Antonio Valencia: The Man Who Never Stops Running - News and More

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Thursday, 30 March 2017

Antonio Valencia: The Man Who Never Stops Running

Antonio Valencia puffed out his cheeks after scoring the clincher at Middlesbrough on Sunday.

And well he might. At a time when fatigue has proved to be a concern and an issue for Manchester United, in the wake of such a taxing schedule at home and abroad, the Ecuadorian defies belief with his performances.
He was virtually playing in two positions at the Riverside. It looked like a wide midfield role akin to the one where he first sparkled at Old Trafford when United had the ball. Without it, he dropped closer to the right-back role with Eric Bailly shuffling inside to make a trio in the middle alongside Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
Jose Mourinho explained afterwards it was with a view to ensuring Valencia only had to run "50 metres and not 100 metres" all the time and that change certainly reaped dividends in the end.
As has often been the case this term, it was all rather fluid but there was no doubt, when it was all hands to the pump in closing stages, that Valencia was being asked to be perform on the right of the defence. With the home fans behind them, Boro threw everything at the Reds but the South American was not happy to merely protect the 2-1 advantage.
With the clock about to tick into the 94th minute, on the back of outstanding and aggressive performances against Chelsea and FC Rostov earlier this week, the rampaging wide man was not thinking of hacking the ball away and taking a breather. He charged down that flank one more time, for yet another lung-busting run, only for Stewart Downing to intervene and knock the ball back to Victor Valdes.
So, what did Valencia do next? Turn around and attempt to get back into position? Allow himself a moment to catch his breath? No, he kept on running, as he always does, and put Valdes under pressure. The former United keeper misjudged the ball and slipped, presenting the Reds star with a simple task of advancing towards an empty net and claiming his first goal since January 2014.
The easiest goal he will ever score? Far from it. To get to that point, to show that much energy in the dying embers of a third game in six days, and the earliest of kick-offs to boot, proved what Antonio Valencia is made of.
The 31-year-old is adored by his manager and team-mates, who feel he's the best right-back in the world, a "beast" and a "machine". His quiet demeanour off the pitch means he does not always receive the credit he deserves. But Valencia is in red-hot form right now and his fitness levels are through the roof. If this was a time to rightly feel tired, nobody told the outstanding former Wigan man.


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