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Fergie: Incredibly Talented Nani Going Nowhere

Following rumours that Nani had played his last game for Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson has ruled out the possibility of selling the winger in January.

Nani was on the receiving end of criticism following our League Cup defeat in extra time against Chelsea after he lost the ball in the last minute to allow the blues to equalise. Nani had scored a brilliant goal himself but Ferguson singled the Portuguese winger out for criticism in the post-match interview.

Nani has struggled for form this season and the crowd got on his back in pretty much every game he played before being injured. The club have offered Nani a new contract but without an increase in salary, so no agreement has been found over an extension yet.

“We won’t be letting him go. We need a Nani,” Fergie told the Sunday Mirror. “His contract isn’t up for a year and a half. He offers something different from the other players. He’s an incredible talent, the boy. Unfortunately, he’s injured at the moment. We have sent him over to Dubai for a break, to help him in his recovery. He’s not far away but he’s far enough away. I don’t think I will get him until the middle of January. He’s got a future here. Why would I want to let him go?”

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. denton davey says:

    United Till I Die @ 15:54: “its only with the signing of Kagawa and the emergence of Anderson and Cleverley that we have the right type of midfielders who can provide Nani with the support he needs. These players need time to gel.”

    The NewUTD – need time to gel and consistent playing-time WITHOUT injuries. Then we’ll see some real excitement – as opposed to that boring dross we saw last weekend (tongue in cheek !)

  2. brett1985 says:

    If people are referring to my comments, I’m not saying Butner is better than Evra but I am saying that with Evra being SO error prone, then it is hard to imagine Butner being worse. Don’t bring tribalism into it. We all know Evra is United through and through but Ferguson does not operate off sentiment alone. Assuming Smalling doesn’t play left back (hopelessly out of position) and in consideration of the fact that Vidic is back then our biggest problem is Evra. His problems have existed over many years now. With a young player I’d like to think he could improve but it just seems unlikely. His positioning is often poor, wingers get past him too easily and he should block far more crosses than he does.

    On a positive note Rafael whose positioning was terrible has matured this season and is increasingly capable as a defender. It’s a relief because with any young player you don’t want the years to pass by in stagnation. Evans has also rediscovered his form. Criticism has fallen on him at times but the problem was not so much his inclusion as the absence of vidic who singularly transforms our defense with his presence.

  3. Valiant Red says:

    SAF is man managing Nani atm. He has always endorsed guys with commitment & TonyV gets the nod there. But Nani is the supremely talented brat we have. The man for the unexpected, he looks for adventure. He is the black sheep at United and I personally have a lot of time for him. One moment of magic & if Nani can conjure it in the game vs RM – he will never look back. SAF knows this & he is creating that hunger & desperation in Nani.

  4. Marq says:

    We are still waiting to see how Kagawa is going to play together with Rooney & Rvp. And its something that will only happen in Feb I suppose, when Rooney is back.


  5. Costas says:

    @King Eric

    Hi mate. That’s what I was saying the other day. Valencia and Nani both starting on the wings rarely fails. Only 5 draws and 1 defeat in 37 games.

  6. Redninja says:

    It pains me to see our player strogling but one thing i know is that one cannot be ontop of his game all the time so with that in mind i wouldnot slag any player too much when he is not ontop of his game. So when i hear the way our fans are slaging v7 and ninjaevra it makes me wander how soon people forget how as fans these players use to make us happy.

  7. Daniel88 says:

    I have never had the feeling with Nani left and Valencia right that we were formidable.

    De Gea, Evans Vidic, Evra, Rafael, Carrick, Cleverley, Kagawa, Valencia, Van Persie and Hernandez. should be the starting line up versus Wigan. If Rafael is not fit then play Jones at full back not Smalling.

    Where the frick is Darren Fletcher ? … even Fergie acknowledged that Carrick was running on fumes last game but he still cannot get a game. They need to stop using him as an excuse to not buy a midfielder because something is clearly wrong.

  8. StatesideAussie says:

    Haven’t read all the comments, but I get the gist. Sad, really, that people have to turn this into a shit-fight between two fine — but very different — players. TonyV is very much a traditional winger. His game is reasonably uncomplicated: for the most part, it relies on his physicality, going outside his man and beating him with pace, or, if they are already deep, holding his man off with strength until he can find that sliver of space he needs to get a cross away. Nothing complicated about it. But that doesn’t mean it is a mug’s game, requiring no skill. There’s not a wide variety of skill in it, but the skills that are used have been developed to a very deep level so they can be executed extremely well time after time. It is a game designed to do pretty much only one or two things, but to do them very well, reliably and consistently.

