The problem with Anderson

In June 2007 we launched a huge surprise by signing the highly rated Porto midfielder Anderson.

Expectations were high due to the potentially high transfer fee (though should the transfer fee reach its potential, the expectation will become somewhat of a self fulfilling prophecy), and after a false start Anderson really kicked in against Wigan in October of his virgin year and cemented his first team space.

Highlights of his first year saw him thoroughly outclass Cesc Fabregas and Steven Gerrard on every outing against them and (obviously) winning the double. Towards the back end of the season Ando saw less and less first team action amid rumours that Sir Alex was growing annoyed with his party lifestyle.

Where before he was the number one choice to tackle illustrious midfield opponents, Fergie opted to not even give Anderson a minute of the European semi finals against Barcelona, a squad place for the title clincher at Wigan and he had to make do with a cameo in the Champions League final (even though he made a significant impact, scoring a vital sudden death penalty).

However Anderson had recovered from a broken leg just before he joined United and most fans gave him the benefit of the doubt.

There was a nice story regarding Anderson’s Olympic jaunt with Brazil – during a training session he was sung to by some United fans who were present (the Agadoo song) and he went over and asked them to sing the song to him because he didn’t know the words. Clearly the actions of a player who was feeling the love, the adulation of a club who had instantly warmed to him.

His return from the Olympics saw him thrust into the lineup hours after getting off the plane – dodgy barnet and all didn’t stop a man of the match, typically bombarding performance at Fratton Park in August.

Since then, though, there seems to have been very little to shout about – it’s not that Anderson has been awful, but he has certainly been erratic with form, and while I’m not singling out one player for the Derby disaster, it was Anderson’s worst game for the club since he established himself.

The effort is there, and the quality obviously is. To me it boils down to one of two things.

Is he trying too hard? A couple of times on Wednesday I saw him try over elaborate short passes and while this exuberance is typical of his game and it shouldn’t be taken away, I do have a concern.

Secondly, is he suffering from somewhat of a confidence crisis? You wouldn’t think it to look at him playing, and in all fairness, he has played a starring role in some of United’s better performances this season – including the major role in probably the goal of the season so far, where he played 4 one twos on the way to laying on a goal for Carlos Tevez against Blackburn in the Carling Cup.

Ah, there. Part of the Carling Cup squad, marginilised from the first team this season. Maybe that’s it?

I don’t think it’s a terminal decline, possibly a little case of the second season blues, but your mind starts to worry when you see stories linking him with Inter Milan.

Perhaps he’s the major casualty of Fletcher’s impressive start to the season and he’s struggling to find form?

One thing I hope we don’t do is lose faith with him. Part of a young group of players that include Ronaldo, Rooney, Rafael, Fabio, Nani and Possebon, I still believe that Anderson has the potential to be one of, if not the, best player in the world. More importantly, I want to see that in a United shirt.

What do you think?


19 Comments on The problem with Anderson

  1. i agree with what you’ve said, he’s been left out the side lately and sometimes not even on the bench which i find odd. i think sometimes he tries to play too safe, and instead of driving forward and using his speed (when he looks best) he’ll sit infront of the back 4 and just pass around. i think if he was playing with carrick, who would naturally sit, it would give him the freedom to pick the ball up off carrick or the wingers and make things happen thru the centre.

  2. United have a lot of midfielders and this season already has been a long one with trips to Japan etc. Fletcher and Park stepped in at the start of the season due to injuries and their good form, and they deserve to keep their places. If your dangle the carrot to say to player “you play well you keep your place” you probably have to keep your word.

    When it comes down to creative substitutes not many would look at a youthful Anderson ahead of the experience of Scholes and the now-central Giggs. Next season we will see the (re-)emergence of Anderson, Fabio, Rafael, Nani and Tosic to replace the older players. Also, as united have won most of their games 1-0 this season with second half goals coming after the hour mark, it’s no surprise to find Fergie using the older lads ahead of the aforementioned kids when he looks to the bench. 1-0 can be lost very quickly, and at 0-0 experience is essential to breaking the ten men behind the ball mentality that “world Champions” have to play against. Fergie, unlike Rafa, seems to know how to rotate his team to win leagues (and keep his cool….). it’s a long season and it’s only just warming up.

  3. I too think that he has gone off the boil lately and agree that he has the potential to become world class. The one factor that everyone seems to miss or be totally oblivious to is the fact that he is probably the most one footed player in the league. If you watch closely he nearly never uses his right boot. If he has made it so far with one foot imagine the possibilities if he had two.

