Manchester United welcome new signing…Anderson


It’s always exciting when there is a new signing at the club. This summer will be no different. Expect the same buzz and hype of anticipation around the latest recruit, a 22 year old Brazilian play-maker. I think we’ve met him before somewhere, his name is certainly familiar. He’s been tipped to make a big impact this season, I’ve no doubt he’s exactly what the squad requires. He’s a proven goalscorer (ok too far)! Introducing…Anderson

Every summer transfer window provides an opportunity for fans to discuss who the club should sign. At Manchester United, every signing must improve the squad in some way. Whether a player is signed as a replacement or as an addition, the expectations remain the same.

In the depressing post-World Cup days, Reds have come to the conclusion that a central midfielder is required. More specifically, a creative midfielder – someone who can play behind Rooney, run beyond Rooney, score goals and link play. Being Manchester United means that there will be transfer rumours linking us to every player who might be vaguely available. This summer it’s been Luka Modric, Joe Cole, Wesley Sneijder, Steven Ireland, Mesut Ozil, Mario Balotelli, Steven Defour, Alexis Sanchez…I could go on. Regardless of whether the club has the money to bring in a prodigious talent or not, my recommendation is from within the ranks.

Anderson is one game off playing 100 for United. He only turned 22 recently and I think for anyone his age, to have featured so much is some achievement. When he signed, three years ago a quick Wikipedia or YouTube search would have revealed that he was an exciting, skilful, goalscoring attacking midfielder – he was dubbed the next Ronaldinho. Against Arsenal in the Champions Leauge, whilst at Porto, he played in the number 10 role off a striker and stood out as a dangerm man in a team that performed poorly. Three years after signing, with one goal to his name and some crunching displays usually against Arsenal, the player I thought our club had signed has gone missing.

I find Anderson incredibly confusing. There is little doubt that he has a lot of talent. He is adored by a lot of fans. Yet, since his first season ended, he’s rarely had a run of games in the side. When he has, his role always seems to be slightly different. His form has been so up and down that the press love linking other clubs with our man.

Roll the clock back two years and Anderson had just completed his first season with Man United. The club was celebrating title number 17 and there was a famous night in Moscow too. Anderson had a central role in that first year, playing in two thirds of all league games – more of a contribution than I felt he’d make in his first year. He used his surprising strength and physicality to dominate and get on top of opposition midfielders. I expected tricks, flair and cunning. Instead I saw pace, power, strength and aggression.

The Brazilian press were agog to discover that Anderson was being played so deep and in the role so associated with Roy Keane. It’s not the Brazilian way. He’d never done it before and it meant that when in the national team, there would be a problem. He plays one way for his club and his country want to play him another way…you see the problem. However I believe the Brazilian press misinterpreted what his role truly was.

To describe the role he had in that first year is hard. I believe that was the year he played with most freedom. Although he was clearly told to play deep as a ball winner we witnessed one of his strongest assets that year – running with the ball. Picking the ball up, and driving with it is when Anderson can be at his most dangerous. I’ve picked out a few examples of this from his first year: vs. Roma, vs. Aston Villa, and vs. Liverpool. As I said, I felt he had freedom in his first year and here’s why – Paul Scholes was in and out of the team with knee trouble; Carrick was picking out the passes; Fletcher had a tough year and didn’t play much; and Hargreaves when used was the strict defensive midfielder. So whilst Anderson played deep, he didn’t have to stick to such a disciplined role – other more defensive players or players who naturally sit deep were often included alongside him, freeing him up. We don’t realise it because infamously Anderson didn’t score and we remember him bullying players off the ball, but he played high up the pitch a lot that season and was certainly encouraged to break forward.

So what’s changed? Various factors came together to reduce Anderson’s appearances and change his role. The key to a good Manchester United midfield is the combination of freedom and strict positional play. Whilst one midfielder has a job of winning the ball and passing it quickly; the other has freedom, time on the ball and the opportunity to float between the midfield positions. In Anderson’s first year, he was a floater. Hargreaves would be disciplined and sit allowing Anderson freedom, or Carrick would pass the ball from deep allowing Anderson to be the ball winner but with license to push on. In year two, Hargreaves got injured so one of the other midfielders would have to be a more disciplined midfielder. When selected, Anderson got this role. His strength in the tackle that emerged in his first year lead to his selection in this capacity in his second and third years. Gone were the days of running with the ball. Now we saw an Anderson whose job it was to win the ball and pass it on. Only on rare occasions did Anderson break loose and run forward such as against Blackburn in the league cup when he so unselfishly set up tevez for a hat trick.

