Paul Scholes chips a ball out wide to the right. Antonio Valencia—the £16 million winger from Wigan, brought in to replace Cristiano Ronaldo—settles it, then launches a beautiful cross into the box. On the end of another perfect Valencia cross is striker Wayne Rooney, who calmly heads the ball into the goal for yet another goal scored from his head.
This scene happened often during Manchester United's 2009/10 campaign. Many people attribute Valencia's beautiful crosses to being the reason as to why Rooney suddenly became deadly with his head.
However, this season has started much slower for Rooney, with just one goal in all competitions so far, and with the goal coming on a penalty kick.
Much worse for Manchester United happened on Sept. 15 in a Champions League match against Rangers, though, when Valencia went down with a broken leg. The play was so gruesome, replays were not even shown during the match.
Fears immediately went out that Valencia's season would be done. A friend of mine who went through a similar injury said it would take at least a year for Valencia to even be remotely close to the way he was. While Sir Alex Ferguson has come out and said Valencia could be back by February, it is safe to assume that this is wishful thinking and that United will be without him for a long time.
These are nine players, with one imported option, who need to do a good job stepping in and replacing Valencia if United are to continue to compete this season.