I too am guilty of raising the subject but with good reason, as United fans we are used to having serious quality in the middle of the park at all times but with Scholes and Giggs not being able to play week in week out, Anderson’s inability to get a good run of games together affecting his form and Carrick, Fletcher and Gibbo’s indifferent performances it is something that will be of concern.
Park flew off to the Asian Cup in a fine vein of form and we hop he can return in the same but the person we are most looking forward to seeing back in red is Antonio Valencia.
The winger was one of our best performers last season running up and down the right wing and his presence appeared to bring out the best in Wayne Rooney too so to say we have missed him this term following his freak injury against Rangers back in Spetember is a huge understatement.
One can only salivate at the thought of having him and Nani or Giggs patrolling the flanks and the affect it will have on our goal scoring as well as what it will do for us defensively as Valencia was no slouch when it came to defensive duties so his reported return at the tail end of this month/start of the next couldn’t come sooner.
But whilst I am looking forward to his return I can’t be the only person with apprehension?
For the injury he sustained (fractured and dislocated ankle with ligament damage) 5 or so months seems a relatively short recovery time especially as the initial time was closer to a year so are our expectations for his return a little high?
Alan Smith suffered a similar kind of injury and despite being out for 7/8 months claims that he felt he returned too soon and experienced problems. I have read the snippets of news regarding his return with anticipation like everyone else and the decision to stay in Manchester instead of going back to Ecuador as well as the use of NASA technology may be building up unrealistic expectations in people’s heads.
There have been reserve games and the FA Cup tie against Crawley mentioned as games to ease him back into his groove but realistically I wouldn’t expect to see him anywhere near his best until April if at all this season. As we enter the business end of the season it would be great to have an on form Valencia in the team and I genuinely believe had he been fit this season the gap between us and the chasing pack would be wider but I don’t feel we should rush him. Even if a February date has been declared for his return, I like everyone would rather he takes as long as he needs to return rather than throw him back in now because even if he is physically ready there are other factors such as fitness as well as his psychological approach to games that will affect his performances (look at Eduardo who also suffered a horrible break).
I look forward to his return as much as anyone and look forward to seeing him playing at his best even more. I acknowledge there is a difference between the two and that there may be some time in between both occurring.