Ole - Valencia's a dream
OLD Trafford can look forward to some special deliveries tomorrow night. The Reds welcome back David Beckham 'home' and if the United legend plays for AC Milan you can be sure some trademark deliveries to service Ronaldinho and Co. After the six-year Cristiano Ronaldo era, Sir Alex Ferguson has installed the nearest thing since Beckham to uncomplicated right winger in the shape of Antonio Valencia. Ronaldo stepped into Beckham's boots in 2003 when the England star switched to Real Madrid. It was a special period, with the Portuguese wizard producing many moments of majesty and a phenomenal goalscoring record. But his time in the number seven shirt was different to that of Becks' pinpoint crosses and the assured service for Reds strikers like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Dwight York. Beckham's last time in action at Old Trafford for United saw him score and he was instrumental in one of Van Nistelrooy's hat-trick goals against Charlton in a May 2003 4-1 win. Dream Now Fergie has revived the unfussy art of the right winger in Valencia. The £16m Ecuadorian, bought from Wigan last summer, has been the source of the bulk of Wayne Rooney's headed goals in recent weeks. Rooney remains doubtful for the last-16 second-leg clash against the Italians but the Valencia factor can still play an important role for the Reds. Solskjaer profited from the Beckham link for seven seasons and United's reserve boss believes Valencia has the weaponry to recreate that service on a consistent basis. "Antonio is a striker's dream. He is also a manager's dream," Solskjaer told M.E.N. Sport. "He works hard and he does his bit defensively. He doesn't just do the flash bits. He keeps the team shape when he doesn't have the ball and attempts to win it back. "He has something special because he has pace and he has a delivery. I can understand the comparisons between Becks' service and what Antonio is providing now. The work ethic of both players is the same. Their first thought is to put in a dangerous effort for the strikers to feed off. "Just like with David, you know when Antonio is going to cross the ball. He doesn't dilly-dally, as soon as he can, he is going to cross it. He puts his head down and you know it is going to come in. "It is just what you want. You can get that half-second ahead of a defender because you can make your move early knowing the virtually where the ball is going to end up. It gives you a great advantage. "Wayne Rooney will be experiencing that now. You get a little feeling about where the ball is going to go. You get to know your team-mates and you know what they will do when the get the ball. Wayne knows exactly what Antonio's first thoughts will be. Strong "Wayne has been hitting it off with Antonio recently. And whoever has been up front will know that they can expect a ball in that will cause defences problems and you give an edge. "As a striker you want to find space. That is your best friend in the box. So to find that space you have to have an understanding with those putting the crosses in. You have to have a strong inkling about what they will do. "When I played with Becks I knew him inside out. I knew when he got the ball his first idea was to put the ball in the vicinity of whoever was playing up front. "Becks didn't think about doing something special for the crowd. He just wanted to deliver the ball in efficiently and for one of us to score a goal. So many of my goals came from an assist from him. "That is just what Antonio is doing now. It is great to see him finding his feet here and Wayne more than anyone is benefiting. "Wayne has always been a team player. But now he can see that we need goals. As a striker you smell goals and he is maturing into a goalscorer." Though Beckham is now close to 35 and had a quiet match in the first leg, Solskjaer warns he could still produce something at Old Trafford to threaten United's Champions League quarter-final place. "Becks is always a danger. He will be massive threat tomorrow," added Solskjaer. "In open play you know he is going to get four or five chances in a match to put a great cross in. If you have a striker who is alive then there is danger."
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