Manchester United and Portugal affectionately known as Nani. Often ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, at times he can set the footballing world alight with flashes of brilliance. Fans often remember his superb goal against Liverpool at the beginning of his Manchester United career as a real indication of his ability.

Despite this, 2012 has been a really poor year for the winger. Following the mistake that ultimately contributed to United conceding a last minute equaliser in the Capital One Cup defeat to Chelsea last weekend, perhaps aptly for a Halloween night, Sir Alex Ferguson had his stake out ready in the post-match interview ready to condemn Nani’s horror show. His performance last Wednesday compounded what has been a pretty miserable season so far, primarily used as a bit-part player by the Red Devils boss. More Premier League substitute appearances than starts isn’t perhaps what he envisaged before the campaign kicked off, and a fourth substitute appearance of the season in a huge game like Arsenal demonstrates how far down he currently is in the pecking order.

Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Arsenal on Saturday featured two players who have become victims of their own contract situations. While Walcott’s performances haven’t warranted a Premier League start, it appears as if Sir Alex is likewise happy to leave Nani on the bench until he makes a decision on his future one way or the other. As well as his seeming mistreatment by Ferguson, I believe Nani receives a bad press all round.

I have not usually disliked Sir Alex Ferguson in the past, but his comments this season have been annoying to say the least. He had no right to stick his nose in Rio Ferdinand’s decision to not wear a Kick It Out t-shirt, he had no right to give his opinion on the FA’s enquiry into Mark Clattenburg’s alleged racist remark and when a manager should be defensive over their players, much like Pardew was of Cheick Tiote in the Wear-Tyne derby labelling the Ivorian as ‘part of the Newcastle family’, Ferguson was unfair to criticise Nani for a mistake which wouldn’t have prompted the same reaction had Paul Scholes made a similar error.

It didn’t help the Portuguese man who already seems a victim of torrents of media criticism and if we’re being honest isn’t exactly a fans’ favourite with the Manchester United faithful. It is interesting reading the Manchester United forums on the Nani situation. On the pitch much of his criticism has derided from him being an ‘unintelligent’ footballer. Several of the bloggers posted that they thought his “poor footballing brain” was down to being too instinctive and his poor execution.

I couldn’t disagree more. I think Nani is an intelligent footballer. When I’ve seen him play over the years I often think he has a good positional sense and this is exemplified by an impressive goal scoring record for a winger, which stands at 26 goals in 130 Premier League games. Additionally, many of us will remember well the goal that was given against Tottenham in October 2010 when Gomes thought they had earned a free kick for Nani to swoop in and tap the ball into an empty net. Whether people thought that Nani had cheated or not, one has to admire his assertiveness and knowledge of the rules in that situation where many had just dismissed it.

As well as a bad press, Nani is a victim of constantly striving to walk in the shadows of someone who is simply better than he is. In Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani has not only had to live up to the standards the Real Madrid player left at Manchester United, but when they take to the field for Portugal. It is the fact that both players are Portuguese and that Nani’s arrival at Old Trafford occurred when Ronaldo was at his peak, that the media touted him as ‘Ronaldo’s natural successor’.  These parallels with Ronaldo have certainly contributed in tarnishing Nani’s career, almost like a son who tries to emulate in his world famous father’s footsteps. These comparisons have definitely taken their toll in Nani, and his criticism of Ronaldo for wanting all the glory amidst the confusion regarding the order the penalties were to be taken in following Portugal’s Euro 2012 exit, speaks volumes.

Needless to say, Nani has never reached the dizzy heights of Ronaldo. But his problems at Manchester United have also been compounded by another factor – the rise and rise of Antonio Valencia. The Ecuadorian has transformed himself from a highly rated youngster at Wigan to one of the continent’s most feared wingers, bypassing Nani in the United pecking order in the process. Valencia’s good form has made people stop and wonder why Nani has never performed at the same level.

Despite being frustrating in games, there are several reasons as to why Nani receives a bad press at Old Trafford. Aside from being a goal scorer to which I previously alluded to, he can be explosive and unpredictable and a genuine match-winner. I think that the term match-winner can only be applied otherwise to Robin van Persie, Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney at Manchester United. Speaking of Rooney, Nani also brings the best out of the England international. He created many assists for Rooney last season, and 12 in total, just one behind Antonio Valencia. Finally, he loves Manchester United and while some players, Arshavin comes to mind, give 60 per cent in a game, Nani always gives the proverbial ’110%’ for his side.

Also, his high level of performances have been over the course of five seasons. This in my opinion makes him a better player than Ashley Young in many ways as Young has had just one good season at the very top, and even then he displayed some mediocrity.

For all these reasons alone I think that the negative coverage Nani has been receiving is unfair, and perhaps we should appreciate the good work he has done for Manchester United rather than the criticisms he receives from his manager, the press and supporters alike.

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  • ManU14
    2 years ago

    I have to disagree I’m afraid, there’s no way a player of his experience at the club should be trying to beat players with 30 seconds left on the clock, away from home keeping a one goal lead. I also disagree had it been Scholes he would’nt have been dressed down. I can understand a misplaced pass but to try and beat a player is undefendable. Nani has always been an individual, which can be seen in his goal celebrations that focus purely on ‘his’ own ego and never wishing to acknowledge his team mates. Notice also when he kicked out at Oscar, the only player that came to is aid was Kiko only because he was nearby. Furthermore I believe he rates embarassing defenders over creating chances. When will he grow up, he’s immature.