The Anderson of season two and three is not the Anderson we want to see. Whilst other players around him are kicking on, he appears to be at a standstill. Rumours of bust-ups do not help. Transfer stories do not help. His lack of a defined role does not help – and this in particular is why I think he can be like a new signing this season.

Anderson needs a position. All his attributes suggest this should be high up the pitch. He is good on the ball. He is a fantastic user of the ball. He is strong. He is quick. He is skilful. However, I am aware that one goal in three years is not a good return. He has forgotten how to run beyond an attacker and he seems to have lost the confidence to shoot. He must learn how to be selfish – the video of his assist for Tevez vs. Blackburn that I linked before is a great example; he could of smashed that ball from 2 yards into the goal but he didn’t. He mustn’t be afraid of shooting, he must be more instinctive. If he is given an attacking role with a bit of freedom he will remember how to do the things that YouTube once taught us he could do. Fletcher can be the engine of the midfield. Carrick or Scholes can be the passer, the player who sets the tempo. Hargreaves (I live in some hope) can be a ball winner. Even Giggs can come in and be the deeper lying passer. We’ve seen that the formation that suits the side at the moment is the 4-5-1/4-3-3 yet according the media and according to fans we don’t have a player who can play behind the striker in the position we feel we need to fill. Well I say, we do. Anderson can be that player. He needs to be given a chance there. He needs the backing of the fans. He needs his fellow midfielders to work hard to create the space for him. If that happens we could be in for a real treat.

I am a big fan of Anderson. I don’t know if it is because I like his energy and the way he plays; the fact he is Brazilian; that he is incredibly funny; because the players clearly love to play pranks on him; or the novelty associated with an Anderson goal. He is clearly great for player morale – if only to make you laugh then here are some of examples: marching, being interviewed, another interview, and dancing. His energy and enthusiasm no doubt lifts the players around him as well as the fans. When he slammed in penalty number six in Moscow the fans seemed to respond to his celebration of running into the goal and kicking the ball again – he reinvigorates fans with his passion. When he is happy, the squad are generally happy. Importantly, when he is happy, he plays well.

Here at we like to back our players. We have always been ahead of fashions and trends; we backed Fletcher in July ’08, February ’09, and September ’09; and Nani in October ’08, January ’10, and March ’10. We even pushed the idea of playing a 4-3-3 in bigger games and amazingly, soon after, that’s what happened. We are rarely wrong here, sometimes our opinions and beliefs are unpopular at the time of writing but we are usually proven right. This year we want Anderson to become a key member of the team, he’s one of our favourites and there is no doubt he can go on to be recognised as one of the best players at the club. Anderson is going to receive our full backing – we believe in him.

My suggestion of playing Anderson further forward is not a new idea. I hear fans suggest it all the time, he’s even played been tried there a couple of times in cup games. I hope that when he is fit again at the end of September he will be given the opportunity to play in the way that I and many other Reds expected. His time out through injury at the moment will hopefully serve as a motivation for a positive comeback (a la Roy Keane who returned with a new determination after he was injured in 1997/8 and really redefined his role and career at the club). I want more of his first season, but higher up the pitch, he can become a key component in this side. At a time when money is tight, as Yolkie suggested, the best way forward may be to look within – hence when September comes and Anderson returns from injury we must hope he’s selected in this role and then we can welcome our new signing.

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25 Comments on Manchester United welcome new signing…Anderson

  1. Great blog, I agree whole heartedly with it, especially the premise of backing out players to succeed instead of getting on their backs when something they try doesn’t come off.

    One thing I would like to point out is that Anderson has never been a goal scoring midfielder. Anyone with any internet savy could’ve found that his only goal of substance was the goal that got his side promoted back in to the Brazilian top flight (i think it was Gremio). That being said, everything we’ve seen him do suggests he SHOULD be a goal scoring midfielder. And let’s be fair he seems to have to most poor luck, every time he sends in a stunning strike he comes up against an inspired keeper!

