As Abraham Lincoln said during his legendary Gettysburg address: “Luis Carlos Almeida da Cunha is a supremely talented individual who’s good for at least 10 goals plus 15 assists a season, you’ve just got to take the rough with the smooth.”
While the Great Emancipator may have been a Nani fan, many Reds seem to be turning on the mercurial winger at an alarming rate, so much so that a mate who was at Goodison informs me one “fan” even crossed the line with his abuse of the three-time Premier League winner.
Nani seems to be the preferred whipping boy for many Reds and while I’m usually quick to defend the former Sporting man, I’m beginning to at least empathise, if not totally agree with his detractors. Our number seventeen is yet to truly turn up this season and some of his performances have been completely woeful. On Sunday, I was probably in the minority when I didn’t think Nani was the worst United player on the pitch as judging from the social networks, not to mention Sir Alex Ferguson’s substitution it was the winger who was the most culpable for our awful first-half showing. Flashback a few days earlier and against Galatasaraay, Nani’s performance was the one that had the vast majority of Reds foaming at the mouth.
Against Wigan Nani didn’t exactly cover himself in glory but was lively, had a hand in the first goal and at least began both halves well before all but disappearing. Southampton saw Nani come on as a sub and deliver the match winning corner, although even that good deed saw many United fans simply stating “he should do that more often” rather than praising his excellent cross.
This season Nani has shown more of the bad side of his play than the good, the ‘Nani show’ as I often term it, which involves wayward shooting, amateur dramatics, upsetting team mates and the occasional piece of brilliance has been in full effect, with only the ‘pieces of brilliance’ being generally absent.
With his contract dispute still seemingly lingering on, more than a few United fans have suggested it’s time to part ways with Nani, that we no longer need him and can rely on the likes of Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and maybe even Shinji Kagawa to operate on the wings. There’s also the prospect of getting a decent return for the Portuguese winger and maybe investing it in another player who’s less erratic than our Michael Jackson circa 1984 look-a-like.
Nani’s been fortunate somewhat in his recent flawed performances as with Young out injured, there’s a lack of real competition on the left side of midfield. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nani’s given another start in the game against Spurs to try and put his recent debacles behind him, the question is “how many bad performances can/will Sir Alex Ferguson accept before he loses patience?”
Like Lincoln, Nani’s supporters will point to his assists/goals record which is consistently impressive season in season out. Over the past two years we’ve seen Nani contribute twenty goals and even more assists, so it would be foolish to claim he isn’t effective. The inconsistency of Young also makes me feel that Nani may be given at least until the end of the season to prove he’s worth the contract his theatrical little heart desires.
I like Nani, I always have and am belief he’s worth the frustration he gives me, even if at times it’s hard to defend him. Should he be sold in January or relegated to a mere bit-part role at the club? No, but he’s drastically got to improve his performances if he’s going to stop the United faithful from turning on him in the same manner they have for Patrice Evra.
Nani’s played eight games for club and country in just over five weeks and there’s no doubt he could do with a rest and perhaps even taking out of the firing line. Maybe resting the live wire winger against Spurs could be a start, giving him the chance to have more than a week off and the chance to come back against Cluj next Tuesday and show exactly why he’s still got a future at United.
Is the end nigh for Nani? Does he need to sort it out or am I being melodramatic? Feel free to comment, suggest and abuse below: