The return of Tom Cleverley to the United side has been treated with almost the same, relief/euphoria as a certain Frenchman’s re-introduction to the team following a suspension over 15 years ago, by some Reds.
It’s no coincidence that since Cleverley’s been missing United have failed to produce one decent performance over 90 minutes- perhaps with the exception of Leeds.
Now he’s back in the starting XI the United youngster has a world of expectation on his shoulders, mainly thanks to the complete failure of any of the other central midfielders to step up and be counted during his absence. Sunday’s derby game was a case in point where we saw Darren Fletcher and Anderson , fail to get to grips with a rampant City midfield. Although Fletcher did grab a goal and was much better- or should that be less dreadful- than his midfield partner, he hardly covered himself in glory.
Part of the reason for Cleverley’s return being so long-awaited is that many believe it will help a certain Luis de Abreu Oliveira regain his form.
For the past six weeks Anderson’s performances have gone from disappointing, to worrying, to frankly shocking as he seems totally out of his depth at times. There’s no denying he was on top form when Cleverley was alongside him and the logical thinking his he’ll regain his mojo now the youngster’s back.
While I certainly hope this is the case, I’m not about to start banking on it just yet. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from Anderson in the past, followed by periods of mediocrity and there seems something desperately wrong with having a midfielder who can only perform alongside one other particular player. Paul Scholes looked good even alongside Kleberson- ditto Roy Keane, and I remember many years ago, Paul Ince putting in man of the match performances whether it was Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Brian McClair or even Neil Webb who was alongside him.
If Cleverley were to get injured does that mean we may as well count Anderson out for the same length of time as well?
Aristotle once wrote ‘one swallow does not make a Summer’ and six poor games for United does not mean the end of your time at Old Trafford, it should however mean that you desperately need to improve if you’ve any chance of being part of the first team.
Cleverley’s return may well be the last chance saloon for Anderson, as if he fails to regain his form alongside the diminutive youngster he could find himself back on the fringes of the squad and maybe even the exit door. That may sound melodramatic, but let’s face facts; Anderson has yet to truly prove he’s a United player. People may scream “HE’S JUST HITTING A BIT OF BAD FORM!” but let me ask you, when since his arrival has he put together a string of really impressive games?
Last season was a case in point as we saw him rampant against Blackburn, then completely anonymous for his next few games. He’s been at Old Trafford now for almost five years and has yet to prove himself, it looked like he had done at the start of this season, but he flattered to deceive.
It’s amazing when you compare the United careers of Anderson and say Michael Carrick , Anderson is arguably by far the most popular. Yet it’s the former Spurs man, who’s been more consistent over the last few seasons. Anderson is probably liked more due to his impressive first season- albeit in fits and starts, which culminated in him strolling up in the Luzhniki and smashing home his penalty with all the confidence of you’d expect from a young Brazilian. There’s also the flashes of brilliance he shows, in that first season the 4-0 against Arsenal, Anderson gained all the plaudits for his ‘look one way pass the other’ trick, yet Carrick ’s pass for Nani’s goal was superb and Darren Fletcher grabbed a brace.
Michael carrick seems to have become something of a forgotten man for Sir Alex in the big games of late, being left out of the starting line-up at Anfield- in what was a defensive minded midfield- and out of the squad altogether for the derby. I’m not a massive Carrick fan, nor am I one of his detractors, it may be hard to believe but I think he does a good job, but isn’t a natural defensive midfielder and is somewhat wasted there. For me Carrick’s best season at Old Trafford was his first where he was encouraged to get forward more and revelled in that freedom.
Carrick isn’t nearly as bad as some Reds believe, nor is he as great as others claim, he’s a top class player that isn’t quite at the same level as some of the world’s very best midfielders- a similar comment that could be levelled at Anderson, Fletcher, or even Ji Sung Park.
Of that list, it’s probably only Anderson who has yet to fully show what he’s capable of on any consistent level and the question is can United afford to wait and see if he’ll come good, should his poor form continue?
With City already five points clear, United don’t need to be dropping further behind our noisier than ever neighbours. I hate to say it, but if we’re still asking ‘what happened to the Anderson from the beginning of the season’ come Christmas time, then the January transfer window may not be a one-way affair.
Am I wrong to claim Anderson is on borrowed time? Has he done enough to show he’s here to stay? Or is four years long enough of waiting for him to find consistent form? Feel free to comment suggest or abuse below:
Article courtesy of Justin from the excellent Red Flag Flying High