Of all the footballers that have donned the famous Manchester United shirt over the years, few would have frustrated the club’s fans more than the undoubtedly talented man from the Cape Verde Islands.
Nani summed up his career at United in just 90 minutes of the 120 played at Stamford Bridge last night, as Chelsea got some degree of revenge for their Premier League defeat and beat Sir Alex Ferguson’s side 5-4 after extra time in the Capital One Cup.
Ferguson blamed the Portuguese international for his side giving away a costly penalty in the final minute of stoppage time, which Eden Hazard stepped up to score the Blues’ third equaliser.
Instead of playing the ball into the corner, the 25-year-old went for glory and tried to beat his man on the edge of the penalty area. Unsurprisingly, he was dispossessed and led to a Chelsea counter-attack which resulted in Scott Wooton fouling Ramires inside the box.
But on the flip side, he proved his quality after linking up superbly with Anderson to execute a delicate chip from a tight angle to score United’s third goal.
He has had his recent troubles, including a protracted contract wrangle and fallout with reserve player, Davide Petrucci, which have been well-publicised and showed his dramatic fall from grace in recent months.
The fact is, Nani was once one of the first names on Sir Alex’s teamsheet; being used down the right-hand side to terrorise full-backs and relied upon to produce a moment of brilliance and win a match.
But his reported greedy behaviour has affected his performances on the pitch, with the man being a shadow of the player many United fans had expected him to become after Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure.
Some would say he is gradually being phased out of the team, as Ferguson adopts a new diamond formation without the need for traditional wingers. Although against Chelsea in the league encounter, he decided to revert to a more familiar 4-4-1-1 shape, but elected to use Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia on the flanks.
These players are the more consistent performers than the Portuguese winger, especially Valencia, who is a typical no-nonsense kind of player that does the simple things effectively while not taking the uncalculated risks which Nani does.
He has had ample time to shine, much more than many other players during their time at the club, but has simply flattered to deceive.
His frustrations at letting the match slip away from his grasp were evident in last night’s game, sparking a melee after clashing with Oscar in what was a rather innocuous incident, but he still took issue with the Brazilian.
The fact that Ferguson rarely vents his criticism to individual players shows the significance of his public rant at Nani. It appears he is being pushed towards the exit door and a summer transfer move will come as a shock to no one.
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