  2. . I really think Anderson will be great player for Manchester United. Problem is Anderson is not playing enough. When he plays consistently he will show his class. So please Fergie play he will be great same as Nani. Dont sell him but play him. PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

  3. Hi Nick, he actually averaged a goal every three games at senior level for Gremio and at Porto in what was only a brief spell found the net on three occasions in about twenty games (not great but he was 17 and had just moved to Europe).

    At Gremio he always played off the striker, and he was very much considered a goalscoring midfielder there. The goal you are thinking of his is most famous at Gremio as quite rightly it got them promoted (in a game where they were reduced to 7 men). I can recommend this video to you – – apologies for the poor quality but it has a few more of his goals on it.

  4. Couldn’t agree more, mate. That could be the signing of the season. I am a big fan of Ando, and we need to give him the support and chance he needs. I expect Nani-like U-turn.

  5. fergie tell that he this season will work with youngster and why not save andersona more one season he is 22 y. very young

  6. Good article, I was just thinking this the other day.
    I was watching a game from 07/08 and couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched Anderson dominating the midfield, striding forward and playing killer passes at will.

    He may have fallen out of favour with Fergie and some fans, but we can’t afford to just write him off. We paid a lot of money for one of the top prospects in world football so it’s time to get our money’s worth.

    I hope he follows Nani’s example this season.

  7. Cheers Doron,
    I hadn’t realised he’d scored as much as 1 in 3, I was under the impression he really only scored 4 or 5 goals through his entire first team career. That goal for Gremio was a good one, I remember seeing it shortly after hearing we’d signed him. It definitely had me expecting this goal scoring attacking midfielder. We definitely got something different. Despite that I do believe he can score, he’s got the technique and the energy, it’s just about composure in front of goal. Being good on a dead ball I imagine he’ll be taking left sided free kicks from Giggys in a few years when Ryan finally retires (if he ever retires…), so perhaps that’ll give him another outlet to put the ball in the back of the net for us.

    Either way, like the blog stated, as long as he gets the freedom to push on like he did in his first year then I believe we’ll see the best out of him again.

  8. “Anderson needs a position.”

    You can basically sum up the entire article with that one line. I and many others (including yourself, obviously) have said it before and it’s true. Dicking around with him before he’s even had ONE settled position just seems silly.

  9. Nice, well written article, and raises hope for something we would love to see next season. Will Andersn get the time and opportunity he deserves? Very difficult to see that tho…

  10. Gavin, if the club don’t sign an attacking midfielder I hope he will get the opportunity. Certainly SAF has always thought highly of him and with a bit of luck Anderson will work hard to leave SAF no choice but to play him!

  11. Anderson, at one point in his ‘illustrious’ United career, looked fantastic as a holding midfielder, the type of player you’d associate as box-to-box.

    It is difficult to analyse such a player (you’ve done a great job doing so), but his problem seems to be inconsistency. He can have a good game one week, but by the next he’s anonymous.

    And you’re right when you say he needs a position. I do think with Hargreaves’ fitness an ever-growing concern, that United should play Anderson in that deeper role where he can try to pull the strings much like Scholes did last year.

    Gabriele Marcotti, the Times journalist, told me the following in an interview done in January: ( )

    “Finally, based on what a United scout told me, the club really expected Anderson and Nani to be further along in terms of development at this stage.”

    Bear in mind, that quote was before Nani shone in the latter stages but with Anderson the problem remains. The quote seems to suggest that United have struggled with Ando and are quite unsure of how and where to play him, and that he has seriously underachieved in his three years at the club in their eyes – due to whatever problem, be it fitness, competition from team mates, whatever.

    Fantastic article anyway, certainly seemed to have made yourself at home Doron!

  12. Nameonthetrophy, I do hope you are correct. SAF was always saying that he saw Anderson as a natural successor to Scholes, and for me the way this squad is right now, I say lets go into the season with several promotions and let the lads learn together and become Champions together. Rafael, Macheda, Anderson, Nani, Evans I would make the lot of them regulars now. We have won together, we can lose together, I will sing their names despite what happens, but enough of relying on Giggs, Scholes and Neville!

  13. Yes. We all know how good and still believe he is the one we are missing in midfield. He is strong, quick, reliable. His first year was the best for me.

