No one will ever argue that the 5th of April 2009 wasn’t a seminal day in the history of Manchester United. As John Carew and Gabby Agbonlahor had somehow conspired to wrench title number 18 from United’s grasp and hand number 19 to the dreaded Scouse enemy, all hope seemed lost.
It was very nearly the worst day in our Premier League history. Nearly. As if written by the hand of Sir Matt Busby himself a 17 year old debutant who’d gate crashed the squad following a hat-trick against Newcastle reserves only a few days earlier, bagged a stunning winner to all but hand the title to United.
As if that wasn’t enough another winning goal the following week away at Sunderland cemented the idea that Reds were witnessing the emergence of a gifted striker who would surely only get better with age.
The following season, injury restricted “Kiko” to just 10 appearances in all competitions and despite the fact he only scored one goal- a consolation against Chelsea at Old Trafford, the feeling among fans was that he still had a lot to offer, but perhaps needed a bit of time.
2010-11 was the season which finally made more than a few Reds wonder if Macheda really would ‘come good’ or if his blistering start had been something of a false dawn. One goal in 12 appearances for United meant that the Italian striker now had two goals in 22 games for the Reds in the past two seasons. What made Kiko’s reputation even more tarnished was a loan spell at Italian club Sampdoria which saw him score just one goal – in the Coppa Italia- in a total of 16 appearances which also saw La Samp relegated.
Another loan spell last season this time at Queen’s Park Rangers- am I alone thinking we really shouldn’t bother loaning that side players anymore?- saw Kiko play a hat-trick of games without a goal, a record he emulated for the Reds.
One factor that’s always gone in Macheda’s favour is his age- even now after 50 top level appearances he’s still only 21 years old. The worry is though that when you do watch Macheda, he often doesn’t look like a top class striker, certainly not one good enough to really challenge for a place in United’s side. Plus with the likes of Chicharito and Danny Welbeck only in their early twenties and the possibility of Will Keane returning from injury and making an impression on the first team, time may not be enough for Macheda.
The final reason to move Kiko on, other than a record of six goals in over 50 appearances is were he to move on now, there’s a good chance he’d rightly be remembered for that fateful afternoon in April ’09, rather than for the mediocre performances which have often succeeded it.