Thursday 16 July 2009

The peculiar case of the flying Portuguese winger

"Manchester United have replaced Cristiano Ronaldo with a young protege called Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha."

Now that is not a headline you are going to see anytime soon.

Yes, Cristiano has left us. Yes, United will almost definitely produce another "young protege" off the production line (ours, or someone else's!) and YES...Mr da Cunha is already the multi-million pound property of Manchester United. The problem you might ask? He goes by the nickname of 'Nani'

As we know, dear Nani came from the same feeder school as Ronaldo, and arrived as the next big thing from Portugal. Fast, skillful, with step-overs 'til the cows came home. Sound familiar? With a price tag of around £15 million (almost a third more than it cost us to purchase our former number 7) we all thought "WHAT a bargain!"

So what the hell has happened?!?!

Now I've watched Nani in the flesh many times. I was there when he scored his first goal for the club which was a 30 yard blockbuster against Spurs. The promise in those white boots of his are undoubted. But the facts are clear. Last season was a huge let down for the player. At best, looking mildly out of place in the first team, to normally, playing the role of the invisible man who couldn't even see himself!

Now do not get me wrong. I have had no problem with the boy's application. He will run, he will tackle (albeit like Paul Scholes) and he TRYS. However, effort isn't enough. Not for a flair player who's job it is to beat the last man, cross inch perfect balls and, every now and then, scare the goalkeeper whitless with a monster strike from no-mans land. All of these things are Nani's job.

2010 will either be the making of Nani the Man, or it will be the year that Nani the Player is confined to the scrapheap that both Kleberson and Djemba Djemba keep warm at night. In fact, he may not even get a season to prove it. I feel if the manager can manufacture the purchase of Douglas Costa, or Alexi Sanchez, both exciting flair players, then that will be all she wrote for the lad. However, with transfer fees through the roof, with average skilled centre backs being offered £300,000 per week to play for a health experiment in sky blue, and a Galactico factory being built in the centre of Spain, maybe..just maybe...young Nani will get one last crack at the whip.

Lets hope he takes his chance.....should he actually get it.

"Boss! I found him" - Rio just beats Giggsy in finding the wayward winger

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