    The attacking midfield who can play so well. The 2nd and 3rd year, i think fergie shift him to be more of a defensive midfield which i think don’t suit him.

    Although Anderson is strong and powerful, i dont think that he is enjoying playing as a defensive midfielder which i think hurt his confidence.

    I hope this season fergie will let him play more and not changing his position too often. I think another factor that fergie shift him to be more of a defensive midfielder is because of his goal. He lack of goal is what i think makes him play lesser than the rest. But i feel that he brings more to the team than harm.

    I hope he can do a like Nani u-turn. I believe he is one of the best He is very skillful, holds the ball well and plays very nice passes. Looking forward to him holding down his place.

  14. Well, i watched this boy in the Fifa U-17 champs. in 05 and couldnt believe ma eyes.OMG,what a talent he was!..i hope he gets enough playin time this season so we can see what he’s really made of…Go Ando,..Go United,..Go Get de treble!

  15. Hey fellas,

    Arsenal fan here… I’d say keep hold of the lad, your scouts seem to find alot of great talent but they always seem to get sold, and become good elsewhere (forlan, pique, rossi…), before you lot give em a chance.

    To be honest, and alot of you won’t like this, I blame Ferguson, I mean the scouts do well in finding the players but whether it’s Fergy not trusting them in real matches or they just don’t preform in training but they never seem to get a run of games. I can already see Tosic becoming really good in a couple of years because he’s left, like Forlan and Rossi did.

    I truly believe it comes down to Fergy and his inability to trust alot of these guys. Look at Nani, given a good run of games last season and he became a v good winger that you can rely on (and he killed us at Emirates last year) but you nearly sold him for cheap last summer before you let Ronaldo go. You only kept him because Ronaldo left.

  16. Hi Dan,

    You may be onto something with Fergie there…but I’d always back the man.

    Sometimes the individual cases don’t stack up though. As you know with Cesc, was hard to keep Pique when Barca came calling (difference is Cesc has been in your first team for a while and is club captain). Rossi was a surprise departure but he left for good money and there was a buy back clause that did recently expire. Forlan…you can’t blame Fergie, we loved Forlan but he didn’t get enough goals and he did play a lot – delighted things have gone well for him though.

    Tosic was a strange case, signed for £7million, sold for £8million. His problem was he was so small and although he looked sharp in the reserves there was never a chance really where he could have been picked over someone else to start because he was still unknown in the first team. There was never a wide player injury crisis that meant he had to play – unlike times when Obertan was subbed on this year for example.

    It’s a mis-conception that Nani was nearly sold last summer…

    …Fergie has generally got it right. You are right in pointing out that there are some he probably should have kept given the chance but whose to say Forlan would have developed the same way if he’d stayed for example. If Fergie didn’t believe in Anderson he’d have gone already.

    Bringing youth through and sustaining success is the hardest thing to do as again I’m sure you can appreciate. At Man United the club is built upon giving youth a chance – and when you look at Rafael, Fabio, Evans, Gibson, Anderson, Nani, Rooney (to an extent), Fletcher (to an extent), Macheda, Obertan – add Smalling, Hernandez, Possebon, Cleverley, Corry Evans etc there are a lot of good youngsters in and around the first team at the club. Sometimes you do just have to move a few on

    Anderson won’t be sold (yet) but Fergie is the master of developing youngsters whilst keeping the trophies coming. Ultimately his record speaks for itself.

  17. Dan – I don’t think you could be further from the truth. Ferguson has always groomed and nurtured young talent throughout his time at Old Trafford.

    Beckham, Butt, Scholes and the Neville’s are the obvious choices, but before them – Sharpe, Giggsy, Martin, Robins. He brought Ince and Keane in (both under the age of 23). Ronaldo was only 18, same as Rooney. He brought Cantona, Irwin, Schmeichel, Evra, Vidic, Kanchelskis.

    He has an amazing eye for talent and can help create superstars – so I totally disagree with your theory and history proves it.

    Anderson has had bad luck since his impressive debut season, combined with apparent love for the nightlife. He has made a number of noises about joining Inter Milan and has obviously fallen out with the Gaffer in his time – as every player does.

    He is older, more mature (hopefully) and will be hungry for football again. His shooting was always an issue, however i’m sure Rene Meulensteen will have worked with him on this.

