There is nothing more touching in football, then to see two brothers together rise up the ranks of a club, and eventually reach stardom.
At United, it has been done before, Gary and Phil Neville will forever be remembered by fans as loyal servants to the club, players crucial in some of the Red Devils’ golden years.
And now, it looks as though a new set of twins are ready to ascend the Old Trafford steps, and finally make the impact that was expected of them when they arrived. From the start we knew that there was something special about the Da Silva twins, an excitement everytime they got the ball, and a refreshing rawness about the way they played both in defense and on attack.
At first, it was Rafael who succeeded in gaining entrance to the senior team, competing with players like John O’Shea and Wes Brown for the starting right back spot. With steele and feistiness to go with a bit of Brazilian magic, Rafael starred for the first team on several occasions, scoring goals against Wigan and Arsenal, and at every opportunity whipping in fabulous crosses for the strikers to feed upon.
By the end of 2009/10, Rafael was Ferguson ’s first choice at the right back position, a role which he maintained into the 10/11 season, and will likely continue to command next year. With O’Shea and Brown both on the verge of a move to Sunderland though, Rafael’s twin brother will also begin to come more into play, Fabio usefulness on both wings has already served United well in the past.
On only a few occasions have we seen the two brothers start together for United, most notably when they played on either wing in an FA Cup tie with Arsenal. That match could prove to be a little taster of what is to come, the two Brazilian brothers are likely to spend even more time on the pitch together next season.
This summer has had a very “out with the old, in with the new” tone to it so far, and the likely ascendance of the Da Silva brothers fits that pattern perfectly. Over the final months of last season, you did get the feeling that stalwart players like Wes Brown and John O’Shea were being phased out, prepared for sale to a lower profile English team. At the same time though, Rafael and Fabio were being preened for the future, readied for a new era in the United defense.
As good as Vidic and Ferdinand are, it is important to realize that their time as starting defensive pair at United is beginning to run out; while Vidic is still as solid as ever, Ferdinand’s injuries are catching up with him fast. The Jones-Smalling partnership that was so impressive at the U21 Euros is likely to be the one to take United forward, and Fabio and Rafael are the probable men to be flanking that duo.
There is no question that the twin brothers have already enjoyed brilliant careers at United, both have Premier League winners medals, and both have scored goals at Old Trafford. However, there is still so much more to come from those twins, if their progress continues at the rate that it has the last couple of years, then the duo could end up becoming one of the most menacing full back pairings in World football, and a staple at the international level.
Next season, Rafael will start virtually unchallenged at right back, while you can be sure that if Evra fails to improve on a poor showing last season Fabio will be ready to pounce on his starting spot. The duo are primed for an exciting future at Old Trafford, let’s hope that they fulfill their enormous potential.
Read more of David Yaffe-Bellany’s articles at Red Flag Flying High