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He’s 22-years-old now…

Happy birthday, Nani, 22-years-old today! He is currently in Brazil with Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of Portugal’s friendly with Brazil.

In modern football, 22 is no longer that young. Just think, Wayne Rooney is 22-years-old and this is his seventh season of Premiership football!

Plenty of comparisons have been made between Ronaldo and Nani, with them both being Portuguese and joining us from the same club. Whatever differences you may believe there is between them, the most striking difference is the amount of football Ronaldo enjoyed when he first joined, unlike Nani who is still waiting for his break.

There is less than two years difference between the two players, yet their development is miles apart. Whilst we didn’t see the blinding shots Nani produced against Tottenham and Middlesbrough in Ronaldo’s first season with the club, he played far more than Nani has done since joining us.

Surely if we want to see the best of Nani, he needs to be played much more often than he has been so far. This would come at the cost of Ji-Sung Park and maybe even Ronaldo himself, but if we’re looking for someone to step in to Ronaldo’s shoes, isn’t it time we gave him the opportunity to move up a gear?

He is frustrating to watch, shooting when he should pass, passing when he should shoot, but his judgement can only improve if he’s given time on the field. It’s hard to think back and remember what Ronaldo used to be like, given his outstanding status in World football at the moment, but he wasn’t that great when he first joined. One trick pony he used to be called, remember? The difference is, Ronaldo was 18-years-old back then and it took him a good few years of playing week in week out to get him to where he is now.

If we want to see Nani develop in the same way, it’s time to give him his starting place.

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. BEROONALVEZ says:

    great article, couldnt agree with you more scott.the boy is annoying at times but he has an abundance of talent,and just needs more playing time.

  2. denton davey says:

    Agreed – he needs to play more. The talent is there, what he lacks is game experience.


    you feel for the guy because hes rarely in the team so when he plays he feels he has to get a goal to prove himself of its back to the bench. but as you said he is really fustrating to watch, you remember games like asnl in the fa cup last season and you think “wow this guys going to be big” then days like celtic when he couldnt do anything right!

    the reason ronaldo played so much in his first season was because the only other player we really had to play there was a guy called fletcher (who i have to say has been outstanding as our CM player this season and last), in nanis case he has park, ronaldo, tevez, berba, rooney, anderson all ahead of him (out interchanging play means anyone can be out on a wing at anytime). but i would like to see nani a little more, he can beat a player and out of all our attackers hes the only one that can really cross the ball

  4. Anant says:

    nah . park over nani any day!

  5. Anant says:

    THIS_IS_MANCHESTER – are you implying park and ronaldo cant cross the ball ?!


    umm to be fair have you seen their crossing? i mean nani got more assists last season and he played a lot less

  7. Anant says:

    thats cause he takes corners . and i reckon he played more than park last year . also , when ronaldo is in the mood his crosses match those of his predecessor (i.e. golden balls himself)

  8. Anant says:

    just because he cuts inside so often , doesnt mean he cant cross


    while they can all cross, i still stick that hes the best crosser we have. ronaldo cuts in a lot and scores but when he goes out wide his crossing isnt really the best – usually defenders clear them quite easy (i know we dont really have height in the box, apart from berba ofc) but with nani he manages to get the ball into areas where gk’s and defenders cancel eachother out so its harder to defend

  10. TinManUnited says:

    Neville is our best crosser!

  11. SteRDLK says:


    Nani cant even beat the first man. His corners are the absolute worst i’ve seen.

    I’d rather we played Park over Nani any day of the week. At least he trys for the team unlike Ronaldo Jr “SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT” he tells himself and every time he is wrong.

  12. Anderson says:

    The problem with Nani is that he wants to be a “Ronaldo”.

  13. Scott the Red says:

    Ste – honestly? I’d say Nani is about the only player we have who can create danger from a corner. They have pace and usually go in to the danger area.

  14. TinManUnited says:

    I wasn’t joking Neville can cross the ball!!


    honestly can anyone show me a united player that can take a corner as well as nani? i mean giggs pass the first man but rarely have pace on them nani i feel has a very good cross on him. you guys can say he doesnt but i stand by my statement.

    i just feel that when he plays he feels “o god i have to do something good!” like score a screamer or set up a key pass. if he has a good run of games i feel he will only get better its just all this choping and changing which isnt good for him, i love park to bits but nani has for more quality if you ask me. half the time when park gets into the box you know hes going to miss – but the lad plays his heart out so i will not speak badly about him

  16. Karan says:

    His ability to ‘drop’ the ball from crossing positions is pretty good. Give the man more playing time. Flair players need that.

