Some things in life are just impossible to predict- the English weather, how many minutes away from relegation Wigan will be at the end of the season, what accent will the latest star of Coronation Street be using.
Arguably the most difficult thing to predict is the form of a certain Luis Carlos Almeida Da Cunha – or “Nani”, as he likes to be known.
Without a doubt one of the most exciting yet frustrating players I’ve ever seen in my 20 odd years of following United.
One minute Nani can be going past defenders with aplomb and sending an unstoppable shot into the back of the net, the next he’s turning himself inside out rolling around on the floor or knocking the overprice meat and potato pie out of someone’s hand in the third tier.
There’s a strong case to be made that Nani is actually United’s most naturally gifted player, yet there’s also one to be argued that with everyone fully he’s not even worthy of a starting place. It’s all a bit bizarre how such a gifted individual is still not guaranteed a starting place and even has some fans unconvinced of his worth to the Red cause.
I’m in the school of thought that Nani should start every game. even with Antonio Valencia fully fit, the arrival of Ashley Young and the temperament and energy of Ji Sung Park , I firmly believe you need the Portuguese winger in the side.
I understand that Nani can be annoyingly greedy, that he often shoots over 350 times a game without troubling the keeper, that at times he seems to be putting in a bid for an Academy Award -or at least a Bafta, with his theatrics, but there’s simply no denying that despite his faults, he is a match winner.
Park may graft like no one else, Valencia may be the best crosser and Young may have a proven Premier League pedigree but none of them are capable of getting hold of the ball and making something out of nothing quite as well as Nani is.
The question is who do you drop at Nani’s expense? Has Sir Alex spent £16 million on Young just for him to keep Michael Owen warm on the bench? I doubt it. Can United really afford to leave out a player like Valencia who seems to bring out the best in Wayne Rooney and has the pace and strength of a Grand National winner? Probably not. Then there’s the big game player that is Mr Park. Dropping Park is arguably the most likely option -unless its a big game, but that still leaves no room for Nani.
With Young and Valencia on the wings Nani would seemingly be relegated to a substitute role, unless of course Ferguson moved him to a more central role.
“But wait! Nani’s always been winger!” I hear you cry, “how can we move him into the middle?”
Well thanks for asking, allow me to elucidate my hypothesis. Nani has shown time and time again, thatr despite his ability for using both feet, when it comes to his left he much prefers shooting with it than he does crossing -although I now you could argue he prefers shooting to crossing with any foot but I’m sure you get my point.
If Nani was deployed in the centre of the park, he could still run at defenders, he could still latch onto through balls like he did last season, from a similar position- Bolton away, City at home, yet he’d also have the wide man as an option to lay the ball off to.
The other argument would be that in Wayne Rooney, United already have an attacking player that can occupy the role just behind the striker. I’m not disputing this what I’m suggesting is that United employ a formation that can accomodate both.
By having say Chicharito up top then Rooney and Nani behind him with Darren Fletcher, Park, Anderson, or Michael Carrick, in front of the back four, then Young and Valencia on the wings United may well be able to have their cake and eat it.
I know that may seem a little gung-ho having five attacking players in the same line-up, not to mention the fact you’d also miss out on playing a certain Mr Ryan Giggs but let me ask you this, is the suggested line up all that different from what we saw at times last season? Carrick and Giggs with Rooney off Chicharito and Park and Valencia out wide was used on several occasions. Admittedly Park does a lot more grafting than Nani ever would but then again Nani’s more likely to put teams on the backfoot. giving United a ‘attack is the best form of defence’ type edge.
This is all conjecture of course, the whole experiment could be a disaster of epic proportion leading all sorts of catasrophies and the imminent disbanding of the club. Or would it? Why not give it a try against City in the charity, sorry Community Shield? If it doesnt work its not the end of the world and if it does, then maybe we can unleash it again against West Brom and really take the season by storm.
Have I gone in off the deep end or is there a small island of sense in my ocean of dribble? Feel free to comment suggest and abuse below.
Read more of Justin’s articles at Red Flag Flying High
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