    I am a massive fan of the Anderson of 2007/08. Fearless, a pass and move player, ability to hustle and press the opposition. He can track players very well and his stamina allows him to burst through and create havoc after starting in a deeper position.

    With the other players you’ve mentioned – United got £7m for Rossi – a good price for a lad that only played a handful of games and who wouldn’t have got into the first team for some time. Pique wanted to leave and return to Barca and we had Rio/Vidic at centre half at the time. Lastly, Diego Forlan didn’t adjust to the culture and speed of English football. At the time, I thought he was a likeable lad but never United class. He proved that in Spain and in South Africa this summer. However, his lack of progress in England wasn’t down to Ferguson’s inability to manage him.

  18. @Nameonthetrophy + Stretford-end.

    Im not saying he’s not good at bringing youngsters through, Im more so saying that he doesn’t help or give as much time/help to the foreign youngsters that your scouts find in Uruguay or Peru or wherever.

    Most of your succesful examples are of British youngsters bought (Giggs,Rooney….) or ones that came through the acamdemy (Scholes, Evans, Fletcher…..[dunno if they did]) but not many of succesful youngsters (say under 21) signed from abroad.
    —{Not saying that’s bad, that’s a good thing. It’s certainly something that Arsene hasn’t achieved at Arsenal other than Ashley Cole}—

    My point was that your scouts have found excellent foreign talents in the past (Forlan, Pique…) who have gone on to become World Class (not just good players) very shortly after leaving you.

    I wouldn’t regard Evra (25), Cantona (26 and already well known), Irwin (25), Schmeichel (27), Vidic (24) as foreign youngsters when they signed.

    I just think you should give Anderson more time and if he was British I think Fergy would give him that time and a longer run of games. He’s kind of the exact opposite of Wenger come to think of it. Wenger tends to give more time and chances to foreign youngsters than the British ones (mostly because the british youngsters only care about Booze, Girls and Computer games).

    Anyway, wasn’t looking for a fight, was just recommending you keep hold of the lad, he’s always played well against us and has often been the best player on the pitch in our games…….

    …..hmmmmm….. come to think of it, you should sell him, he’s rubbish.

    We need all the help we can get.

  19. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree

    The club haven’t really invested in lots of foreign youngsters – and Anderson has certainly played a fair amount already as has Rafael for example. Pique certainly was rotated in when there was an opportunity and forlan was nearly 23 when he made his debut – he’s only now really being recognised as one of the world’s best.

    Surely, Ronaldo is the perfect example of a foreign youngster who has come in and done well.

    Until Rossi and Pique the club didn’t really sign foreign youngsters – there haven’t really been many since to be honest!

    Hopefully he will stay!!! Fingers crossed

  20. Wasn’t Forlan top scorer in Spain his first season in Spain? And Pique became World class within 12 months of moving on. That’s my point I guess. Don’t sell Anderson because I think he can be world class and I think if you sold him, he would become so within a couple of years.

    I know Villarreal have had bids of 20m+ for Rossi in the last 12 months from Italian teams, Forlan has been worth 25m+ for the last few years and Pique is a top 10 CB in the world. They were all sold for pretty cheap relative to their ability and value now, I don’t think you should do the same with Anderson.

    Yes, Ronaldo is the exception. What an exception though!!

  21. Unfortunate that Fergie doesn’t have the patience of Arsene though. If Denilson can get a string of games, Anderson should be first choice all the time! I was okay with Pique wanting to leave, just think we should have got a lot more for him. If Smalling is worth 10, then Pique should have gone for twice that!

  22. Spot on, this article! Give the lad a chance to shine and I’m sure he will not disappoint. He just needs time, that’s what I’ve said all the time. He has undoubted talent and who will ever forget how he bossed Fabregas and Gerrard in midfield?

  23. anderson is a top player,fergie said it himself.anderson is an attacking midfielder not a defensive,that has really hurt the lad in recent seasons.i jus hope dat fergie plays in higher up the field this coming season.that is his best position on a field fergie has to open his eyes.and to me i find that with hargreaves playin behind him he generally shines in these matches(arsenal an liverpool) as examples.anderson do ur best this season u have the backin of manu faithful sooo enjoy the games that you play

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