One of the good ‘comeback stories’ so to speak at Manchester United this season – particularly at the end of the season – was the return to form of Anderson.
After a wretched season last year due to injury problems which impacted on his performances on the pitch, Ando improved as the year went on and ended the season on a high.
Around this time last year, Ando’s future at the club didn’t look bright as there were rumours of him wanting to leave the club in order to play more regularly and try and force himself back into the Brazil side.
For someone still only 23 years old, United fans always expect alot from our players. Perhaps after Ando’s first two seasons at the club, we expected perhaps a little too much from him and perhaps he too found it harder on the pitch in order to keep up his performance levels that won us over early on in his spell.
There were rumours of a switch to Spain for Ando last year with both Panathinaikos and Valenica reported to be interested in him.
It’s fair to say that some United fans at the time were quite open to him moving on and that after his reported ‘row’ with Sir Alex Ferguson – which allegedly got him a week’s fine – it would probably be best for all parties if he did depart Old Trafford.
Then perhaps came probably the turning point in not only his United career but his life as well. Last August, Ando was involved in a potential life-threatening car crash in Braga, Portugal.
Although he was not at the wheel in the crash, it was clearly a ‘wake-up call’ that our Brazilian midfielder needed, to get his so-called ‘party’ lifestyle into check and to focus more on playing football.
As the season wore on, he started to play more and began to pick up his form leading up to the New Year. There was even a first Old Trafford goal for our number 8, to earn us a draw at home to Valencia in the Champions League coming of the back of a good performance.
It may have only been his second goal for the club but for him it was an important one in getting the ‘penny’ of his back at not having scored a goal at home for us. The goal also secured us first place in our group ahead of the Spainard’s who would have finished above us had they held onto their lead.
Exactly a week after the Valencia game, it was announced that Ando had signed a new contract up until 2015. This was a sign that he’d won over Sir Alex again and that his United career really was getting back on track.
One of the criticisms that people have had of Ando is that he doesn’t score enough goals and barley even tests the opposition goalies when he has the chance too. There’s no doubting that he does have shooting ability as during his time at FC Porto he was renowned for his long-range shooting.
Whilst at times his finishing has been somewhat ‘comical’ to United fans in that time after time he would drag a shot wide or barley make any good contact with the ball at all, it’s something that he clearly needs to work on to improve.
Getting into good areas as a midfielder is vital and whilst his defensive side of the game appears to be in good-order (never coming under question), it’s vital that when he can get into an area to potentially score he can do that.
Perhaps though up until the end of the season where he scored 3 times against Schalke (2) and Blackpool at Old Trafford, the fact he’s been deployed more in a defensive role has limited the amount of chances he’s got on games.
The way he scored those goals in the final stages of the season showed that alike all Brazilian midfielders’ he does have an eye for goal and does have the right movement to break into the box to score. It’s just up to him to improve this side of the game as he can obviously only get better which everyone connected with the club will want to happen.
I have to say I was pleased that Ando ended the year well. Despite not coming of the bench in the Champions League final last weekend, he is defiantly another player who will be looking to improve for us next year again.
It’s vital for his progress as a player that he does now kick on, not only in terms of trying to gain a regular starting place at United – but also to try and get one for Brazil.
Sadly due to the competition for places for Brazil, sometimes fans of the national team will only consider a Brazilian any ‘good’ if they are part of their team. That of course is ludicrous, but Brazilian fans have high standards.
Of course Midfield is an area where Brazil have had no problems with as in the last 20-30 years, they’ve had an endless list of midfielders on hand to call from. Surprisingly perhaps in the last year or so Liverpool’s Lucas has become a regular for Brazil.
Whether we’d like to acknowledge it or not, Lucas is a player who has improved over the last year and particularly in our last two defeats at Anfield he’s played well.
He looks like he might be turning around his career too, though at only 24 years old perhaps there was too much expectation on his shoulders as well. There’s no doubt that Ando is not a better player than him, in fact he’s got more ability and potential to become a permanent starter for Brazil.
If Ando can continue to improve as a footballer and become the all-round midfielder that we’ve wanted him to be since he joined us in 2007, then there’s no reason why he can’t become a permanent starter not just for us but for the Samba Stars as well.
By Adam Dennehey – @ADennehey87