It seems crazy to think that a world cup qualifier at home to minnows- no disrespect but let’s be honest- Northern Ireland could have any bearing on a player’s United career, but in some cases you have to wonder.
Nani’s performance for Portugal last night was pretty much typical for how his season’s been so far, poor crossing, an unwillingness to truly run at the defence and only the occasional flash of real class. I’ve defended Nani all season, in fact I’d go further and say I’ve defended him ever since he came to United but it’s becoming abundantly clear of late that things are far from right.
The fans have all but turned against him to the point where his omission from the squad against Newcastle was greeted with the kind of joy normally reserved for when Nemanja Vidic starts. Then there’s been the rumours of ‘training ground bust-ups’ ‘Sir Alex trying to find a club for Nani’ and the general mumblings that it’s become a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ the mercurial winger is sold.
Watching Nani struggle to truly ‘get at’ Ryan McGivern tonight, a player normally found warming Hibernian’s bench, it was difficult to shake the idea that this is a man not enjoying his football and not playing nearly well enough to silence his critics.
Even simple things such as taking a corner seemed beyond Nani and he all but disappeared for much of the second half evidently losing interest in helping his side rescue the game from one nil down in a rain soaked game. Although he did have one shot that went close towards the end Nani was practically invisible for large swathes of the match.
There are several questions that need asking when it comes to Nani’s performance. Does it really matter what United players do for their country? Will Sir Alex even have watched the game? To both of those you can probably say ‘no.’ One question that will need answering and could not be so favourable to Nani is “are we witnessing a player who needs a move and is no longer someone we can rely on”? I’d still like to see Nani stay with United for the rest of the season at least, but with showings like the one tonight, even for Portugal you cannot wonder just how long the winger will be considered someone good enough for a precious place in Sir Alex’s side.
Jonny Evans on the other hand, in the same game gave the sort of masterful performance that makes you wonder if that bid for Vidic needs considering. Evans was superb, under constant pressure as relentless attacks from the Portuguese side poured in.
Evans, by far Northern Ireland’s most accomplished player, proved it tonight, composed on the ball, looking for openings, getting forward and naturally putting in vital challenges, it was a stunning display.
With practically all United’s defenders having some form of injury problems, Evans was always going to be an important player and after last season it was obvious he can do an adequate job. Judging from last night’s game though, it seems Evans is more than ready to stake a claim as United’s number one centre back.
Am I being melodramatic about the importance of last night’s game? is it meaningless in terms of judging players? Or is there some weight to my musings? Feel free to comment, suggest and abuse below: