Manchester United have announced today that Nani has signed a contract extension to 2014.
I’ll be honest, mid-way through this season I felt Nani was on borrowed time at United. His form was poor, he looked lacking in self belief and he hadn’t shown any real improvement during his time at United. If anything Nani had gone backwards since his arrived at United. With the injury picked up against Wolfsburg in the Champions League and the disparaging words directed towards Sir Alex Ferguson a summer move seemed a certainty.
This season was always going to be a defining season for Nani. With the departure of Ronaldo it was time for Nani to step out of Ronadlo’s shadow and to stop trying to emulate his fellow countryman. I always had the feeling Nani was in awe of Ronaldo, that he was trying to be like Ronaldo rather than be his own man. Am I wrong to think this?
Could Nani make a wing position his own? Well, I didn’t think so until February.
Nani’s change in fortunes started when he was selected as a right winger. We saw a different Nani, a Nani not trying to beat the same man several times before delivering a disappointing cross. Selected as a right winger we’ve seen Nani beat his man, whip in a dangerous cross and visibly seen his confidence grow with each improved performance.
Has the criticism levelled at Nani been fair? Admittedly his performances have been poor; however Nani has played the majority of his games on the left hand side which is not his preferred position and weaker foot. I believe playing on the left lead to indecision in Nani’s play, which gave the impression Nani’s decision making, was poor – he didn’t know the correct time to pass, shoot or cross.
With the superb form of Valencia on the right, it would be difficult for Nani to oust the Ecuadorian. Nani would have to revert to playing on the left; I was wary of this and felt for Nani. I hoped Nani’s new found confidence would allow him to express himself just as he did when playing on the right. Thankfully Nani has continued his good form which has seen a high class assist for Wayne Rooney to score his second goal against AC Milan at Old Trafford.
With a large transfer fee the expectations of Nani have been high, however we sometimes including myself forget Nani is still a young man and is learning and developing his game.
I, for one am pleased with the contract extension. What do you think?