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A lookback at Anderson's 8 difficult years at Manchester United

Saurabh Patel
1.59K   //    05 Feb 2015, 18:43 IST
Anderson impressed everyone from the outset.

Midfielder Anderson has left Manchester United on a free transfer and signed a four-year contract with Brazilian side Internacional. The 26-year-old spent seven and a half years at Old Trafford after joining from Porto for a fee of around £26m in July 2007.

Sir Alex Ferguson, who signed Anderson, identified him as a possible successor to Paul Scholes and he was a first-team regular for his first four years at Old Trafford. Anderson was loaned to Italian side Fiorentina in January 2014 after making only three appearances for United under David Moyes. In total, he featured 179 times for the club and was a member of the side that won the Champions League in 2008, scoring a penalty in the shootout victory over Chelsea in Moscow.

He also netted the winning penalty in another final shootout, as United overcame Tottenham to win the League Cup in 2009. In his time at Manchester United he won four Premier League titles, the Champions League, two League Cups and the Fifa Club World Cup.

Anderson started his football career with Gremio and moved up the youth ranks quickly. He was instrumental in their promotion to the Brazilian Serie A and in the following summer transfer window, he moved to Porto. Impressive performances for Porto earned him a place among the world’s most wanted young footballers. Manchester United finally managed to grab him for a large sum.

The incredible potential

In his initial matches, Anderson emerged as the fans’ favorite as in his first start against Arsenal he outplayed the Arsenal pair of Cesc Fabregas and Matheu Flamini and a month later matched Steven Gerrard at Anfield.

United’s fans loved his fearlessness, the way he stood up to Gerrard in front of the Kop, and the way he strolled exuding confidence and fearlessness when substituted in the final minute, running down the clock on a 1-0 victory. “Anderson was terrific, he wasn’t intimidated by Steven Gerrard.” Ferguson pronounced. He was the one of the few youngsters Ferguson ever trusted, evident from his handing Anderson a penalty strike in the champions league final against Chelsea in Moscow and the Carling cup final against Tottenham.

Injuries and more injuries

Then what went wrong and where?  It was possibly at the time when Anderson came to Old Trafford. At Gremio and Porto Anderson had always played as a attacking midfielder but when he arrived at United, Alex Ferguson transformed him into a defensive midfielder sending Anderson’s attacking mindset downhill. There were games when Anderson was better than anyone else on the field but such games have been few and far placed between relatively mediocre games.

He fought back from three career-threatening injuries, a bad leg break during his Porto days in 2006 and twice at United when he ruptured his cruciate in 2010 and injured his knee one more in 2011. Anderson also endured assorted niggles, minor hamstring incapacitations that restricted his playing time and gradually his playing style which was initially dominating, withered out.

Also, Anderson was always found struggling due to injuries and due to his lifestyle,  at one point of time became too obese to be a top league football player. Rumours that he had developed a taste for fast food abounded. In Manchester, with its abundance of restaurants and Curry Mile, he was not short of options.The joke even found its way inside the club. Patrice Evra was spotted telling Rio Ferdinand that he brought him his burger at one o'clock.

Frequent injuries were the major cause of Anderson’s downfall.

Anderson had great moments and great games but never great seasons. He was unable to play in the same dominating style week in and week out. He was unable to cope with the demands and rigors of the premier league and other top flight competitions. Internacional have to play him in an attacking role if they are to derive the best out of Anderson. His best playing days will not be far behind him, that is if he manages to remain fit. He has had a pitiable career at Old Trafford but Internacional presents him the opportunity to resurrect his career.

On leaving United, the midfielder took to Instagram to say goodbye and wrote “Thank you so much to Manchester United. It is truly the best club in the world, I love it so much and have enjoyed every year I have spent there,Thank you to all the team who work at United and especially all the boys, I have made some amazing friends, all of whom are great players and will continue to do great things. And one massive thank you to all of the fans, for your continuos love.. The best.' [sic]

Here’s a video of his best days at Manchester United :