Football FanCast guest columnist James
Whitmore wonders whether Nani will
ever be the right fit at Old Trafford.
With Cristiano Ronaldo
off to Madrid and Sir Alex Ferguson being out-priced in his pursuit of Franck
Ribery, the opportunity is now there for Nani to step up to the plate and live
up to the potential that forced the club to spend £17m on him two summers ago.
The early signs haven't been promising and rightly the questions about whether
he has the ability to play for a team like United have surfaced once again.
Nani has had a tough time
at Old Trafford to date which is hardly surprising when one Cristiano Ronaldo
was standing in your way and having to play understudy is hardly the most
enviable of tasks for anyone, especially when you are attempting to find your
feet in English football and you are not given the run of games you need to
build up consistency; it certainly hasn't been easy, but you do feel that
perhaps it can no longer be used an excuse, given that he now has no obstacles
in his way and his first team chances have been increased.
Nani hasn't performed
well this season and Saturday's performance against Stoke was a real shocker,
which was highlighted further by the very fact that Giggs came on for him and
changed the course of the game. He just seems out of place at times, but the
frustrating thing I find about him is that he is prone to having a good 10mins
in a game and then he just goes off the boil and is missing for the rest of the
time and this lack of consistency is what drives me nuts and makes me wonder
whether he has what it takes to not only replace Ronaldo, but play for United.
I was talking to a pal of
mine, who rates Nani, and he says the problem is you have to play to his
strengths and give him the ball all the time otherwise he's go missing and lose
his rhythm. That is all well and good, but firstly Nani doesn't possess the
abilities or the goals to warrant the privilege that Ronaldo enjoyed in the
past couple of years and secondly the beauty of Cristiano's exit is that it has
freed up the whole team and we are not so predictable with our attacks and we hold
possession a lot more centrally.
So where are we with Nani and is Sir Alex
Ferguson starting to lose patience with him? As I said at the start of the
piece there is nothing standing in his way to take that left or right wing role
and make it his own,
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yet he just continues to flatter to deceive when he is
given the opportunity. I know Cristiano was full of praise for his compatriot
over the weekend and suggesting big things from him, but the question remains
as to how long Sir Alex waits for him to prove it.