Da Silva twins can help alleviate Old Trafford’s injury curse
Double acts come in all shapes and sizes. You can have good ones; Batman and Robin or Morecambe and Wise for instance. On the other hand, you can have duos you’d rather not; Jedward or even Clegg and Cameron. The latest twosome, Rafael and Fabio da Silva, look like they fit in the category of the former.
With Luis Nani out until April (edit – he’s magically recovered!), the two who could possibly replace him comes in the shape of either, or both, of the twins. They were efficient, excellent even, against Arsenal in the recent Cup tie and look like they are able to deal with the monumental task of filling in for such a player.
Perhaps the timely return of Antonio Valencia from the sidelines makes up a touch for the loss of Nani. But, while the Ecuadorian recovers to full fitness and Nani kicks his heels in the medical room, it is crucial that Manchester United find someone else to step up and guide them through their difficult run-in. Park is unfit and Gabriel Obertan is out of favour – possibly, the duo can fill in a more offensive role than what they might be used to. Yet, there is every indication they can succeed on the flanks.
What epitomises the modern winger is to be able to adapt to situations. It isn’t just about switching flanks, however, and a player must be able cut in and to attack the box. Technique, touch and an eye for the pass takes you a long way, too. The Brazilians still have a long way to go yet and there is much about their game that is left to fine-tune.
Yet, as we’ve seen in the past when they have played as a full back, they have much energy and are prepared to bomb forward. You could argue that a stint as a winger would actually compliment their game. It is true that their defensive game needs a lot of work, and Rafael, as we’re all too familiar, is sometimes naïve and doesn’t particularly thrive under pressure from an opposing player. But, it is nature of the fool to dismiss. His defensive abilities will improve with gained experience so even if he or his brother fails to make the conversion to a winger for whatever reason, there are certainly no concerns of their future in the United defence. But they can potentially further their game higher up the field and become usefully versatile.
Against Arsenal, they did lack some positional discipline and sometimes went adrift in their new position – but the first goal in that game, where Rafael started the move from his own half which ended in a Fabio goal after much good interplay with his team mates, typified what we might come to expect from the two. And throughout, they showed great awareness of the players around them and switched seamlessly from defence to attack and from the flanks to central forwards at times. Their defensive qualities that they already possess will certainly help them tracking back if need be.
Rafael and Fabio are not alien to the midfield role. The latter was his national side’s top goalscorer playing as a left midfielder in the U-17 World Cup in 2007. He captained that side, too, for those asking for any more interesting details of that particular event. So, amidst the dreaded curse of injuries that have left United short on options, the deployment of these two might help alleviate that and perhaps the anticipated problems would be a blessing in disguise. For these two anyway…