    Reply
    • the man
      2 years ago

      seems like you’re happier to pick on the negatives of nani, every player has their own negatives.. having said that nani also has a lot of positives, one of them was his goal against chelsea, why isn’t any body talking about that? was by far the best goal of the game.. some of you united fans are a tad deluded to say the least..

      Reply
  • ManU14
    2 years ago

    Your right it’s easy to get caught up in negatives, and his finish was simply brilliant, but his mistake cancelled it out. Nani is the most inconsistent player in the Utd squad, which is not a luxury we can afford. Consistency is absolutely key, especially from a player who is primary there to provide assists. Valencia I believe has less ability than Nani but he performs his role week in week out to a higher standard. Nani has been at the club long enough to know he needs to up his game, and not just show flashes of brilliance. The last 8 games Nani has started they have lost 4 drew 1 and won 3, just coincidence? With this record in mind does it fill you with confidence that his comments about his future consist of “I am the same Nani as always”. Ronaldo lost all his flicks when he was in his teens, Anderson has stepped up a gear this season worked on his fitness and said he wants to show he’s good enough. If Utd had been successful in the summer with hazard and moura, Nani wouldn’t get a look in. The moment I see Nani cutting out unnecessary flicks and trying to beat everyone, celeberate scoring his goal with the team and come out saying he wants to fight for his place, I will be the first to get behind him. Utd is a club where ability is not enough, he simply hasn’t shown enough maturity in his game and by now that should have changed. If I’m a deluded fan then you’ll have to include Sir Alex in that category because he accepted a Zenit bid in the summer, which only fell through because of Nani’s unrealistic wage demands.

    Reply
    • fergie ass.....
      2 years ago

      every time a player tends to show will of is own, mr Ferguson kind of little hitler does this kind of dictatorial treatment to players, because they want him playing for the money he wants to pay them, (remember when he trow a boot to Beckam’s face, remember what he did with Bébé, making him cut is hair, remember Tevez why he left Old Traford) and sets up the press against him just to try and keep him, he is detracting the image of Nani,to put other clubs of thinking on buying is pass, a player, any player needs to play regularly and Man United cannot afford to leave a player like Nani on the bench and sometimes not even in the bench, if Fergie doesn’t change is mind and stops this unrespectfull game he is going to be sorry because Nani is used to suffer, he is proud of is humble origins and it is not Fergie who is going to make in kneel, and worse, he is going to let is contract run til the end even if Fergie tells him to seat in the stands during the games, the only one guilty of the bad season Nani is hving is Ferguson alone, he is making Nani’s life a misery at Old Traford, and the fans are blind and do not see that, forgeting easily the past brilliance of Nani, especially the last season where he was chosen the best EPL player, and you are so stupid to the point of saying he is not inteligent, uninteligent is a man who leaves is best player in the bench not minding to paying the fortune he pays, just to satisfy is fascist EGO,he’s shooting is own foot and I am going to laugh in the end, when he loses the title again.

      Reply
  • Matt Read
    2 years ago

    Hey manu14, I’m interested when you say that nani is an individual and that he is more interested in embarrassing defenders then creating chances. He created 12 assists last season, the 2nd most for your side. This sort of exemplifies my point though that often he receives an unfair press.

    Reply
    • fergie ass.....
      2 years ago

      Hi Matt Read, the problem with them is if the old man says go and kill yourselves they will do it, I guess at least 4 teams on the PL are waiting and laughing to get Nani on their books not talking about clubs abroad, I would say who knows never forget, Nani was born with this incredible gift, and he is not going to forget what he knows if he leaves United, am sure he will become a better player, you never get the best of your men with a whip, need to be firm but friend with your players, and I bet Nani is not the only one unhappy, the problem is he is the most mediatic and sells newspaper.

      Reply
  • Daniel
    2 years ago

    I have to disagree to this article,
    1) Nani has like you said gone through a bad year therefore you CANT start blaming others for his form or contract situation he is NOT the only player around at man utd he has competition on the wing with various players and being at man utd you must either fight for your place or lose it! His contract situation is HIS fault HE wants £130,000 which is more than players higher up the “pecking order” (valencia-young-kagawa) therefore don’t try that to blame sir alex!
    2) Scholes WHO DOES HAVE A FOOTBALLING BRAIN WOULD NEVER HAVE DONE SUCH A STUPID THING IN THE LAST 10 SECONDS OF A GAME!!!! So don’t shift the blame to sir alex he saw a crazy thing from a player at man utd which lost us the game he has EVERY RIGHT to blame nani or any other player who does it or any other embarrassing thing for the club! This is man utd remember! Not a Blue square premier club!

    Lets be clear i LOVE it when nani plays well he is a joy to watch, and i would prefer he stay and regain his form, but for people to start blaming the man who made nani the player he was and could hopefully be again is a bit silly!

    LONG LIVE SIR ALEX FERGUSON!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • nani
      2 years ago

      I know such stupid fans with their rule: SAF KNOWS. this shit is for brainless flock of fans who do not give a damn clue about football and what is really going on on the field.All they know is the SAF knows!!! And when he is acting like a shit they continue yealling SAF KNOWS.. because their brains are full of shit and they are not able to think by themselves

      Reply
  • nani
    2 years ago

    Nani is the sharpest player in our midfield line. unlike Valencia and Young who can hardly beat one player against him. Nani can outplay two or three players at once. He can strike, his delivery is of high quality 90%. He is intelligent footballer, he can see the whole field and give a decent pass when it is necessary and where it is needed. Valencia and Young are far behind him. I hate stupid fans with short memory which have forgotten how much goals and goal passes made Nani for ManUtd. He is one of the best vingers in the world and playing for Portugal he was much more brighter and useful than Ronaldo

    Reply