By James Johnson.
Anderson Luís de Abreu Oliveira joined Manchester United in 2007 to much excitement. This excitement grew in his early displays for the club especially against the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool. The Old Trafford faithful even gave him his own song claiming he shits all over Cesc Fabregas.
However as time has moved on Fabregas is the Arsenal Captain and regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world, whereas Anderson struggles to maintain a first team place at United and that song is looking to be as wide off the mark as possible.
When he joined Man United, Anderson was an attacking midfielder and was seen as the heir apparent to Paul Scholes. Youtube videos showed him taking people on and running the game from the centre of midfield and even included a couple of goals. So what has happened since?
Last week’s games against Newcastle and Everton showed the two sides of the player to the extreme. Against Newcastle Anderson was sluggish, giving the ball away far too often and to top it off he was hauled off after 70 minutes. Then in a game that United needed to win to edge towards a record 19th league title, Anderson was arguably the man of the match. His passing was crisp and accurate, his bursts through the middle created chances both for himself and his team mates, and for only the 15th time in his United career he even managed to last 90 minutes in the league.
Inconsistency, many will say is an expected side effect to having young players in the team. However Anderson isn’t a teenager breaking into the first team, he is an international footballer who has been at the club for four years. There have been snipes at his perceived weight problems, ridiculously so in all honesty as he clearly isn’t fat, but there is no denying that his fitness is close to appalling for a professional footballer at one of the biggest clubs in the world. More often than not he is simply unable to continue playing after the 65 minute mark.
His shooting has become a running joke to supporters, and in that regard he makes Darron Gibson look like Rooney. Far from it to be me who suggests what millionaire footballers get up to in training, but it seems highly likely that he hasn’t worked on this aspect of his game, nor has he on his fitness levels. In fairness to him, he has had injuries which at times take a while to recover from but when you compare him to Valencia who looks like he has never been away you must question his work ethic.
Anderson isn’t a bad player, nor is he at this time a very good player, he is average bordering on promising. But for a player who was brought in for a large fee (admittedly not his fault) and who has been at the club for a good length of time he is not doing enough.
Comparing him to Nani is slightly unfair as they clearly are different players, but bear with me. Both arrived at the same time, both had games where they looked top class, other times they were poor. Nani however after being spoken about as a player who was on his way out of the club, pulled his socks up, worked harder than ever and should have this season been named the Premier League Player of the Year. He improved all aspects of his game, shooting, crossing and even the discipline when defending. He is now playing in the Portuguese national side and is a vitally important player to them. In the same time frame Anderson hasn’t improved one aspect of his game, his passing is still good and is his main attribute and he can take a man on at times. He has played for Brazil but not since 2008.
Whilst most of the blame must go to Anderson, as it is him of course playing, Fergie does deserve a mention here. When he joined the club he was an attacking midfielder as mentioned previously, however Fergie seemed determined to make him into a deeper lying playmaker type, in the style of someone like Pirlo or indeed Scholes. However, as good as Anderson’s passing, it’s not up to the levels needed to play that role and as a result he has suffered.
The next eight months are make or break in my opinion for Anderson. He should be given a chance in the summer to get in the best shape he can and given a good run of games next season up till January. If by this point he hasn’t made a significant step forward in his game, the club should cut their losses and sell him, and use that money towards a midfielder who is capable of performing to the required level week in, week out.
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