Anderson: Brazilian flop or the next Scholes?

by Jasveer Singh Gill

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Like the unicorn, the leprechaun and chocolate popcorn, the Brazilian footballer has taken on a mythical status in the modern day.
All flair and tricks with oodles of skill, the Brazilian is meant to signal all that is great about football, with the greatest Brazilian of them all (please keep any filthy jokes to yourself) Pele having coined the phrase “the beautiful game”.
Yet in Britain the Brazilian has more often than not flattered to deceive. Remember the likes of Mirandinha, Roque Junior, Branco and Jardel? Probably not and that is the point.
The successes of the Brazilian in England have been moderate at best. The likes of Gilberto Silva, Fabio Aurelio and Alex have done well but hardly set the Premiership alight, while Juninho of Middlesbrough is the only player that came close to actually showing the Premiership what a true Brazilian footballer is expected to be.
All over the world, most notably in the two other major football nations of Italy and Spain, Brazilians have usually stormed the league with their talent. That is yet to happen in England. The most expensive Brazilian in the Premier League that is still playing here is still teetering on the brink of whether he is deemed a success or failure.
Anderson signed for Manchester United in 2007 for approximately £17million and the fans greeted his signing the same way most fans would greet the signing of a potential Brazilian superstar. Clips of him at his best on youtube enthralled United fans who were expecting a young version of a future Ronaldinho at their club.
Anderson had the credentials to go with the fanfare he received too. He was the player of the 2005 under-17 World Championship and had shown pieces of unbelievable skill, as well as pace, strength and a decent eye for goal at his Brazilian club Gremio and than at FC Porto of Portugal.
At the time of his signing he was seen as one of the best young players in the world. At FC Porto he was used to playing in an attacking role, often just of a forward or on the left of the front three in a 4-3-3 formation.
For United he made his debut in central midfield and went on to play there for most of the 2007/2008 season. Without showing the kind of skill and flair that United fans had perhaps expected Anderson was still a huge success in his first season. He showed excellent strength and energy in the battle ground that is central midfield in the Premier League, whilst it was his ability to pass and move which really impressed. In direct contests against the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Steven Gerrard Anderson came out on top and United seemed to have found a new hero.
He went on to score a penalty during the shoot-out which saw United win that seasons Champions League but since then he has seemed to have suffered second and third season syndrome. Anderson has not only failed to match the performances of his first season with United but his performances have been so bad since than that he may have even washed away the memory of United fans.
A lack of goals, lack of creativity and lack of fitness have seen him slide way down the United midfield pecking order, with rumours of a move to clubs such as Newcastle and Panathinaikos showing how far he has fallen. Was he not suited to a central midfield role in the Premier League? Was his Brazilian fun filled life style affecting his performances? Or was it simply the curse of the Brazilian footballer in Britain striking again? Whatever it was, he has appeared to have shaken it off.
It seems his club manager Sir Alex Ferguson is determined to get the best out of him, having said in 2009 that he was the future replacement for the legendary Paul Scholes, which is huge appraisal.
Thus this season, after an injury ravaged and overall poor season last year, Anderson has started getting chances to play again is seeming to find his samba rhythm again. The fans would probably like to see more of the Brazilian in Anderson but Ferguson is happy to see him keep the United midfield ticking over, although they both would like him to contribute more than the two goals in 109 games he has managed so far.
Ferguson is currently building his 6th great United team and he has envisioned Anderson as an integral part of it. If he can fulfil this destiny than no doubt he will be the Premiership’s greatest ever Brazilian, although he does not have much competition there.

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  • Darren

    the term headless chicken springs to mind

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