Individuals are starting to take responsibility at Old Trafford
Anderson, the Brazilian chap who doesn’t half know about swing-bowling, went off to a standing ovation towards the end of the Arsenal game knowing he’d done himself proud, playing one of his best games in a Manchester United shirt. He was coolness personified – but had the crowd capacity been around 70,000 less, I’d guarantee you he’d be cartwheeling too the bench.
Yes, it was only a 1-0 win. But, heck, was it not an improvement on some of the below-par performances we’ve seen this season? Not just Anderson, but the rock that is Nemanja Vidic, the most under-rated player on these shores, Park ji-Sung and even Michael Carrick. Certainly, not in my eyes anyway, there was no hyperbole in that last sentence. And then there was Rafael – don’t tell Fabio, but he’s my favourite of the Da Silva’s.
Anderson – A man rejuvenated, reincarnated and reinvented
In the form of his life, Anderson typified on Monday night what central midfielders in the modern game should strive to be. At times, he was playing just off Rooney (who I’ll come to) with much success, and had the opposition in his pockets for the duration. He’s finally started to come out of his shell – maybe he isn’t the ‘Next Ronaldinho’ as someone made him out to be before he had signed for United, but he looks every bit of the midfielder fans had hoped to see. Here are some fitting superlatives to describe his performance against Arsenal: Excellent, exquisite, first-rate, magnificent, world-class, top-notch, exceptional, exemplary, invaluable, outstanding. Couldn’t put it better.
- Anderson has two goals in 110 appearances for United. Prolific.
Impressive Park will be missed
This campaign, Park ji-Sung has been impressive, very impressive. Yet, what a shame that Park, another in a rich vein of form, will potentially miss up to seven games representing South Korea in the Asian Cup. Sometimes unfairly maligned, a bit like Berbatov, for being ‘useless’, Park is anything but. As you’ll continue to see this seaosn.
- Four out of Park’s 22 goals with United have come against Arsenal.
Nani, Rooney, Rafael: Full of verve
While commentators and pundits alike continue to salivate over Gareth Bale, there is one man who possibly matches him for pace and verve. That’s Rafael. Like Anderson, it’s all been a tale of naivety and inconsistency. And to use the clichéd saying, he really is coming into his own. Wayne Rooney has slowly arrived on the scene – despite his spot-kick blues. Rooney is back, yet the only thing missing is the product. He’s doing everything else right – dropping deep, creating chances, linking up, the lot. And then there’s Nani. Eleven assists this season? Excellent.
- United have not lost in over 40 League games when Nani has started.
Vidic: The human rock
So often, the saviour of Manchester United. Paired with Rio Ferdinand again, the Serbian has flourished – and as a result United have leaked far less goals. The captaincy role has too breathed life into his game – not suggestion for one minute that it was flawed, because it wasn’t, but Vidic’s new-found confidence and his enthusiasm, thanks to the signing of a long-term contract in the summer, has seen him bordering on perfection. Against Arsenal, he was authoritative, dealing with anything aerially and not at all afraid to hoof the ball into Row Z.
I stress that, despite oozing with optimism, that United have been far from consistent. However, whilst not quite gelling to full effect, individuals like Park, like Anderson and Rafael have upped their game. There’s reason to feel confident ahead of the Chelsea game on Sunday. Onwards and upwards!