    Nani is a flair player, with a broad set of skills and the creativity to use them. Of course he is less consistent than TonyV — because being unpredictable is the essence of Nani’s game. And that necessarily implies a certain measure of inconsistency (unless you are talking about Messi or Ronaldo, and I guess that ability to be both unpredictable yet still have consistently brilliant execution is what makes those two so exceptional).

    I know I’ve said this before, but Nani has worked hard to develop his left foot. He didn’t have one when he joined us, now he does. That shows a terrific work ethic and persistence. It also shows he’s prepared to take risks — he was prepared to devote time to developing his weak foot, just when he was fighting for a place in the first team. Now he’s the only one in our squad, and one of a select few in the world, who can play either side of the pitch as either a “traditional” or “inverted” winger.

    He can play right, go outside his man, run deep and cross in with his right foot: this is the traditional style, like TonyV. He can do the same on the left, using his left foot. He can also play the “inverted” style: he can play on the right but cut inside and move laterally across the pitch, an angle which naturally brings his left foot into play for shooting or crossing; or, on the left, he can cut inside and move laterally, which brings his right foot into play. This was the style of winger made famous by Messi under Frank Rijkaard and then Guardiola at Barcelona (before he moved to a more central role): for several seasons, Messi, who is left-footed, played on the right but cut inside and ran laterally across the pitch, bringing his left foot into play for shooting or crossing. And this season, CR7 has been doing the same thing from the other side: as a natural right-footer, he has been playing on the left a lot, but again, cutting inside and running laterally.

    The fact that Nani can play either style, and on either side, makes him incredibly difficult to defend against, because defenders can never be sure just where he’ll pop up, or what he’ll do when he gets there.

    This also gives us anoher option, which I’d like to see us use more often: this is the possibility of deploying Nani as a single winger, but with licence to float either side as he sees fit. This would be very difficult for the opposing defenders to track. For example, with TonyV, the defenders know that 9 times out of 10, we will be attempting to stretch them out wide, which is something that affects the positioning of the entire defensive system. But with Nani, there’s more uncertainty, especially if he’s playing as a lone winger. Which side is he on now? And will he go wide or cut inside? And it’s that uncertainty that can wreck even a very well organised defence, especially when combined with Nani’s bag of other tricks.

  9. StatesideAussie says:

    I forgot to add: the option to use Nani as a lone, roaming winger has the added benefit of allowing us to deploy an additional central midfielder: with two wingers, and two upfront, and four behind, you can only have two in central mid. But with a single winger (who can pop up on either side), then you can have three in the middle (for example, one of Carrick or Fletcher in combination with two of Cleverley, Anderson or Kagawa). It isn’t a combination you’d want to use all the time. But I’d like to try it against better teams who are strong centrally, where we want to retain the ability (and the threat) of stretching them wide, but without getting overrun in the middle.

  10. Busby says:

    Why does every debate descend into this player vs that player. In a 60 game season you need meaningful contributions from 18-22 players. Its not a case of Valencia vs Nani, we need them both! There are games where the other team has 9-10 behind the ball and you need a bit of x factor to open them up, Nani is great for this (when he has his act together). In bigger games you need to close down spaces, track runners and when you get the ball be very purposeful, this is where Valencia excels. Of course they are prone to absolutely shocking games, as wingers are inconsistent by nature and a bit of inconsistency is always there. Its a question of what we need in a particular game. Although I will say that Nani hurts the team more when he is playing badly as his riduculous crowd shots and lack of desire to combine with teammates brings the whole team spirit down.

  11. Toms says:

    Can’t we just take some money out of Ashley’s youngs contract and funnel it to Nani?


  12. United Till I Die says:

    haha @ Toms – good idea.

