Individuality vs History: A Look at Antonio Valencia and Manchester United’s number 7

By Jared Mercer

It’s no secret. The number 7 jersey at Manchester United has been worn by many heroes, many legends.  George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham, and Cristiano Ronaldo being the best examples of the past four decades of legendary number sevens, but since Ronaldo’s departure, a natural phenomenon has yet to emerge as the bearer of the legendary shirt.

First there was Michael Owen, former Liverpool player, who spent most of his United career in the dugout or on the injured reserve, and scored a couple of memorable goals but nothing of real note. The highlight of his Red Devils career being a late winner against Manchester City in his first season, which was exciting, but was also about it. He now “plays” for Stoke where it is likely Owen’s career will fade into an end. The current man in red uniform to wear the number 7 shirt is Ecuadorian Antonio Valencia, who began his United career in 2009/10 wearing the number 25 jersey. While supported by the Old Trafford faithful, Valencia and the history of the old Man Utd 7 have not mixed.

Valencia is a true number 7 in the sense that he is a pure right winger who rarely leaves his role of hugging the side touchline. He was successful at doing so in his three seasons at Wigan Athletic. Scoring 7 goals in his three years at Wigan, he was not overly impressive but showed good signs of being a consistent Premiership performer. When Alex Ferguson snapped him up for £16 million, it seemed like a heavy price for a player of reasonable quality who had not made too much of an impact in England.

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AFR’s Top 10 Quotes from the Past 10 Years.

2000: ”He cannot kick with his left foot, he cannot head a ball, he cannot tackle and he doesn’t score many goals. Apart from that he’s all right.” - George Best on Beckham

2001: ”How are England going to win in Germany? It hasn’t happened for 100 years. I have no doubts whatsoever that Germany will quite clearly thrash England. They will easily qualify for the World Cup with this match.” - Germany’s Uli Hoeness ahead of the World Cup qualifier which England won 5-1.

2002: ”I would buy some bad players, get the sack and then retire to Cornwall.” - Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock when asked what he would do if he were manager of rivals Sheffield Wednesday.

2003: ”To put it in gentleman’s terms, if you’ve been out for a night and you’re looking for a young lady and you pull one, you’ve done what you set out to do. We didn’t look our best today but we’ve pulled. Some weeks the lady is good looking and some weeks they’re not. Our performance today would have been not the best looking bird but at least we got her in the taxi. She may not have been the best looking lady we ended up taking home but it was still very pleasant and very nice, so thanks very much and let’s have coffee.” - QPR boss Ian Holloway came up with the quote of the century to describe his team’s lacklustre performance against Chesterfield. [Video- inthestands]

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