  17. Aj Ariff says:

    I would love to see him to be a regular left winger from now on. He should’ve started against arsenal the other day and I’m confident we could’ve won. He’s an exceptional player… the goal against spurs gives me goosebumps everytime I see it… Love giggs but Im afraid times up.

  18. Jig says:

    Nani’s quality is extremely sporadic, I have watched games where he hit the first man on each of about 6/7 corners. Other games he’s skinned the opposition on the outside, made the line by the skin of his teeth and fired in scintillating balls.

    When he first arrived I felt he was more of a team player than Ronaldo, he wanted to play through team-mates, cross balls into danger areas and combine with others with interplay on the edge of the box. Nowadays he seems to have developed a selfish streak similar to that of Ronaldo. He wants to take on the glory shot when he believes it’s on, It rarely is for him these days.

    I’m worried about his progress but agree that he needs some game time. Having said that; time is a commodity we have little of at OT, when a player gets some minutes on the pitch he needs to impress and Nani hasn’t been doing that.

    Using the Fletcher example: his attitude has always been correct, never say die and work like a maniac for the team. This has stood to him and Fergie has paid him back by supporting him and giving him plenty of opportunities.

    I think Nani should look toward senior players like Scholes, Giggs, Neville and Ferdinand for advice and not to Ronaldo who is a a bit of a once off in fairness.

  19. Oooodz says:

    I’m with THIS_IS_MANCHESTER i reckon Nani is a great crosser of the ball, its easy to think that he isn’t a good crosser though because of his tendency to shoot from anywhere. He was Sportings star player when we got him and even then the Youtube videos that I saw showed that he was pretty greedy.

  20. Hasan says:

    On the one hand there’s a general consensus that he should quit aping ronaldo and on the other we debate and directly compare whether he or Ronaldo crosses’ better. Ronaldo doesn’t take the corners for obvious reasons but that in no way suggests that Nani crosses better. Ronaldo creates more from his crosses and technically (read trajectary and speed) he is at least as good as Nani at it..besides Ronaldo does so equally efficiently with either foot and i can’t recall a single ‘proffesional’ footballer(again Nani..maybe..not sure) who does so let alone be good at it.
    Having said so i too feel Nani ought to play more. He is extremely annoying at times, but i think its us who lack patience. He’s still young..well not so young anymore but young nonetheless and there ought to be plenty to improve, his repeated mistakes thus understandable. He came as a young lad to a team that already had a young two-footed winger..who too came from the same club..and that they even were from the same country..the comparision was seemingly done above.. So if (if) he does try and emulate Ronaldo there in nothing wrong in it. Ronaldo has achieved a level (footballing and otherwise) aspiring to which is understandable. How committed Ronaldo is to the club is well known so there is a good reason in having a replacement ready…i see nothing wrong if he turn out to be a Ronaldo clone.. But for that he needs to play more……then again all last season whenever he started i kept wishing that Park played instead..

  21. badger says:

    Nani has to be one of the most frustrating players I’ve seen at United but I do feel that he needs a decent run of games to show his true potential and I would have him in the side over Park any day of the week.

    Cant fault Parks enthusiasm but he has the worst first touch I have ever seen from a pro, Nani is definitely more of a threat when in form.

  22. suhayl says:

    jig and badger good points lads

  23. asidfg says:

    park is only ahead on the lad in work rate, but does a winger need a high work rate ? the great ones were always lazy! seriously though, as an attacking asset park is frustrating to watch ,legs too short, easily bundled off the ball, nasty first touch. give nani a run the long term benefits will be great. he has the potential to be just( ok close to) as good as ronaldo. if he doesnt get games soon enough he may never realise his full potential.

  24. dickson says:

    did you guys watch Park play the last two match?? He was effing brilliant!!! seriously. But i do agree that Nani has more flair and has the quality to turn a match around on his own. And i also agree that he is our best corner taker and crosser. For all of Ronaldo’s brilliance.. his cross is really just average for a winger.

  25. =) says:

    Rooney is 23..

  26. ancha says:

    have u seen ronaldo s cross against villareal ..which evans hit the side of the post …that match is the first match after his return from injury…dont tell me some one who can give those kind of crosses..when not completely fit and just returned from injury…

    the thing is he doesnt cross that often..he does it rarely…

  27. Vany says:

    he is the first best cape verdiaan player Ever!
    i think his so much better then Cristiano Ronaldo!


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