Despite not having kicked a ball yet for his new club, Manchester United signing Bebe has found himself at the centre of a media and fan circus on account of his remarkable journey to the top flight of English football. Many fans and pundits have been questioning the rationale behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to sign the Portuguese winger even though he hasn’t ever seen him play. But we fans should give Bebe a chance to settle into life in Manchester in what is undoubtedly a completely alien environment that what he is used to before we condemn Bebe before he has even gotten started.
Bebe’s rise to stardom has been nothing short of meteoric. Bebe was abandoned at a young age by his mother and father. He was left in the care of his grandmother until a local court ordered Bebe to be put in the care of a church homeless shelter in Santo Antao do Tojal on the outskirts of Lisbon. It was here at the Casa do Gaiato shelter where Bebe grew into a man and learnt how to play football.
He was recommended to play for the local amateur club Loures his talents were spotted by Portuguese Second Divison side Esterela da Amadora who snapped up the youngster to their youth academy. Bebe rose through the ranks at Esterela and made his debut in the first team last season. One season at first-team level in the third tier of Portuguese football was enough to convince top-flight side Vitoria de Guimaraes to sign the winger on a free after Esterela were not able to pay Bebe’s wages.
However, his spell at Vitoria was to be a short one as his impressive pre-season form of 5 goals from 6 games put his star on the map of European heavyweights Real Madrid and Manchester United. Sensing interest from Jose Mourinho’s side, Sir Alex Ferguson activated the €8 million release clause in Bebe’s Vitoria contract and the Portuguese was on his way to Old Trafford.
Since joining the club three weeks ago, Bebe’s every move has been scrutinised extensively by the British media. There have been reports that he had been left out of United’s reserve team squad due to the player not being good enough; an allegation which was furiously denied by Sir Alex Ferguson. Far from not being good enough, Bebe was left out of United’s reserve team trip to City on account of him not being not fit enough to play right away with the winger undergoing an intensive fitness regime to get him up to full match speed.
Then there were the reports suggesting that Bebe was left out of a mid-week reserve team match against Oldham Athletic despite the fact that the Portuguese winger was away on international duty with the U-21 side which faced England on Friday night.
Bebe’s performance against England was decidedly mixed as the youngster failed to impose himself on the game as Portugal ran out 1-0 losers in Barcelos. He wasn’t helped by the tactics employed by Portugal coach Oceano Cruz which left Bebe isolated upfront with little support from the midfield. More often than not, Bebe’s first touch let him down but he did impress when he set off on an inspired run from inside his own half which forced England goalkeeper Frank Fielding into making a save.
While his Manchester United career maybe hasn’t gotten off the most auspicious of starts, the signs are encouraging. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has a proven reputation for nurturing and developing young talent so he finds himself in the right environment to succeed. He has fellow Portuguese winger Nani at the club to look up to as a role model to see what is possible if he willing to put in the effort.
Like Bebe, Nani is a Portuguese of Cape Verde descent and can act as a mentor to the young Bebe about how to succeed at Old Trafford. He struggled initially at Manchester United but has since gone on to establish himself as an important and consistent performer in the United first-team.
Bebe has a lot of expectation to live up to but we should give the youngster time to develop his talents on the pitch before we judge him.
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