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Manchester’s Mystery Man

A lot of mystery surrounded the transfer of Brazilian midfielder Anderson to Manchester United. No one really had any idea who he was having only made 18 appearances in Europe with Porto since moving from his native country. Even now, a sense of enigma still surrounds the 22-year-old as a rumoured rift in his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson has put a real doubt on his future prospects at the club.

Putting all the intrigue and mystery to one side a moment, Anderson must’ve reveled in the idea that he is only the second Brazilian to ever play for the Old Trafford club. No doubt the shine of that mantel would have dimmed as soon as he realized that his predecessor was Kleberson – whose United career was more-or-less stillborn – but never mind.

Fortunately for both parties, Anderson’s contribution quickly eclipsed his compatriot’s as his early fleeting substitute appearances showed tantalising glimpses of quality and determination that must’ve reassured not only fans but Sir Alex Ferguson himself.

He came of age in big games against Arsenal and Liverpool in 2007 where he demonstrated the ability to match-up against the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Steven Gerrard with busy and robust performances that earned him many plaudits from several pundits.

Coming on as a substitute in the final minutes of the 2008 Champions League final because of his superior penalty technique, Anderson also demonstrated his cool by slotting away United’s penultimate penalty against Chelsea’s Petr Cech.

In his third season with the club, Anderson also played a vital part in United’s third successive Premier League title win. Moreover, the midfielder managed to get onto the score-sheet for the first time in his Old Trafford career against Tottenham in a 3-1 win in his 78th appearance for the club.

But, by early 2010 a rumoured spat with the manager saw the youngster fall drastically out of favour. Anderson – who is only one appearance shy of a century for his club – was then linked with a loan move away from Manchester at the request of the manager. Anderson refused and it is reported that the Brazilian flew home to be with his family without the clubs permission. To add insult to injury he was later fined.

Nevertheless, his confrontation with the fiery Scot wasn’t the last United would see of him. Surviving the wrath of Sir Alex, the number 8 shirt made another appearance at West Ham in February. Unfortunately, though that would be the last game of his season. An injury to his left knee caused him to depart after 19 minutes at the Boelyn Ground.

That injury also cost him his chance of appearing in South Africa this summer. His performances at the Olympics in 2008 would’ve surely convinced Dunga that he had the ability to prosper at the world’s greatest football tournament. But, in an ironic reverse of fate, his place in the squad will be taken by United’s ill-famed Kleberson.

Tempers between Anderson and Sir Alex should cool as he continues to recover from his ailment this summer. The Samba-star is still in the infancy of his career and it would be a regrettable circumstance for both parties if he were to leave at such an early juncture. The youngster should take last season as a warning and use it to fire his way back into contention now that competition for his position is an extra year older.

Follow Me On Twitter: This week I’ve been moaning about World Cup referees who must’ve been born tomorrow.

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