Date: 7th November 2010 at 1:00pm
Written by:

Frustrating? Laughable? Whatever your perspective, there is little doubt that Bébé was less than impressive against Wolves yesterday. Seven missed crosses were met with groans from the United faithful, and jeers from the two Wolves fans tucked neatly in the corner of my chosen hostelry, while the player himself suffered the ultimate ignominy: the substituted substitute. But what, apart from the fact that his game clearly needs work, can we learn from Bébé’s early steps?

Judging young players is always a delicate operation. A good friend who shall remain nameless once told me that there was no way ‘that skinny Ronaldo with stupid hair’ was ever going to make it, while more recently Nani and Darren Fletcher have been written off by some United fans as being well short of the class required. Patience is the rarest of attributes in modern football, and it is important to remember that Bébé should not, at this stage of his United career, be anywhere near the first team.

It took long-term, short-term and inevitable injuries to Valencia, Nani and Hargreaves — plus a minor ‘flu epidemic — for Bébé to end up on the field yesterday, and there’s a world of difference between playing from (almost) the start against fresh opposition, and the late-game lesser-fixture cameos that his season has comprised so far. Add to that the patchwork nature of the team, and his less-than stellar performance starts to acquire some context.

Not only is the lad only twenty; in footballing terms, he’s a very young twenty. To pluck a random comparison from the air, Chelsea’s new midfield hope Josh McEachran is, at 17, three years younger than Bébé. But McEachran has been attached to the Chelsea academy since the age of eight, meaning he’s had nine years at a top-flight academy to learn his game. Bébé, by contrast, was playing amateur football until he was eighteen, has had one season in the Portuguese second division, and has suddenly ended up at the greatest club in the world. It’s a wonder he can clear his head enough to put his boots on.

In some ways it was encouraging to see the crosses keep disappearing into the crowd. Nobody could have blamed the lad for choosing to play a simpler, safer option, rather than risk another public failure. The fact that Bébé was willing to keep betting on his erratic crossing ability shows that, while he may not always get it right, he is willing to try. For myself, I would rather United were represented by footballers that take risks, that try things, even if they don’t come off.

Sometimes, a safe footballer is a cowardly footballer, and crossing can be taught. Yesterday’s performance showed us just how far Bébé has to come if he is to become a Manchester United player, and it’s a long way. Encouragingly, it also showed that he might just have the character to make it.


20 responses to “Bébé will need to walk before he can run”

  1. Don says:

    Lets not forget how he consistently beat his man to get into those crossing opportunities

  2. bling says:

    It’s hard enough when you have the media waiting for a player to have a bad game so that they can cut their throat,But it is worst when their own fan are doing it.It’s time for us fan to get behind the players and let them know that we believe in them.Bebe will learn from the other players at the club,he still have a lot of hard work to do, Ferie will help him.United we stand united we fall.

  3. HV says:

    wth? why are the fans jus criticising him and not supporting him? he jus needs some practice on his crossing, but him getting past the defender is one way of showing the potential he has. jus give him time. u can’t be born a star. you need hard work to help you out. when he scored 2 goals in the past weeks, you didn’t say hes shit and said he has potential. jus have faith and patient boys…he jus need some practice.

  4. GallasOfChelsea says:

    Bebe will come good not doubt about it. He’s made a significant improvement since jetting in at Old Trafford. He’s far better than some players we have tolerated at United over the last few years. If fellows like O’shea can be given the opportunity to prove themselves at United when they are clearly inadequate in all ways, then Bebe deserves more than double such opportunities. He’s technically gifted, can take on opposition players head on without intimidation, his crosses are wanting but that’s something he can work on. Given time, this lad is even better than Valencia because on top of being strong, fast and tall just like Antonio, his game is even more varied unlike the more predictable one dimensional game played by the Ecuador winger. SAF is known to be a stubborn Manager who will do anything to prove critics wrong. Although i haven’t supported him for keeping hold of the flop that’s Berbatov, i am fully behind him in Bebe’s case. HE’LL SURELY COME GOOD

  5. Bobby says:

    I was equally disappointed that he kept crossing those ball to the fans. One thing for sure I know he can do better is to keep learning from the old folks, work on his English, he can surely develop perhaps not from the wings but he looks a player who can take on his opponent with direct approach. W

  6. Kevin Zurich says:

    just give him time and lets get behind the lad!!! whats wrong with so many of you? do you just support the *star*players?? he’ll be alright! B E L I E V E!!!

  7. bond says:

    i have hope,u see a lad dat wil be a great,u wil knw,he is street kid plying his trade in d streets. He wil come gud just like ronaldo,fletcher,nani,diego forlan,g rossi

  8. bond says:

    pls can somebody help me ask sir alex ferguson what john o’shea is doin in manchester united for God’s sake,we are tired of o’shea.especially in our midfield of all places.

  9. biggy says:


  10. marks says:

    I have faith in both him, Kiko and Obertan. More faith than in Anderson who has had his time and not improved. Both are young and in the case of Obertan are gelling more and more each game. Last season the same booing fans were begging for us to flog Park. I hope those fans held their heads in shame in the last two games.

    If he was subbed Vs Wolves it is because his stamina is not yet ready for a PL 90 mins. He came on after 5 minutes and played 70 minutes. He had a bad day and will be back. We needed a win and there was kiko on the bench. Tactically we won and maybe rather being seen as a slight on Bebe, possibly could be seen as a tactical change that in May/june time we may be glad of if we win the league.