Manchester United: Why Anderson deserves more playing time
When Manchester United and Porto completed the transfer of Anderson in July 2007, big things were expected from the 19 year old Brazilian, especially with a hefty price tag of £20 million. The lad obviously had talent, as it’s not very often that Sir Alex spends a large sum of money on someone unproven, and only at the age of 19.
However, after helping Porto secure the Portuguese Championship in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, Anderson had a case for his price tag and to play for the current English champions.
Coming into his 6th season at the club, Anderson hasn’t been able to reach his 100th appearance in all competitions, being stuck by injury left, right and centre. There has also been plenty of criticism about the Brazilian’s physique. However, the beginning of the Brazilian’s Man United career, and the beginning of the 2011/12 season showed glimpses of Anderson’s true talent, linking well with Tom Cleverley in midfield, helping Manchester United secure a string of great victories.
His speed, power and vision can make the vital difference in the final third. His performance against Tottenham springs to mind mostly; nonetheless he picked up another injury soon after, and struggled to break back in to the first XI during the remainder of the season.
Before this campaign started, there was the usual transfer rumors linking Manchester United with a new central midfielder, with many feeling Anderson’s time at the club was coming to an end. I for one have had doubts whether he could perform at the highest level.
He gives the ball away far too much in such an important position of the pitch, and as an attacking midfielder, he just doesn’t seem to score enough goals. So when the transfer window had ended and he remained at the club, I knew it was going to be his make or break season.
Anderson spoke to MUTV about the season ahead, and he knows better than anyone that now is the best time of them all to reproduce some of the sterling glimpses from his early United career: “I need to prove what I can do. I know the boss and my team-mates believe in me. I’ve just had bad luck. I want to improve as much as I can and help the team win trophies”.
Now thirteen games in to the 2012/13 season, he has stepped up to the plate when called on, producing some dazzling performances in the red shirt, starting with his performance in the home win against Fulham and bagging a goal at home against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup.
Again, another fantastic performance in the Cup at Stamford Bridge, bagging himself 3 assists in one game, was all the journalists and even Sir Alex could talk about. There are finally hints of the true Brazilian coming through now, injecting a whole new dimension in the Manchester United midfield. This is why every single Manchester United fan was begging for him to brought on in the frustrating match at Carrow Road. Criticism of Sir Alex not bringing him on early enough was all over Twitter and newspapers, and for once, the fans and journalists were actually correct.
Once again, a losing Manchester United side were struggling at home to a QPR side sitting on the bottom of the table. A very static Manchester United midfield of Carrick and Fletcher was the obvious problem, the fans once again questioned Sir Alex’s team selection.
However, once Anderson was brought on, the whole game changed, with his pace and power injected into the game showing in a brilliant 15 minute spell from the Reds with Anderson bagging one assist, 2 key passes and a 94% pass completion rate in the 30 minutes he was on the pitch.
The ‘new’ Anderson coming through this season definitely deserves more respect then he has ever received, and is arguably the man to solve the problems Manchester United are having in midfield. That is, if he gets the deserved minutes of course. Yes, you can argue he is injury prone or slightly overweight, but there is no denying he is a class player when in form.
One thing I think many fans have forgotten, even the United fans, is that Anderson is only 24 years old. If he manages to stay fit and injury free, I am sure he will hit his peak in two or three years to come, perhaps be among the best midfielders in Europe. Fergie knew what he was doing when he bought the youngster for a substantial £20 million pounds, and the best of Anderson is still yet to come, granted more game time and the respect he fully deserves.