Watching Anderson play for United, reminds me of watching Ryan Giggs in the late 90’s, early noughties, people may forget this, but contrary to revisionist history, the Welsh wonder, was not always a stellar performer.
Yes, there was THAT goal, against Arsenal, but there was also THAT miss, which seemed to sum up Giggs around this period, sublime one game, anonymous the next.
The same description could be added to United’s Brazilian midfielder, I remember standing in a pub two seasons ago arguing the case for him to be kept, while a few other Reds seemed to think he was never going to be the answer to our future midfield. All the drooling over Anderson’s first few games this season, has quickly gone to question marks, straight through to downright disbelief as his performance levels have plummeted.
The game against Norwich was a case in point, he may have scored but it was without a doubt the worst shift I’ve seen him put in for quite some time. His passing was simply dreadful, his movement, sluggish and his drive non-existent at times. The main statement being shouted by Reds, is that once Tom Cleverley returns, so will Anderson’s form. After the Chelsea game, that was my first thought: ‘give Anderson Cleverley alongside him, making those runs and giving him an easier option and his form will return,’ yet to be perfectly honest, this argument is deeply flawed. For starters, a player who’s now entering his fifth season at Old Trafford, should be able to perform alongside anyone in midfield.
Do you think if Jonny Evans could only play alongside Rio Ferdinand, he’d still be at United? Or if Michael Carrick had to have Darren Fletcher next to him, he’d have been given a new contract last season?
No. Of course not, a player for United, has to be able to adapt to having different midfield partners, Roy Keane was just as awesome alongside Paul Ince as he was Paul Scholes or Nicky Butt- admittedly Scholes was his best partner, but Keano still performed well, whoever he was alongside.
It’s very harsh to compare anyone to the great Roy Keane, but the point I’m making is Anderson cannot just be an asset as long as Cleverley’s there, otherwise he’s almost useless. Imagine the scenario -‘Cleverley’s out for a month- that means we lose Ando as well’ it’s ridiculous.
My view of Anderson is he needs to be kept in the team, regardless of his form for at least a few months, ever since he arrived at Old Trafford, he’s been in and out of the side more often than Ji Sung Park, playing a great game one week, then going missing, then getting dropped. Playing a great game on his return, then another great game, then having three poor ones, then getting droppped. Playing a great game for the reserves, then being brought back into the first team….you get the point. Anderson suffers from inconsistency, of that there is no doubt, but this constant cycle he’s been in of having a run of say four games, then missing four has done him nor the club any real good. Anderson still has a big question mark over him, there’s still no certainty that he’ll be the answer to United’s midfield problems, after well over 100 games for the Reds.
What he needs, is a run, a proper run, regardless of how his form dips. That’s insane! I hear you cry, after all we’ve got Liverpool, City and tough Champions League games coming up, we can’t afford to carry passengers. Well, I’m sorry but if we really want long term answers then we may have to risk the short term gains.
Anderson should be kept in the side, regardless of whether Tom Cleverley’s fit, until at least the end of November, let’s give him a real run, where there’s no excuses. If at the end of that run, he’s been the player we saw against Arsenal more often than the one who turned up for Norwich then, happy days. If not, it’s time to realise that January’s transfer window may be tailor made for that midfield signing we didn’t make in the Summer.