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?