Weekly Report: V for Valencia and Zlatlan’s Record

by Luke Bradshaw

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

He’s played against the very best in the world for years, yet Ashley Cole will not have had a harder afternoon’s work than he did at Old Trafford last Sunday. For the last decade, against the best the Premiership, European and International teams have had to offer in the shape of right wingers, he has more often than not, dealt with consummately. Antonio Valenica however, was a different opponent all together.

The worth Sir Alex Ferguson has in him was optimized by his selection against Chelsea in the team’s most important game this season thus far. The left hand side was always going to be shared by Park and Giggs interchanging; in big games, both play, simple as that, and they proved why – not that it needed proving. Valencia however, should still be relatively groggy after a lengthy lay-off, and yet he took to the field, with Nani – in his best season ever, and by some way – warming the bench.

It paid off. Valencia was aggressive, energetic, imaginative and ruthless. While very few, if any, Chelsea players really showed up, Cole had a torrid time. It may be difficult to single out Cole, and to be honest that’s not what this is. Cole didn’t play particularly badly; he didn’t get a chance to play at all. I honestly cannot recall a single player beating Cole repeatedly in the way Valencia did.  With a rest and decent pre-season he could start next season really purring.

So does Valencia et al condemn Ancelotti to pastures new? Well Jose Mourinho remains the only Chelsea boss of Abramovich’s tenure to survive a summer after failing to win the league, and he went three months into the following season. Ranieri, Grant and Hiddink (although he would be welcomed back) departed. Scolari didn’t even see March. It is difficult to predict whether this short shrift will continue with Carlo.

What Abramovic expects is what Ibrahimovic delivers: league titles. Zlatlan has his detractors; I wouldn’t go as far as to call myself one, but would I want him in my side, probably not. What can’t be disputed is his record. The last eight years have brought about five clubs in three countries, but more importantly brought eight league titles: eight in eight.

Titles have been dished out all round Europe. Zlatlan’s eighth came with AC Milan, and boy did they celebrate: here and here. Barca have confirmed what we have known for some time now with there 21st La Liga title. Pep Guardiola is on the hunt for Zlatlan’s record with three titles in his first three years of top level management. Dortmund almost won their title before their winter break; for my generation seeing the garish yellow shirts back in the CL will be somewhat sentimental. It’s a young, exciting team and I wish them well.

Favourite thing this week: Quite a nice graphic portraying pretty much what goes through every fans mind.

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