Analysis Opinion Insight

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Nani: Once A Boy, Now A Man

It's stunned me how quickly Nani has gone from pariah and outcast among pundits and fans alike to one of the integral and most vibrant of attacking threats for the Red Devils. With a fee thought to be in the vicinity of 14-17m, Nani arrived amid high hopes, something to which the young lad looked to be revelling following friendly strikes against Shenzen, Guangzhou Pharmaceutical and Glentoran. After coming on as a substitute against Reading to make his Premier League debut, Nani bagged a 30 yard scorcher to sink Spurs 1-0 at Old Trafford, before setting up goals against Sunderland and Everton, both 1-0 wins for United.

Nani's purple patch on debut quickly made him a fans favourite, something he looked to have cemented with his second Premier League goal, starting the carnage in a 4-1 win over Middlesbrough. The good times kept rolling when he picked up the Man Of The Match honor against Arsenal in the fourth round of the FA Cup after collecting a goal and two assists in a 4-0 win.

When Ronaldo finally completed his "dream move" to Real Madrid it was expected that Nani would be a sturdy replacement if not an exciting, attacking playmaker in his own right. As he consistently failed to live up to expectations that may have been set too high, the favouritism that Nani had cultivated among the United faithful started to wane and decline, leading many pundits and fans to call for his head and departure from the club, no doubt to be replaced by another highly expensive foreign import. The head hunt for Nani only grew as United added a reliable Antonio Valencia to the side who, along with a revitalised Park Ji-Sung looked to be United's wingers into the near future.

Nani though, had other ideas, and stormed back into the side with goals against Wigan Athletic, Arsenal (though this has since been decreed an own goal by Almunia), Bayern Munich (2), Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland. More impressively than his goal tally this campaign is Nani's contribution to the assists column, bagging 9 assists this season, including helping set up crucial goals against Arsenal, Portsmouth, Fulham and Bolton.

My feeling around Luis Carlos Almeida da Cunha is that he has a real opportunity to cement himself as a mainstay in the United side, as an attacking outlet with his speed, trickery and lateral vision. Nani has the real chance of becoming United's left sided option, as well as a central dangerman. Comment and give me your opinion readers, I'd love to discuss Nani or any other United topics with you.

Mr Bowls

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