Nani – A Manchester United Success Story, or not?

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Has a player in United’s history ever split public opinion the way Nani does?

I guess Veron was in a similar boat to Nani and it’s only now, 10 years on, that Veron’s memory is one of ‘mis-use’ rather than use-less.

Does Diego Forlan fit into the category of ‘players who split opinion’? I’m not sure, although he’s another one who fans now seem willing to look back on and suggest he might have been mis-used rather than simply a bad buy.

Peter Davenport used to split opinion, so too Ralphy Milne. Gary Birtles didn’t split opinion he was simply considered useless by 100% of anyone and everyone who watched him play for United, in his case United just wasn’t the right club for him.

Players come and go, some fit in where others don’t, that doesn’t make them a bad player it just means it wasn’t right for them. I mean, look at Torres to Liverpool. We all thought he was destined for Old Trafford and when he moved to Liverpool and Mourinho said “he won’t suit the Premier League”, we all prayed he wouldn’t, but….it didn’t take long for [surely?] most of us to stand back and think about what could’ve been. Torres at Liverpool was a match made in heaven and thankfully for us they managed to fluff-their-lines when the chance of a first Premier League title presented itself in 2008/09 with Torres the main reason behind their season of relative success.

Nani joined United in 2007 but, despite being voted Players Player of the Year 2010/11, has never really convinced the Old Trafford faithful or management that he’ll fulfil his obvious talent, many suggest the weight of carrying ‘The Next Ronaldo’ tag around with him has hindered his progress. I personally believe the inability to shrug of his own belief that he’s potentially the next player better than Ronaldo is more likely to have affected his development.

Yes Nani can, on his day, be brilliant, but on others (most others) he’s nothing short of infuriating.

However, known to have coined a few phrases in his 25yr tenure, Sir Alex coined a phrase with Nani that’s now often heard when describing a player who’s suddenly shown sudden improvement. “the penny looks like it’s finally dropped”, said Sir Alex when asked about Nani’s performance at the start 0f season 2010. Well maybe it had, but that still didn’t lead to him getting the simple stuff right and becoming less of a frustration to all concerned, he just masked his deficiencies with goals and assists. That’s all well and good I hear you say, goals and assists win games, of course they do, but when they dry up and behavioural issues begin to arise, the cracks begin to reappear and questions will inevitably resume.

His fans (of which I am definitely not one of them) will point to his assists during 2010/11 and his magnificent goals throughout his United career, but his detractors will quickly counter with his otherwise poor pass completion stats (game after game)…..or at least they would’ve done up until last week. Now they have far more serious concerns. (more about that in a moment)

Let’s put Nani’s United career into perspective, and what better way than to make a few comparisons.

Ronaldo: Spent 6yrs at United making 292 (245 starts + 47 subs) appearances for the club, scoring 118 goals at a rate of 0.40 p/match. He was eventually sold for a record breaking £80M.

Nani: Spent 6yrs (and counting) at the club making 201 (and counting) (160 starts + 41 subs) appearances scoring 38 goals at a rate of 0.19 p/match.  Nani, it is rumoured, could leave the club this January for a potential £15M (less than we paid for his potential).

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Nani isn’t even in the same league as Ronaldo, he simply hasn’t got the tools Ronaldo has or the attitude.

The latest rumour doing the rounds is that Davide Petrucci has more damage than initially suspected after a training ground bust up with Nani in which Nani took it upon himself to attack Petrucci not once, but twice at the clubs Carrington headquarters during the same training session.

Surely that’s called time on his United career with Juventus waiting in the wings and the player himself disillusioned at a club where his goals p/match ratio ironically matches that of the afore mentioned, brunt of all fans jokes, Gary Birtles! (look it up if you don’t believe me)

What do you think? Should Sir Alex and the club stick by him and work with him some more or is he fresh out of chances and it’s time to cash in (or out – depending on which way you’re looking at it) on him? Is United the right club for Nani or was it just too much for him?

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