#116 Could it be Magic?
Having huffed and puffed their way to a 0-0 draw in the FA Cup, the boys reminisce about their favourite FA Cup replays before moving onto more current affairs. From Cambridge City to Darren Fletcher, we talk all thing red in this week’s Can They Score podcast!
An Ode to Anderson Luís de Abreu Oliveira
He’s gone… He’s really gone.
After many years of frustrating the masses of United fans around the world, the January transfer window finally saw our beloved Brazilian, Anderson, leave Manchester for pastures new. His destination? Florence and Fiorentina. To many this is a cause for celebration and mockery aplenty, however, I can’t feel anything other than a sense of disappointment for our Ando and his career at Old Trafford.
#79 Bye Bye Anderson?
Our first win of 2014, finally! During this week’s episode, the team look back on United’s 2-0 victory against Swansea before mulling over Anderson’s turbulent time at Old Trafford and Jose Mourinho’s desperate desire to get one over United after this summer’s snub. Be sure to listen to the podcast now!
Time for Fellaini to find his feet at United.
It’s hard to think of a more underwhelming major signing in recent times. The previous big splash of Glazer cash to have failed to hit the heights expected was Dimitar Berbatov; yet even he could always rely on a vocal band of admirers to fight his corner. Fellaini has had no such luck. Whereas the capture of the Bulgarian mercurial enigma (cliché klaxon ago go) represented a thrilling, logic defying pursuit of yet more attacking adventure, our Belgian acquisition is by contrast a depressingly sensible acceptance of functionality over flair.
Safe Yet Solemn, United’s midfield Struggled To Excite
If he were watching, Roy Hodgson might have described Manchester United’s 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace as a game of “high quality”, but he would have been alone in holding that opinion. Crystal Palace haven’t given the impression that they will stay up too comfortably, and continued that form here. For the most part the south-Londoners failed to show even brief glimpses of quality, and were particularly sloppy with the ball in their own half.
MUFC Class of 2013: End of Term Report: Midfield
Due to Tom’s busy summer schedule, other writers from the Can They Score team will continue the MUFC class of 2013 end of term report. With Chris snapping up the easy job of rating the forwards in the team, I, Frenchy, have been left with the nightmarish duty of evaluating and grading Manchester United’s rather lacklustre midfield.
I have evaluated every player who made a minimum of ten appearances over the season. For each I have followed a standard school report format: identified what I considered a realistic objective for the start of the season (OBJ), identified what went well (WWW) and even better if (EBI). Each player has also been graded. The judgments are based on performance against expectations and in no way should be considered a hierarchy of ability.
Why Anderson Could be a Makeweight for James Rodriguez
Anderson’s exit from Manchester United has long been on the cards, but the midfielder’s recent admission that he could return to his ‘roots’ could see the Premier League leaders step up their interest in Porto midfielder James Rodriguez.
A possible loan deal back to Porto has been mooted, but both player and club will be keen for any move to be permanent.
Anderson has suffered a succession of injuries during his time at Old Trafford, but a collection of poor form, lack of goals and inability to keep the ball has seen the early appreciation of the Brazilian midfielder’s energy and drive quickly dry up.
The player himself has publicly admitted that he has “tried to leave [the club] several times but never managed it”, whilst rumours of a move to Brazil are also steadily increasing.
Anderson has been quoted in Portuguese paper A Bola, as saying that “Porto are the only club I would consider moving back to Portugal for… my past is there” and a return to the Estadio do Dragao could provide the hard-working midfielder with an outside chance of making the Brazil squad for the 2014 World Cup, should he be able to stay clear of injuries.
Manchester United are likely to recoup less than half of the £20 million fee that the Red Devils paid for the Brazilian midfielder back in 2007, but Anderson’s impending departure could help improve Sir Alex Ferguson’s long term pursuit of Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez who has once again excelled in the Liga Sagres.
Rodriguez followed up his title-winning performance of 13 goals in 20 games last season, with eight goals in 17 appearances this time around, as the Dragons once again battle Benfica for the Primeira Liga championship.
Nicknamed ‘El Nuevo Pibe’ by former Colombian great Carlos Valderrama, Rodriguez has been likened to former Manchester United player Cristiano Ronaldo with the player’s dribbling ability, ball control, shot power, creativity and overall speed drawing comparisons.
Rodriguez won the Primeira Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year award last year and the 21-year old is thought to be open to a move to the Premier League leaders.
Sir Alex Ferguson is keen to reengineer his attacking line for next season following the January acquisition of Crystal Palace prodigy Wilfried Zaha and Portuguese winger Nani is another who could leave Manchester United in the summer.
After being priced out of a move for Gareth Bale last season, Sir Alex Ferguson may use the extra Premier League television money to secure a deal for long-term target James Rodriguez, whether Anderson can facilitate a move back to Porto or not.
Anderson’s Injury Writes an All Too Familiar Script
Manchester United’s bizarre victory at Reading, on Saturday, was very much in keeping with the clichéd script they have been writing this season but another sub-plot followed a far too familiar story. Anderson, United’s go-to man in recent games, scored a belter before hobbling off in agony clutching his hamstring.
It’s a sight United fans have become frustratingly accustomed to. Anderson has blown hot and cold since his arrival in 2007 from Porto, and frustratingly for United, it’s often been the latter.
His highest number of appearances in a season have been in his first two – 38. It has been a downhill path from there. He made just 23 appearances in the 09-10 season followed by 30 in 10-11 and a measly 16 last season (thankfully no United fan wants to recall that..).
He has been burdened, not encouraged by the expectations placed on him at Old Trafford. United have been crying out loud for a midfield enforcer since Roy Keane’s unceremonious departure and Anderson was pencilled in as the perfect replacement. Never a player of the Keane mould, Anderson was nonetheless a player who could assert his authority in midfield as he showed during his two seasons with Porto where he had a free reign in midfield- a role he cherished. Hard-work has always been part of his game but it has been very difficult for to sustain a place in United’s ailing midfield.
It took him an incredible 78 games to register his maiden United strike (a left-foot cannonball at White Hart Lane), perhaps an indication of how things have gone for him since his move. He has 157 appearances to date for United, 3 Premier League titles, 1 European Cup and 1 League Cup, but how many of those games can he lay claim to have influenced?
Injuries have put the handbrake on his career, striking just when his form was about to reach its crescendo. He has been unable to turn that ripple into a wave, all hopes cut short before they could even begin to build. An early return from a serious knee injury last season was swiftly followed by a series of niggling injuries that sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Where players redouble their efforts in training to regain the sharpness lost after a prolonged period on the sidelines, Anderson seems to relish the time off. That Ryan Giggs completed the full 120 minutes at Stamford Bridge in the Capital One Cup while Anderson huffed and puffed before being replaced in the 2nd half was an indication of how far the buck as fallen for the Brazilian.
And just when performances (and consequently expectations) started to gather momentum, Anderson finds himself on the treatment table again. With a gigantic Manchester derby, one of the biggest in recent times, looming on the horizon, United could have done with their Samba star as the fulcrum of their midfield. Instead he’ll watch on from his now all-too familiar position in the stands on Sunday as United head into the lion’s den.