Anderson Luís de Abreu Oliveira (better known as Anderson-son-son at Old Trafford) has finally put an end to any lingering doubt about his Manchester United future by signing a new four and a half year contract. Undoubtedly United’s greatest ever Brazilian, the 22 year old has put in a number of barn-storming performances in recent weeks, which have not gone unnoticed by United fans, or management it seems. His role in the victory against Arsenal was as the attacking central midfielder behind Rooney, a position that he seems to relish, no matter how bad the Old Trafford pitch is. This news can only be seen as a massive boost to United, as although we remain unbeaten in the league and Europe, question marks are still there over our strongest possible midfield.
It is no surprise to hear that Xavi n’ Iniesta are once again competing for the Ballon D’Or recently, as the two diminutive Spaniards continue to sweep all that’s before them. One of them patrols the middle of the pitch, constantly finding the feet of his team-mates, as the other makes attacking runs and links up the play with the front men. A deadly combination that if was somehow moulded together would be called ‘a young Paul Scholes.’ And it is Scholes’ boots that seem to have become the hardest to fill at United since his ability to play week in week out has slowly declined. While Fletcher and Carrick have occupied the midfield and ‘done a job’ this season, Anderson has come into the frame like a man possessed. Maybe he has been playing for his contract, but there is not denying who has been United’s best central midfielder in recent weeks.
Since making his comeback against Rangers as a sub, he has helped demolish Blackburn, bagged his first Champion’s League goal and been instrumental in the defeat of one of our main rivals. The West Ham game remains a small blip on his run of games, but even then he didn’t have a particularly bad game. Even though he seems to have been around for a while now, he is still only 22 and deserves time to continue improving his game. Goal-scoring would be a start, but the signs are there with his strike against Valencia, and coming very close against Arsenal. Finding a replacement to Scholes may be impossible, but in Anderson United have a player who has the potential to go some way of emulating the Ginger Genius. I struggle to think of a midfield player off the top of my head who can pick up the ball in his own half, turn and slice through the opposition at the speed that Anderson does. His acceleration is awesome, and this is backed up by his ability to produce a pass through the eye of a needle. Now and again his decision-making leaves a lot to be desired, along with his wild shooting. And maybe his ability to win aerial battles in midfield. But while I clutch at straws, Xavi n’ Iniesta continue to prove that the little men now control midfield, and at 5ft 9” Anderson is a giant in comparison. But don’t be fooled by his height, or lack of it, because rarely is there a midfield battle that is lost by Anderson, who seems to possess great strength in holding the ball, or ‘class with brass’ as the song goes.
Hopefully Anderson will now get the run of games he needs in order to help his development, as his fitness can no longer be questioned. In a few year’s time, given he tweaks his game here and there, don’t be surprised if Ando receives his nomination for the Ballon D’Or, after driving United to another European Cup victory and Brazil to a World Cup win.