons, but his pace is not "electric", his crossing is actually pretty average (and for an electric winger he doesnt have that many, because...he likes to cut inside and shoot!) he doesnt score many goals, his goals to shots ratio is below average for a midfielder in the Prem. He is no better than Jermaine Pennant. Indeed watch out for Wigan buying Jermaine Pennant as his replacement.
    The best player in the Wigan team was Wilson Palacios, and Harry Rednapp scooped him up in January. I think United would have been better off with Palacios actually, given how weak and old they are in midfield.
    I am expecting this guy to stink the place out, and be gone within a year.
    ( I will reveal my cards now. Liverpool looked at him very seriously last summer, however while he "looked" like your archetypal right wing/mid talent, his stats simply didnt add up to him being any more productive than Kuyt, in fact less so. I have a friend who works at the club, on exactly this type of stuff, he told me this last summer, when I was badgering him as to why we were not buying him! The interesting thing is that Valencia was worse this season than last!)
    Luckily for United fans, and not for Liverpool fans like myself, he is merely the appetiser....the main course is still to come.

  • Comment number 91.

    " At 2:20pm on 01 Jul 2009, dmrichkt wrote:
    Jermaine Pennant in disguise(Valencia). Marca claims Benzema has signed but L'OM commercial director says that the story is 'without foundation'. An offer of over 30 million has been confirmed but he refuses to name the team whose offer has been accepted. In Marca, it claims Benzema's agent has confirmed that it's Real Madrid. Depends, Do you believe the Frenchman or the Spaniard? An age old question."

    Nice to see the old colonial attitudes haven't died out, I suppose you would believe a Prime Minister perhaps over a Spaniard any day hey?

  • Comment number 92.

    #87 Lexata

    Can't see who's going to stop Man U getting 4 in a row. They are just a level ahead of the rest of the Premiership at the moment.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    They won the league by 4 points last year, effectively goal difference the year before and these were seasons when they had the world player of the year on board!

    I'm not going to make any predictions but 'a level ahead' having just sold their best player seems a little over the top to me.

    I'm not going to deny the success that Man U have had but they seem to have a weakening midfield and a lack of width at the moment.

  • Comment number 93.

    TorontoRed

    You have hit the nail on the head here
    His stats etc do not add up to how good he 'looks' when he is on the ball. Great style, class with not enough end product.
    The real question is: Can Ferguson and United increase Valencia's 'effectiveness' on the pitch??
    Well obviously Freguson believes yes to the tune of 16m....but can he improve him enough to justify that price tag? The hope is that playing in a team that spends more time attacking and les time defending than Wigan - he will contribute more.
    Your email has set Kuyt as the benchmark, which is ideal cos he was brilliant last season.
    If he becomes as effective as Kuyt was last season United fans will be delighted!
    If not, your mate was right

  • Comment number 94.

    Ronaldo leaving undoubtedly leaves a gap in the goals department! However, I think this makes Man U less predictable. Ronaldo drew so much attention that at times the other players lazily waited for him to do something special, which didn't always happen (Champions League Final as an example).

    Valencia breezes past players down the line and is a great crosser of the ball. Which will in turn create more goals for others. Berbatov especially will greatly appreciate and take advantage of these crosses that Ronaldo rarely provided! A bit like the Beckham to Van Nistelroy link up of old.

  • Comment number 95.

    Valencia is, what Id like to think, the perfect signing a team like MU could make at the moment.
    Hes no where close to ronaldo, yes, but Id prefer having a team that arent champions, rather than a team of egoistic individuals.

    I sincerely believe, my personal opinion though, MU should take advantage of the clause in rossi's sale to villareal, besides it is in accounting terms more of a long term loan than a genuine sale because they still have the right to buy him back. Plus, I think we need some one who can provide cover for hargreaves, possibly toulalan who's a regular french int and would come for descent money.

    Finally, fergie knew ronaldo was going last season, for a potentially huge sum, and my take is, hes already found a replacement in tosic and llajic.Expect an orthodox 4-1-2-1-1 formation next season(ive just tested it on PES 09 against Real with their "new" players, turned out quite well), and a bigger role for tosic, valencia, nani and park, though I may be wrong

  • Comment number 96.

    Utd. doesn't play in english archetypal fashion so Valencia a typical right winger will have to enrich his versatility and creativity.
    A new signing is a must and that is Frank Ribery a player that can perform in most midfield and attacking roles with great success. Now that Benzema has possibly signed for RM, Frank is without doubt the one that can adapt best to style of play, PL and CL requirements.

  • Comment number 97.

    northcountryboy182 post 81
    United are Real Madrid's feeder club?? Ha ha. Do you actually follow football? We let them have playersthere's a difference. And we let them have players because they were problematic or past there sell-by date - RVN (rubbed up Fergie the wrong way); Beckham (fell out with Fergie and was replaced by the current world number 1 - not really missed in the grand scheme of things); Heinze (loved by fans for a period but unreliable and completely dispensable - we're better for letting him go). Ronaldo is probably the only departure that was out of Fergie's hands. And, to be fair, £80m for a player who will never replicate his best season and doesn't want to play for your teamgood business. Man Utd lives on and has continuous heritage. Real Madrid have been a team full of has-beens that like to play 11 strikers on the pitch for the last several years - hence the fact they win f.a.! I doubt bringing in some more ego maniacs and throwing them into a big melting pot that is incapable of defending is gonna help their situation much. I'd love United to face Real Madrid in the Champions League next season and batter them senseless! We're the better team regardless of how many 'Galactic*cks' they bring in. Chelsea tried it, now they can't win anything. You need integrity, solidarity and continuity. That's what we have in abundance and that's why we will always be successful.

  • Comment number 98.

    5. At 12:27pm on 01 Jul 2009, DevilOfRed wrote:
    I have a horrible feeing this will be our only signing this summer :(

    The only other players worth signing are Villa and Benzema - and neither of them look like they're coming here!

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Have to disagree, there are plenty of players out there good enough for Utd.
    Real Madrid alone have and are apparently willing to sell Schneider and Van der Vaart. Either or both Would slot in very nicely for Utd.
    Silva from Valencia would also be an excellent signing.

    I'm pretty happy with the Valencia signing. He was always going to be leaving Wigan and now that he's signed for Utd thats a big plus. I expect big things.
    I think Utd definitely need another central midfielder, either of the Dutchmen I mentioned above would be excellent, and possibly even another winger.
    I like Park a lot, but I think he just doesn't have quite enough going forward. Will have to see what happens with Tosic and Llelic (sp?) as they could turn out to solve the problems on the wing, but who knows eh.
    Up front, will Welbeck play more this year, or Macheda, or both?
    Will Alex think another big name striker like Benzema, or if he's looking to leave Barca, maybe even Eto with the promise of Champs League football would swing it rather than the lure of the mega bucks.
    It will be an interesting summer, but I think we should be there again in May still in the title race.

  • Comment number 99.

    You already have the equivalent in Nani...

  • Comment number 100.

    agree that valencia seems exactly like pennant in disguise to me, quick n has a great foot but rarely uses it how it should be.. valencia bares all the same hall marks

    as for the comment above about united needing a world class midfielder, n naming pirlo as that guy...

    i really wouldnt lump at that, ball playing midfielders are NOT wot united want or indeed need at all. what united NEED is a ball winning midfielder, gattuso, masc, essien... some1 in the same mould. they have yet to replace roy keane, scholes is getting too old now, n was never a tackler by even the kindest of reviews, hargreaves isnt either, regardless of what is thought of him, even if he comes back, those knees have been so dogy that if u wer in the same position would you really go all out for a fighting tackle in midfield like the 3 i mentioned earlier? no, n niether will he. carrick just cant, n fletch for all his running, is neither world class or good at it, yeah he can mither a nest of rats at times, but he cant compete against the world class!

    a huge amount of money should be spent, on 2 players, a striker and a defensive midfielder, world class ones, ones that signal an intent... especially as u have just lost ur biggest player and the worlds best (currently). benzema, no matter what it took to get him would signal intent, u should be unveiling pennant... ooops valencia, AFTER a major buy. the self styled biggest club in the world loose their biggest asset n they have a huge chance to show the world that they can compete with madrid for the best players n they go for the ecuadorian... either there is nothing out there to buy, or they havnt got the pulling power they once thought they had

 

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