  4. Article spot on…there are a number of midfielders but one of the problems with lack of goals is the contribution from midfield and sometimes poor quality of service to forwards. I like Anderson as he shows enthusiasm and gets stuck in…My view.. maybe controversial.. is that United are missing Carlos Queiroz… for coaching and language skills.
    It feels all the time like United are playing for the next game.. and cant quite get going into 1st gear. I think Michael carrick has been the best midfield player so far this season.. and hope that someone else can step up to the mark. The Derby game shows there is still plenty of work to be done. Hope that Ando is the one… he needs a goal!

  5. I agree that Anderson could become one of the best players in the world. Not because I support United – but because he has qualities that are extremly valuable and are essentially unique.

    He has this low center of gravity – partly due to his height and because of how he runs – making him a very explosive player. His pace is frightening, which when coupled with his skill makes him a great prospect.

    My biggest concern is that I am not sure where I would play him. Personally I think he needs to work hard on his timing into the box and shooting (he does have a rocket but often scuffs it for United). If he masters those arts then yes, he could be truly world class and possibly one of the best players in the world.

  6. I agree with Ian we do seem to be missing Queioz. Look at all the under perfomers this year tevez, nani anderson, ronaldo all sunny boys that Carlos related to the best. Also look at who ferguson has turned to… fletcher, o shea, park.. these three not up to the mark. Fletcher is a headless chicken who loses the ball and players like kids with marbles, o shea is average and park is dud, have you noticed his curved runs so he doesn’t intercept the ball, have you seen him shoot the other two in this group are giggs and neville, quality but vastly diminished. Unfortunately when we play 3 from this 5 we greatly weaken the team. Many times this year there have been four of them and they just do not gel with the four mentioned above. Even the proven ability of our core.. evra, vidic, ferdinand, carrick, scholes, rooney and berbatov cant make it work because usually then only five of them are playing, ie 5 core 3 duds and 2 off form… no wonder the shite are top of the league.

  7. He’s like two different players….inside our own half and the centre circle he is a dominating central midfielder who spots a good pass, plays strong on the ball and does everything right

    in our opponents final third he is useless, can’t shoot, can’t play the killer ball – makes the wrong decisions

    this second part of his game (the bit he was signed to do) will hopefully come eventually with maturity and some wise words from someone he respects

  8. i think anderson would come good soon but he needs games to prove himself..although i think there should be someone to replace Scholes..maybe that young kid from Leeds whose worth 10 mill pounds could prove himself..united also seems to lack wingers nowadays..we need someone with the pace like the old Giggs..someone like Stewart Downing maybe? or Quaresma? I also think that Tevez have to go if were offered 30 million for him..we already have rooney running around to support Berbatov..Tevez and Rooney are quite similar u know in their style of play..with the money we could buy a real quality player to pump up the midfield..just my view from a united fan

  9. Ian – totally agree about Carrick being out best midfielder this season, he’s really sorted out the confidence problem he seemed to suffer at the start of 07-8.

    Pdm -you make some interesting points. However if we win against Chelsea and win our games in hand we will go top, would that change your view? I happen to agree with your point in general – specifically that when playing O’Shea and Park on the left we have a major weakness, but I do think Fletcher has earned his spot (though not so much as late, perhaps it’s time to give Carrick and Anderson an extended run).

    Giggsy09 – as replacements for Giggs, we could have done worse than go for Quaresma, but Inter got in there first. I don’t rate Downing and I reckon Giggs could probably outrace him now!! Remember Sir Alex has spent around £7m on this Tosic fella and he seems to be a really direct, fantastic dribbler of the ball. It will be interesting to see if he has the confidence in his own ability to transfer that to the PL.

  10. No doubt about it Anderson is a very highly potential individual,all he needs is time and with the kind of quality Manchester United has he certainly is good but just overshadowed by the likes of Ronaldo and the rest of the gang. But one thing is for sure,as soon as those goals start coming from him,he will even be motivated further to become a better and one of United’s greats from this current group of United’s youth…. It just is that people expect too much from anyone wearing a united shirt especialy when they come from countries like Brazil with all the skill and quality such places are known to produce…… He is the most ideal candidate to replace Paul Scholes when his time comes to hang up the boots and moreover he possesses similar attributes and even better with time…. It only takes such potential to be a target for sir Alex and believe he is very good to have been bought.

