After being on the end of a clumsy challenge in yesterdays Charity Shield, United’s Brazilian rightback, Rafael, looks set to miss the opening FIVE games of the season with a hamstring injury triggering a sympathetic and disappointed response from fans.
A few years ago this news would not have been met with anything more than a comical, unsurprised sniff. Now however, such is the rise in form and fortunes of Rafael, it feels like a blow to United’s and David Moyes’ early season plans.
With ‘big’ fixtures dominating the opening five games of United’s campaign and with the apparent difficulties surrounding the ins-and-outs of the squad, the last thing Moyes needed right now was any further disruptions.
Rafael has one match of a suspension to serve after his red-card against Chelsea last season. That ruled him out of Sundays opener versus Swansea anyway but now either Jones, Smalling or brother Fabio look the likely options to deputise while Rafael battles to be fit for the Manchester derby on September 22nd.
Huge credit must go to the player for cementing his name at rightback since those injury-prone, dive-in-out-of-control, always-out-of-position days of just TWO years ago.
His rise however does back-up the argument that SAF’s constant rotation at rightback did nothing to assist Rafael’s progress or help the club find a permanent replacement for Gary Neville. It was only thanks to simultaneous injuries to Smalling and Jones that allowed Rafael to flourish under a prolonged spell of games. Players need games.
I was certainly one of those fans who wasn’t convinced Rafael would become reliable enough in his defending duties to warrant his inclusion for his attacking ability. He has however, thanks to that prolonged run of games, improved beyond recognition and, just in case you’ve forgotten, here’s what he can do going forward!
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