Small pitch, so what? Valencia says Man Utd determined to avoid FA Cup upset

Antonio Valencia has insisted that Manchester United’s mentality will not alter ahead of their FA Cup fourth round clash at Cambridge United.

Louis van Gaal’s side, currently sat in fourth place in the Premier League, travel to the 8,000 capacity stadium on Friday evening to take on the League Two outfit.

And though the compact surroundings of the small ground are in stark contrast to Old Trafford, Valencia is confident that a possibility of a cup upset will not affect United’s star-studded squad.

“For a footballer, the setting doesn’t matter, we are Manchester United and we have to go to win – that’s it,” the Ecuadorian told MUTV.

“You just want to go out there and do your best, and that will be our mentality at Cambridge.

“It doesn’t matter if the stadium is impressive or not, we have a job to do and we’ll take it seriously. Our mindset has to be the same as usual.

“We train hard and then make sure we get the rest in so that we’re ready. The level that the opposition play at doesn’t affect our preparation.”

Valencia has been in impressive form this season, with his versatility allowing Van Gaal to employ him in numerous positions in both defence and midfield.

The 29-year-old has been a mainstay in the United first-team since arriving from Wigan Athletic in 2009, and he has enjoyed the chance to thrive under the Dutchman.

“I enjoy the attacking side of the wing-back role,” he continued. “I like driving forward as I always have a lot of options in front of me and I enjoy the fact that it’s hard work, too!”

The Reds have alternated between an experimental 3-5-2 set-up and a more traditional 4-4-2 in recent weeks, though Van Gaal has been questioned for his use of Angel Di Maria as a forward.

But the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach has explained that Di Maria has been used in an advanced role in order to stretch the game.

“He played in the 4-4-2 in the left midfield position, but in the 3-5-2 he does not play so much because he has been injured,” he said.

“Then he came back and I tried him as a striker because we also need pace in that position.

“We have to stretch the pitch – that is an important aspect of a striker, that he can stretch the pitch.

“Then you make the pitch bigger and your midfielders can play in a bigger space and play a better positional game than ever, so I tried that.”

Van Gaal also confirmed that the Reds would be without Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans for the cup clash, though Robin van Persie and Luke Shaw will be available.

Main image courtesy of bwin via YouTube, with thanks.

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