  11. I totally disagree, Ando has been one of our best players his season. I think that anyone who disagrees can only have been watching the game from TV. His perfomances are consistently dominant and his assist rates are rising, all he needs is to pop in with a goal. However with Berba Rooney Tevez and Ronaldo we shouldn’t be needing the midfield to supplement too much, they need to be holding, battling and creating the chances. The reason for his recent absence was a trip home for Christmas – we’ve got a big enough squad Fergie is just avoiding fatigue. The only player needing to be shown the door is Nani.

  12. I think the problems lays with him playing way too deep in my opinion. He plays too close to the defence whereas he should be playing just behind the front 2!

  13. Dont blame Anderson alone because the three clowns Gary N, John Oshea and Scholes were the culprits. Two seniors were slow and lack of pace and ideas and Oshea was totally lost. Why was Pak and Carrick not included in the starting line up.Moreover Rafeal and Fletcher were also not included. Please as fans we want only the best players to be in the team not the oldies and the worst player Oshea.

  14. I think Anderson is a superb young talent that has an excellent start to his Old Trafford career. The only think he has failed in is hitting the back of the net, to be honest – i’m not to concerned with that. He isn’t an attacking midfielder, even if that was where he played a large of his game at Porto.

    The boy can defend, track runners and create from deep. He has a superb engine and can break through the midfield drawing players into him. He has had a limited playing time this season but remember he is only 20 years old. Being were already writing Ronaldo off when he was 20 – I think Anderson had the potential to become one of the best midfielders in Europe – or should I say all round midfielders.

    Fletcher has been brilliant this season – i’ve always been a fan and with the emergence of Carrick as the best passer in the Premier League (regardless of what Liverpool and Arsenal fans say about Xabi Alonso and Cesc Fabregas) – competition is fierce at Old Trafford.

    I think Yolkie has demonstrated a good argument as to why Anderson isn’t pushing on to that level that we all know he can. He wasn’t great against Derby but then again who was? Also, credit to them – they pressed us high up the field in groups when possible and then counter attacked effectively when United had the ball in front of them.

    Anderson will be a brilliant player for this club and I think Fergie is going about the right way with him.

  15. I think his problems are confidence and a too strong desire to prove himself, but he is only 20 and just needs time to find his game.

    When it comes to first team chances, the form of Fletcher and Carrick haven’t helped him.

  16. Anyone calling Neville and Scholes “clowns” should never ever use the words “we” and “fans”. Go play FM and sell everyone for having a bad game.

  17. I’m sorry but I fail to agree with somethings you have said, e.g. how in the last few months he hasn’t played as much this is due to Fergie sent him home for a break with Nani as they musn’t have seen much of their family over the holiday period. He’d been a consistent performer and has shone when others have failed to. The confidence will be brimming once he has scored his first goal so don’t hate,appreciate we have such a great talent within our team

  18. I think your concerns are correct but maybe its down to the fact that he is being ‘moulded’ into an all round midfielder – tough battling, energetic, picking out killer passes, driving forward as well as carrying out defensive duties. I think he’s been great since he came and yes… he has been off the boil a bit lately… BUT when you look at the youtube videos of him prior to United isn’t it obvious he operates best as an attacking midfielder bombing forward and tearing defences apart. Its obvious he can take a man on and his dribbling skills are excellent so why doesn’t fergie tell him to do exactly that – yeah he may lose the ball a few times when trying it but it’ll add another dimension to our game and I’m sure will get him closer to that first elusive goal!!

  19. Pascoe thanks for commenting – I just want to say that as far as appreciating Andersons talent, I’m probably the biggest champion of this player on this site.

    I do stick by my opinion that he’s been inconsistent this season but believe me, I certainly don’t hate. It serves no purpose and as I have said, I believe he can go on to be the best in the world.

    I think if anything he’s suffering from second season syndrome which he’s perfectly entitled to – maybe even a hangover from such a major impact after a recovery from a broken leg in his last few months for Porto, too.

    If he didn’t score a goal in his entire career at United I wouldn’t mind as long as he played as consistently as he did last season.

    obradee – I agree with everything you say. He has been a revelation since he joined United and I think part of my frustration is the eagerness to see him move to the next level. He dominates most games he plays in, with maturity will come better use of the ball.

    One thing is for sure, I’m certainly glad we have a player with his immense potential at Old Trafford.

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