When it was announced that United had signed teenager Anderson for a fee that could rise to £19 million, the country thought Fergie was barking. It was questioned how any player so young could be worth such a fee, particularly one that had never played in the Premiership before. The transition from one league to another has proved to be the stumbling block for players in the past. South Americans Juan Sebastian Veron and Diego Forlan proved themselves as top players in Europe, but when they moved to the Premiership, they were shown up. Veron was one of the best midfielders in Europe before he came to the Premiership, and Forlan showed himself as a quality striker once he had left the more difficult league in England. What was Ferguson thinking about bringing in some Brazilian kid for £19 million??
Well that question has already been answered, after just fifteen games for United. He first got people talking when he came on as a substitute after just twenty minutes against Wigan. Thrown on due to an injury to Vidic, Anderson held his weight in our midfield, and even set up one of the goals. He continued to impress on our away trip to Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League, bossing the midfield despite being partnered with the rather useless Darren Fletcher. However, it was his performance against Arsenal that really caught the attention of the Premiership. With the whole World watching, Anderson was our Man of the Match, stifling the usually impressive midfield of Fabregas and Flamini.
“Anderson has been absolutely superb,” said Ferguson, following the Arsenal game. “The boy has definitely got something special. There was an urgency to get him once we’d scouted him, even though he’d broken his leg and had been out for four or five months. The reports we were getting were saying that he was the best young player in the world. At the time, I was saying, ‘For God’s sake, let’s calm down a bit here.’ I knew he had real potential, but I didn’t want to put labels on him like that. But we’ve been delighted with him and he has proven himself to be a true central midfield player. He can tackle, he’s lightning quick, he’s brave and he can pass the ball.” Not content to leave it at that, Fergie wanted to get in one last dig. “Fabregas is going through a golden period at Arsenal,” he said, “but I thought Anderson dominated that position.”
He then went on to make the difference for us when he came on with half an hour left to play against Bolton, and left us wondering why Ferguson hadn’t opted to play him from the start over Carrick.
Last weekend saw us defeat Liverpool at Anfield, again, and despite a heavyweight midfield of Gerrard and Mascherano, Anderson yet again came out on top, holding his ground and showing no fear. He also cleared the ball off the line following one of Van der Sar’s fuckups.
Paul Scholes absence is usually one that effects us more than any other player, but Anderson is putting in the effort and the performances which result in us not missing our Ginger Prince half as much as we would have imagined.
Today, Cristiano Ronaldo has spoken out praising our young Brazilian, claiming he bears similarities to both Scholes and Keane. “Anderson is a fantastic player and it’s no surprise to anyone at United that he is playing so well,” Ronaldo said. “He is young, but has done a great job since he came to us. He is a man. Just because he is only 19, it doesn’t mean he can’t compete with players who are older and more experienced than him. At Liverpool he showed just why the manager decided to sign him. He was strong, he had no fear and he was one of the best players on the pitch. Anderson is a different player to Scholes or Keane, but he has similar qualities to them. Every player has his own style, his own mentality, and Anderson is showing people what great qualities he has.”
He is still young and it is impossible to state how good he will become, however all the signs are right for Anderson at the moment. Before his first game, I imagined Anderson to be an extremely creative player, in the Scholes mould, but possibly rather lightweight until he learnt the ways of the Premiership. Whilst his creative nature is apparent, with Anderson showing the ability to spray the ball all over the park, we have also seen an element of Keano in him. He’s a fighter and a tough tackler, he’s bossed the top midfields in the league, and wins the ball in situations he has no right to. Maybe Ronaldo really has exposed something here. Maybe Anderson has the potential to show talents representing a combination of two of the best midfielders United have ever known?
How excited are you about Anderson? Does he have the potential to be one of our greatest?
To mark the anniversary of United winning the Treble with a team that had academy products at the core, Made in Manchester is available for just £3 for today only. Some of the best football writers take a player each, from Sir Bobby Charlton to Ryan Giggs, George Best to David Beckham, Duncan Edwards to Paul Scholes, and many more, with 30 articles in total. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.