Does Anderson Have A Long-Term Future At Old Trafford?

I have always been a fan of Anderson, despite his inconsistent performances over his four years with us. I think sometimes our fans often forget that he’s still only 23 – younger than Darron Gibson and only a year or two older than Tom Cleverley – and is still evolving as a player.

When he arrived at Manchester United, he was dubbed as ‘The New Ronaldinho’ – something which perhaps pressurised a young 19 year old moving to the biggest club in the world.

At the time, when he moved with Nani, they were both dubbed Ryan Giggs’ and Paul Scholes’ long term replacements at Manchester United.  Nani is showing glimpses of fulfilling that promise. Anderson is not quite doing that at the moment.

He is a fan favourite at Old Trafford, proven by the jovial chant. He also has the personality that brings a breath of fresh air around Carrington. One of the stories that I remember about him from a couple of years ago is that he put a rat in Gary Neville’s locker in the training ground changing room.

However, Anderson’s inconsistency has seen him deployed in a number of positions in midfield, without making any of them his own.  Originally, fans thought of him as an attacking, goal scoring midfielder in the Paul Scholes mould.

His performances at Porto – before breaking his leg – drew comparisons to Ronaldinho, drawing a number of Manchester United fans into thinking that we were to see a skilful and creative player, especially after he was signed for a reported €30 million.

Sir Alex Ferguson quickly handed him the number 8 shirt – a shirt that had been shortly vacant after Wayne Rooney went from being number eight to number ten.  After two seasons, Anderson hadn’t been disappointing, but he had only shown glimpses of his immense potential.

Due to a lack of consistency, Anderson has been played as a central attacking midfielder, a central midfielder, a holding midfielder and even a left midfielder on the odd occasion. I think his long term position is an attacking midfielder, but until he shows that he deserves the spot, he will not be given it.

Anderson really started to show some good form midway through the 2009-2010 season after being given the chance by Sir Alex Ferguson to really prove himself to the Old Trafford faithful. 

But injury set him back that season and not long after returning from a spell out, in a match against West Ham, Anderson suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament in his knee, forcing him to sit the rest of the season out.

What would probably do the world of good for Anderson would be to play regularly. You only have to look at the improved form that Nani has showed over the last 18 months to that playing on a regular basis can bring out the best in players.

Mike Phelan speaking about Nani’s improved form spoke about how ‘the penny’s finally dropped with him’ and perhaps the same has happened with Anderson who after signing his new contract mid-way through the new season put in much improved performances.

Another thing Anderson has to improve is his goal scoring, if he is to be given the attacking midfielder position. Putting his penalty in the Moscow 2008 final to one side – Anderson had to wait 2 years before his first goal for United, which came at White Hart Lane in 2009.

He has shown his free kick taking ability in a pre-season friendly against Boca Juniors two seasons ago, but every time Anderson shapes up for a shot, it doesn’t fill me with much confidence as most of them are not very good.

Saying that though he did score twice at home against Schalke in the Champions League semi-final last season and even got a goal on the final day of the season at home to Blackpool.

I really hope Anderson is given the chance to prove himself at Old Trafford and I would think he would be. However, I think the next season is make or break for ‘Ando’ – as he is known in the dressing room – as with the emergence of Tom Cleverley, Ravel Morrison and Ryan Tunnicliffe, his chances for the years ahead could be limited.

I do see a future for Anderson, he just needs to want it enough to make it happen. Whether he is used as a creative midfielder, a box to box midfielder or a holding midfielder, he has the potential and he just needs to realise that and work hard to fulfil it.

By Daniel Pond – @danielpond1995