Man Utd Focus - Time for Anderson to ignite Old Trafford career
Manchester United midfielder Anderson put in an excellent half hour as a substitute on Saturday against Queens Park Rangers, showcasing the ability that he possesses. The Brazilian has been guilty of inconsistency throughout his Old Trafford career to date, but has the opportunity to ignite his time at the club and lay claim to a central midfield berth.
Sir Alex Ferguson lauded the impact of Anderson at the weekend, coming on with his side trailing 1-0 and little over half an hour remaining. "I thought Anderson changed the game...he was terrific," enthused the manager. Within 12 minutes of his arrival United were 3-1 to the good, as Anderson provided a fresh impetus to the home side in addition to an excellent assist for Javier Hernandez's decisive third goal.
Anderson is now in his sixth season at Old Trafford, but is yet to reach his full potential in a red shirt. He has put in some excellent performances during this time, but the regularity of these has been the concern. To be fair, injuries have at times derailed promising runs in the side and contributed to his low number of appearances for the club. In his first five years at United, the central midfielder only played 83 Premier League games.
Now 24, Anderson must seize his opportunity to establish himself in Ferguson's starting lineup. Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs are approaching the end of their careers, while Darren Fletcher is unlikely to be able to consistently play twice a week. Michael Carrick is the manager's preferred choice to guard the back four, which usually leaves one space in his team for a box-to-box style midfielder.
Tom Cleverley and Anderson are currently the strongest candidates for this role, although the promising Nick Powell is looking to put himself into contention in the long term. Anderson has the attributes required to be an influential player at the heart of the United side, but faces a challenge in order to not fall behind his teammates in the pecking order.
The former Porto and Gremio man has the ability to drive his team forward through aggressive pressing and strong running on the ball, added to competent linkup play and passing. He is also not short of confidence, as he showed in his debut season at the club. Anderson was brought on in the last minute of extra time in the 2008 Champions League Final against Chelsea to take a penalty in the shootout. He duly converted. He also scored the winning penalty in the 2009 League Cup Final.
Any criticism of his perceived lack of fitness was addressed in the aftermath of United's third goal on Saturday, as Anderson lifted his shirt to reveal his torso. His goalkeeper on the day, Anders Lindegaard, proclaimed the Brazilian is "one of the best players in the world at running with the ball, passing it and keeping a dynamic motion." The assist for Hernandez certainly backed up this claim.
The attributes are there for Anderson to firmly establish himself in the United team. His promise has so far been unfulfilled, but the opportunity is now there to ignite his Old Trafford career.
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