    @Stateside – interesting. If Nani was used as a “lone winger” like you suggest, constantly switching flanks would make it harder for teams to double mark him, and it means he’d be less likely to run into a brick wall as he’d be choosing when and where he runs into space, instead of being tied to the flank as he has been (except for the 10-man Bayern game of course)

    It wouldn’t suit all opposition, you’re right, but against better teams Nani should be let off the leash as he is an incredible talent. If we used him more like Ronaldo or Messi instead of a traditional winger he’d have free reign across the entire midfield. He could ghost into space on either flank or centrally, and thats when he’s at his best.

    Its probably fantasy football, but we could afford to give Nani that role as we’ve got the Full Backs to give us all the width we need. Rafa and Evra know how the reach the byline and put in a good cross, so with 2 Strikers up front and Nani in a freer role, we can pack midfield with 3 other midfielders to dominate possession and cover our defenders.

    (Brazilians have been doing this since black and white T.V btw…. ;) )

    ………….Rooney RVP


    ………Cleverley Anderson




    Like I said, its fantasy football, but we’ve got the players to do it. We just need them all fit at the same time so Fergie can work his magic. He’s def got plans for Nani tho, I think his career at United up to this stage has been all about developing him. You’re right about his left foot as well, people don’t seem to understand how hard Nani works at his game. He’s a dedicated, down to earth lad by all accounts.

  13. Robbo2Keano says:

    Needless debate in my mind. i know TV7 is currently off form but to give him this much stick seems a little over the edge.

    They are both top players; saw that someone mentioned when TV meet a top full back he would be rendered useless; what a load of crap! wasn’t it this season he made A. Cole look silly? before this season is over we will need em both i an simple happy they play for us rather than against us.

  14. StatesideAussie says:

    United Till I Die … cheers! I think “positional rotation” within a match is going to be the foundation of our success in coming years. And yes, we do have the players to do it. We have some who play centrally but can drift wide (though usually each has a preferred side), some who can move up/down the pitch vertically, some who can do both, and some who specialise in fixed positions. We have one (Rooney) who can play as a “loose cannon” (meant in a complimentary way) and one who can use the full width of the pitch (Nani). There’s plenty of variety and opportunity in there — and that’s a good thing, because between the PL and Europe, we come up against a whole raft of tactical styles.

  15. Ravi says:

    StatesideAussie, my congratulations on a well-thought, articulate argument. I’m biased, I suppose, since we agree on the Nani issue, but that was a good contribution to the debate!

  16. ST says:

    With Valencia and Young, how exactly does he fit into the team?

  17. Costas says:


    Variety, motivation for them to play better and not lose their place and, like Fergie said, pure talent.

  18. DiegoForlanDK says:

    Very glad to hear this. I fancy Nani to have real influence against Madrid. We need his kind of type against them. Young and Valencia are both, with all due respect, a bit too predictable in their play and Mourinho will definitely have a plan for them.

  19. Marq says:

    Valencia, Nani & Young all provide different attributes, in a way, you can say Young is somewhere in between Valencia & Nani in what he offers. We need all 3 of them, as proven now that if one of them is out, we still can play our favoured 442. So there is no point in comparing who is better. All 3 of them are important

  20. kel says:

    If he goes, United lost a great player.

    Its funny how fans forget what he did over the past 2 years.

    He was so brilliant. Now hes off-form and needs more time and games, but fans been so harsh on him.

    Its a pity if he goes.

  21. LoneStarRed says:

    Stateside Aussie

    Well said, excellent post.

  22. LoneStarRed says:

    @ Denton Davey

    Good point about Nani/Evra covering for each other ! But I have to say it was stirring to see Ashley Young busting a lung to track back against West Brom and succeeding in stopping that attack. THAT is what separates us from most other teams. The gaffer demands such effort and it is inspiring to see players give their all to the cause.

    Good points by many here ! Best thread for a while. I think we need both Nani and Valencia to succeed. and as Stateside stated in his excellent post they keep teams guessing and defenses off balance.

  23. StatesideAussie says:

    LoneStarRed … cheers mate. Yeah, there’s no doubting Young’s work ethic. I do wonder if he sometimes tries a bit too hard and ends up over-thinking his options. Maybe that sounds silly. But I do sometimes get the impression he’s over-reaching himself and might be better off just relaxing a bit and letting it flow naturally.

  24. Simon says:

    Nani is a decent player but can blow hot on cold. On his day he is the best winger in the Premiership but his day doesn’t come around each week. He is now a senior in the squad and the younger players will look up to him.


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