Date: 12th May 2011 at 2:43am
Written by:

Rafael and Tevez

"Don't call me Fabio!"

Despite many claiming this current United team isn’t as good as previous ones we can always point to our defence as the foundation of our success.

With Edwin Van der sar enjoying the twilight of his career and the formidable partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at the heart of defence we rarely go far wrong. Throw in the flying Frenchman Patrice Evra on the left and you could argue that our backline remains the best in the world. One question mark persists though, how do you solve a problem like the right-back?

We started off the season with five players who can play right-back. But Gary Neville was never going to play many games, 3 in fact. The United legend called time on his illustrious career at the turn of the year as he saw his time was up. He felt his job was done and there was a ready-made replacement – Rafael.

Speaking after his retirement, Neville said: “You can now say we’ve got a first-choice back-four for the first time in a few years.”

“Rafael’s always had ability. He gets to the ball quickly, he is aggressive, he defends his position well, he is tough, courageous, good on the ball, he gets forward well and provides energy in attack.”

He added: “But he has really developed in the last six months with games and experience.

“He has also got a great attitude. He is more than capable of going on to become United’s right-back for many years.”

It takes Neville back to when he was a younger member of the United squad, making his own way forward in a dressing room containing the likes of Roy Keane, Peter Schmeichel and Eric Cantona.

“I remember when I was young defender you need that time to mature and get experience,” he said.

“We haven’t had a consistent right-back in the last couple of years. I have been around. Wes Brown and John O’Shea have played some games as well as Rafael, but in the last four or five months we’ve had a consistent performer in that position.”

One who Neville failed to mention was Rafael’s twin Fabio. The Brazilian has taken his recent foray into the first-team by the scruff of the neck and has been favoured by Ferguson in key games against Schalke, Chelsea and Arsenal of late while the more experienced Wes Brown and John O’Shea have had to make do with lesser roles.

United fans have been impressed with the mature performances from Fabio as many assumed he was Evra’s understudy at left-back, many have claimed they prefer Fabio to Rafael as he is a lot calmer, more assured and a more competent defender than his brother.

So will Fergie stick with Fabio, reinstate Rafael for the crunch game at Wembley or will he go for the tried and trusted type of John O’Shea or Wes Brown?

John O’Shea has actually played the most out of the four contenders (39 appearances) and played in that forgettable night in Rome while the Irishman has also performed to a decent standard this season. O’Shea’s versatility, height and experience will be noted when Fergie chooses who will make the final cut.

It’s been a strange season for the Big, Bad Wesley Brown. Since retiring from international duty after being snubbed for the World Cup he reportedly had a spat with the manager. The argument was over a night out organised by United’s players. Brown is understood to have been told by boss Fergie he could not go – although it is not clear why – leading to the row. The defender, 31, apparently stood his ground and Ferguson was described as ‘incandescent’ as they traded verbal blows.

However, it seemed they had reconciled when Brown captained and scored the only goal in the 1-0 win over Crawley Town in February. Despite this it seems it was too little too late for Wes. Brown would have been my first-choice had he been playing regularly this season as he was instrumental to our success in 2008, supplying the cross to Ronaldo to open the scoring at the Luzhniki. But as he’s been left out a lot this year it would be too much to expect for the fans favourite to slot in against a team of Barcelona’s calibre.

With Rafael and Fabio always tempted to foray forward would O’Shea be the best player to deal with the likes of Messi and Villa? Or will the energy and aggression of the Da Silva twins be what’s needed to stop Barcelona’s onslaught?

Anyway, despite starting the season with five candidates for the right-back position it seems we’re down to three. Rafael, Fabio or O’Shea against Barca? Take your pick and let us know below!

Follow me on Twitter: @saadnoor and Redflagflyinghigh @RFFH


22 responses to “O’Shea, Rafael or Fabio, Who Should Be United’s Right Back At Wembley?”

  1. David says:


  2. richard says:

    I Like all of the options but think that Fabio or Rafael would be better choices for the Barca match. Reasons:
    1. Low center of gravity allows them to match the sharp movements of Messi, Pedro or if Alves gets that far forward
    2. Additionally they are very fast over short distances which will be required to solve the Messi or Pedro conundrum.
    3. They both close down space very, very quickly and will not allow Barca players time on the ball
    4. They both have great technical ability and can maintain possession (CRITICAL)
    5. They are super confident and know that they belong on the same park as Messi and Co.

    • lamar says:

      i’d take fabio over rafael bcause fabio seems to b calmer than rafael. WE DONT NEED A RED CARD!

  3. Gab says:

    Evra has not been playing to his best this season, i would start Fabio at left and Rafael at right. This would give them final experience, and both at the same time on the field would give them less pressure and their tenacity will be instrumental to our style of play against the Azulgrana. Viva Da Silva!! MUFC ‘Till I die.

    • keith says:

      Idiot. As if SAF would gamble with two inexperienced fullbacks in such a crucial game. Evra will be the first name on the sheet.

    • Sule says:

      Evra is good when man u is attacking, even that, he at times try to be a ronaldo. He however appears to be the weakest link in the back four. Remember his role when we lost to bayern away last season, as well as his performances against chelsea when he allowed luiz to equalize for chelsea. He nearly gave away a penalty when he fouled remerez in the first leg of the CL.In the 2nd leg Drogba popped up in his position and scored before Park raped it up.

      • Dee says:

        Evra looks great when he’s attacking, but his lack of pace when he’s disposed is a little worrying; thats where the Da Silvas have an edge over him.
        I tend to think the only reason we havent exactly noted this flaw in Evra’s play coz he always has a paced winger (Nani or Park) to cover him up. Maybe starting the twins and having Evra and Oshea on the bench might do us some good.

  4. Keith says:

    Fabio over Rafael based on current form and health….

  5. jonathan says:

    I would’ve said Rafael all season right up till a couple weeks ago; but Fabio is making a strong case as we’ve seen a lot more from him than we were able to before. Rafael is a bit more exciting, but as you said Fabio is generally calmer and more disciplined defensively which are non-negotiable characteristics against Barca in a final. Though Rafael is a bit more gifted offensively, he does seem to give the ball away more than Fabio. While that is probably a result of being more attack-minded, I’m not sure if that’s what’s most crucial from a RB in this match.

    However, I wouldn’t be against Rafael getting the nod either, so my main concern is that a DaSilva is picked at RB. Richard pretty much summed up the reasons for their selection already.

  6. Baldrick says:

    Rafael to start, Fabio on the bench.

  7. Jumping Jesus says:

    Raphael For me. There is not a lot for me to choose between the twins, but given Raphael’s got a little more 1st team experience, I would opt for him with Fabio on the bench to cover both fullback positions

  8. Ochieng Geophrey says:

    I would prefer Fabio to Rafae who is injury prone and Oshea who is utility player and should be kept on the bench for any emergency call.

  9. BillyG says:

    Rafael is defenetly the best one he has more experience than fabio in nig games,Oshra is not quick so david villa will tear him apart or pedro..i will go for Rafael,or Fabio.

  10. chatsworth says:

    Rafael at right back until he gets booked then bring on Fabio. Barca are likely to try and get him booked.