At top clubs, there aren’t too many fringe players who will have had a ‘legendary’ moment at a club. In other words, very rarely do players not regularly part of the first team squad have a moment that will perhaps ‘immortalise’ them for that specific moment forever.
At Manchester United currently we have one such player – who whilst not even being guaranteed a place on the substitutes’ bench at the moment – has a special relationship with the fans after being involved in an ‘unforgettable’ moment at the club.
Federico Macheda (or ‘Kiko’ to the majority inside Old Trafford) is that player. He may have a great career ahead of him (hopefully at Old Trafford), but it could be argued that whatever he goes on to achieve in his career nothing is likely to match his late-winner against Aston Villa back in April 2009.
For pure drama it was a fairytale story that not even Hollywood writers would even think about making into a film.
Even by their standards, it would have seemed unlikely that a 17 year old Italian kid in our reserves, who a vast majority of our fans would never have heard of, would go onto score such a dramatic winner in a vital game in our season.
On the morning of the match, to be brutally honest I had only heard of Kiko’s name mentioned a couple of times before. The first of those occasions was when we signed him from Lazio and some of the media were ‘criticising’ us for buying yet another talented youngster from abroad.
The second occasion I heard of Macheda was in the week running up to the Villa game, where I remember they mentioned Kiko’s hat-trick away at Newcastle United in the reserves on Sky Sports News.
Of course when United fans found out that Kiko was on the bench for the game most fans were surprised, but very few of those would’ve imagined that he would have had such a big part to play on the day.
Martin O’Neil’s side played well on the day and went into a 2-1 lead shortly after time when Gabriel Agbonglahor headed home a John Carew cross. Moments after Macheda was brought on for Nani and quickly got himself into the game.
Ronaldo of course got us back on level terms with 10 minutes left and then we know what happened next, when as our no.41 scored one of the finest debut goals Old Trafford (and possibly English football) has ever seen.
Again if you just want to re-live it (and hey why wouldn’t you as it was a great goal), here’s a video for you to enjoy featuring Martin Tyler’s brilliant ‘yelp’ as the ball went in.
Getting back to my original point of the article – since that fantastic winner, our young Italian has had perhaps unfairly more expectation on his shoulders than most young players at the club.
That expectation is that some fans perhaps might have expected him to have achieved more than he’s already done at the club as that goal perhaps might have been a ‘poisoned chalice’ for him.
Of course with the quality strikers at the club that we have already and the competition for places in all competitions, it’s been hard for Kiko to have got a regular run in the team.
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez’s form has also affected Kiko as have a few injuries which have left him along with Danny Welbeck at the bottom of the pecking order of our current strikers ahead of the new season.
It shall be interesting to see how much playing time he gets for us this coming season. Just like Welbeck, at this stage in his career Kiko needs to be playing regularly or at the very least be involved with the team to continue his progress that we all want him to achieve.
A loan move to a fellow Premier League club perhaps wouldn’t be a bad option for him and the club as it would be a great chance to see if Kiko has what it takes to be a long-term success in England.
Somewhere like West Brom (for example) wouldn’t be a bad option to send him out on loan as Roy Hodgson’s side play a good style of football and they are a club who could do with a striker or two to compliment Peter Odemwingie up front.
Whatever happens at United this season, the progress of Macheda could be an interesting sub-plot this season. There’s no doubt he would have learnt from his time out on loan in Sampdoria and if you believe the quotes that have been going around, he defiantly wants to stay and fight for his place at United and impress Sir Alex Ferguson.
The next season is likely to be the make-or-break season for Kiko which will decide his future at Old Trafford.
If he does well in his limited appearances for us or out on loan, he might be involved in our squad for 2012/13. If he is again on the sidelines and doesn’t do well out on loan, then a move back to Italy is probably on the cards.
Only time will tell how his upcoming season will go, but whatever happens Macheda will always be a name that the United fans will remember, that can be sure as no-one will ever forget his winner against the Villa.
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87