Before we get in to this, the comparison between Cristiano Ronaldo and Antonio Valencia isn’t supposed to prove who is the better player. Ronaldo was bought for £80m the same summer Valencia was bought for £16m, it’s all to obvious who the better player is.
However, it is interesting to see how Valencia is getting on at filling Ronaldo’s boots, a task the media said would be impossible. Given that he had a scoring record of just 7 goals in 89 games at Wigan, it seemed beyond comprehension that he would be able to leave any mark on what Ronaldo had achieved with the club (just as it was unimaginable that United could challenge for the title without CR9).
In Cristiano Ronaldo’s first 26 games last season, he scored 10 goals.
Goals in the league:
2 against Stoke – 12th
2 against Hull – 17th
2 against West Ham – 9th
1 against West Brom – 20th
1 against Bolton – 13th (penalty)
Average position: 14th
Assists in the league: 2
Goals in the League Cup:
1 against Boro – 19th
1 against Derby – 18th in the Championship
In Antonio Valencia’s first 26 games, he’s scored 7 goals.
Goals in the league:
1 against Bolton – 18th
1 against Everton – 11th
1 against West Ham – 17th
1 against Wolves – 16th
1 against Wigan – 15th
Average position: 15th
Assists in the league: 5
Goals in the Champions League:
2 against CSKA Moscow
When you consider that Ronaldo had much more freedom in where he played, straying centrally for much of the season, Valencia hasn’t done too badly at all. You have to remember that this is his first season at the club after making a big step up from Wigan, and that he strictly plays on the right.
There are areas of his game that he can improve but he’s younger than Ronaldo and joined the Premier League three years later. So far, so good.
To get some perspective… Frank Lampard has scored 1 more league goal than Valencia this season, but 5 of his 6 goals have been penalties. Steven Gerrard has scored as many leage goals as Valencia this season, but 2 of his 5 have been penalties. Benayoun, Anelka and Kevin Doyle have scored as many goals as Valencia. Milner, Ashley Young, Lennon, Wright-Phillips, Duff, Deco, Steven Ireland and Ballack have all scored 2 goals or more less than Valencia.
Pretty good for a player that was written off at the start of the season.
“Most of the media looked at us losing Ronaldo and viewed it as being crucial and that we wouldn’t be nearly as good but there is only one point difference from last season,” Ferguson said before our 5-0 win over Wigan. “Cristiano was an unbelievable player. It was inevitable at some point he was going to leave. We have adjusted to it. Antonio has done well and his development has been good. The good thing about him is that he is as tough as boots and has great stamina and speed. He’s a quiet and shy boy and I don’t think with his personality he would be interested in trying to outmatch Cristiano. He has been unaffected by the position he is playing in. He enjoys that position. He can play other positions but we have not tested that yet. I know he can play centre midfield because I watched him play there and we know he can play through the middle and I have also seen that. But we think he is important to us the way we play. We like to have width in the team and he is doing that very well.”