What a difference 12 months can make! At the beginning of the year, Anderson’s Manchester United career looked to be over before it had really got going after a reported row with manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Fast forward to the present and it would seem Christmas has come early for the Brazilian after he penned a new four-and-a-half year contract at Old Trafford.
The new deal comes as a result of a recent extended run in the team where the 22-year-old has produced some of his best performances for the club. Ironically, many considered this to be Anderson’s last chance to prove to Sir Alex he had not just the ability, but the attitude to become a regular at the Theatre of Dreams.
Credit to him, the midfielder hasn’t had it easy since joining in 2007 from Porto. An unknown quantity to many in England, the transfer fee itself demanded instant success from Anderson; not many players get a ‘settling in period’ after a £17 million transfer to one of the biggest clubs in the world. His performances since being at United would best be described as inconsistent. As recently as the past couple of weeks, Anderson has been the stand-out player against both Valencia and Arsenal at home, whilst joining the rest of the team in bottling the fight against West Ham in the Carling Cup defeat at Upton Park. To make things worse, the game after he kissed and made up with Fergie following their little tiff, (which had earned the ex-Porto man a stay of execution at least) Anderson suffered a serious knee injury which kept him out of action for six months. Not only was he once again out of the picture at United, but he missed out on what would have been his first World Cup.
Now very much back fit and in favour at Old Trafford, Anderson’s new contract has not only silenced those who doubted his ability to become a United regular, but many now believe with the Brazilian as a driving force, United have found the answer to the missing piece of the puzzle. As it stands, United sit top of the league and look incredibly hard to beat, but many have suggested they are still lightweight in midfield. Paul Scholes’ age is a problem, Michael Carrick has been out of form for a while, Owen Hargreaves continues to be injured and despite his best endeavours, Darren Fletcher cannot do it all on his own.
In Anderson, Ferguson may have finally found an answer to the problem, and credit to him for sticking with a player who many would have cut their losses with. He provides the type of energetic, box-to-box dynamism you would usually associate with a Manchester United midfielder who can mastermind the perfect counter-attack, linking midfield to attack.
After talk of United’s next generation not being up to standard, the future is starting to look very promising. Anderson could go on to feature in the heart of Fergie’s midfield for years to come. More success is just around the corner. Not bad for a player on his way out in January, eh?