Date: 14th February 2011 at 3:00pm
Written by:

What a difference a year makes!

On Saturday I realised that The Busby Way had been up and running for a  year and as I looked through the site’s analytics and the site itself, I came across the first ever post: Two steps forward, one step back for Nani.

Following Nani’s red card against Aston Villa and it’s possible implications, I mused that if he found himself out of the team he only had himself to blame.

Thankfully it never came to that.

For the remainder of that season he continued to perform as well as chipping in with important goals and it is something he has carried on into this season.

The whole ‘Nani has turned his career around’ thing has been done to death, by us as well, but I don’t think how integral a player he is to Manchester United is truly being acknowledged . This season along side Nemanja Vidic he has been our best performer and whilst he can still frustrate you to the point that you’ll want to pull your own hair out, you have to accept that he has developed his game to the point that at any moment he can do something to illuminate a game.

He has shown he is well capable of the spectacular as well as being an effective team player and as he becomes more rounded he becomes more and more of a threat. His crossing has improved drastically and whilst he may still pick the wrong option when it comes to putting the ball into the box, when he gets it right he gets it right like he did for Rooney’s goal yesterday.

People will point to the cross deflecting off Zabaleta but the fact he chose to put the cross in then rather than take on Zabaleta shows his decision making has also improved immensely. Formerly that was one of United fan’s main gripes with the winger: he would shoot when he should have crossed, go on a run when he should have found a team mate etc but steadily he has been getting it right. This isn’t to say he has become perfect but considering how he was a year and a half ago the change is remarkable.

Speaking of Zabaleta, I’m pretty sure he will bear witness to Nani’s improvement. He was given a torrid time by Nani and didn’t get anywhere near him, looking at Rooney’s goal the impact of Nani’s performance can be seen in how Zabaleta chose to stand off, possibly in fear of what Nani would have done to him if he had got tight. Nani is now unpredictable, but the good kind where he can run at and beat his man then cross it or he can cut inside and have a go himself. The fact that he’ll do both and leave defenders wondering what will come next makes them think just that extra bit but that’s to their own detriment because if you stop, even for a split second, he will make you pay. You have to be alert and switched on every second and even that doesn’t guarantee success against him.

I have seen  lot of talk about City being the stronger team for large spells in the first half and whilst they did see more of the ball, they hardly did anything with it, when United were in possession of the ball we continually sought to attack Man City’s goal and as Wayne Rooney cut a lonely figure up top it was left to Nani to register our better chances on goal, fizzing shots at Joe Hart. His goal with that excellent first touch and perfectly placed finish was just rewards for all of his trying and as an aside, of his 10 goals this season that was his 8th with his supposed weaker left foot!

Nani’s continual improvement is good news to Manchester United as a team and as a club, he has become an integral part of the team and a threat to any team he comes up against. It wouldn’t be out of line to say he has been the best player in England this season and if you want to crunch numbers this is backed up by the fact that Nani has scored (10), assisted (13) or been significantly involved (9) in 32 United’s goals in his 30 appearances this season*.

*courtesy of Nick Coppack


15 responses to “Nani: the product of when players achieve their potential”

  1. robroy says:

    the problem with nani is this>>>

    he is way more affective playing on the right flank…

    which is a shame because antonio valencia plays there

  2. Old Trafford King says:

    sooo drop valencia n play nani he’s a far better option than toni…two footed n lively…valencia is one dimensional

  3. Chudi says:

    last year I got the chance to ask Nani what side he prefers to play on and he himself said the left. I prefer him on the right but Toni is too good to leave out.
    Definitely one I wouldn’t like to have to sort out!

  4. Simon says:

    Not to give the author a hard time or anything; but the punctuation and grammar in this article is poor. Nice to see something written about Nani. The mainstream media have been surprisingly quiet in their praise of his performances. I feel confident enough to say that Nani is the most talented player in the Premier League. I certainly think he eclipses Samir Nasri, who whilst being good, does not have the explosive element to his game that Nani does. What really set the Portuguese apart from the rest though, is that he is genuinely two footed. A rare commodity. Apparently the Barcelona hierarchy approached Ferguson about signing Nani shortly after we played them in the CL final. At the time Nani was still the subject of raucous abuse from many sections of OT; with the majority of United fans saying he would never make it at the club. Yet SAF flat out refused to even entertain the idea. As he himself said recently; the man knows how to spot potential.

    • Chudi says:

      Wrote it at 3am and didn’t have a chance to edit it before it was published. Will go through and make the changes now!

      I heard about Barca trying to sign him good thing we held on to him. There has been a number of occasions where his presence alone has been the difference and he is becoming the kind of player that boosts us whilst discouraging our oppo, kind of how Ronaldo did.

      • Simon says:

        Thanks for replying. Wasn’t trying to be a d*ck. It’s just that I find a good article can lose it’s credibility if it is grammatically lacking. Seeing past that, I agreed with the general sentiment of the piece. Nani is indeed the type of player that draws defenders out of position; largely because they are forced to double up on him. That opens things up considerably for the rest of the team. Ronaldo had a similar effect. I am not insinuating that Nani is in the same class as Ronaldo because I don’t think he is. The narcassistic one was the complete attacker in my mind; pace, power, finishing, long range shooting, dribbling and arial presence. Nani is not as physically imposing or anywhere near as good in the air.

        Where I think Nani does stand out though, and where he has improved immeasurably in the last 12 months is in his crossing. From a tendency to produce a poor final ball, to probably the most prodigous crosser the club has had since Becks. The ball he produced against Aston Villa two weeks ago was one of the best I have ever seen. I wouldn’t have imagined him producing that 12 months ago. The talent has always been there, I just think he has not only worked hard on the training ground but also massively improved his concentration.

        He still has a tendency to make the wrong decision at times but I think he is still improving in that regard all the time. People forget how young he is. He only turned 24 in November. The best is yet to come. A similar thing happened to Ronaldo at that age and I suspect the same to happen with Anderson. Lest people also forget that Scholes really erupted into a world class player at 24/25 years old. At 22 (Anderson’s age) he was only just beginning to establish himself as a first team starter.

        The fans rightly or wrongly (in my opinion wrongly), often got on Nani’s back when things didn’t work out for him; and it badly affected his confidence. Having the support of the fans now makes a huge difference. He often suffered from trying too hard, whereas free of that burden his game now seems so much more natural. One of the very best improvements in his game and something you don’t see discussed often enough, is his movement. He recently said that he is now so much more switched on when the team don’t have the ball. Either covering defensive angles or in the case of a break, moving into space to receive the ball. Always moving. 18 months ago, his movement off the ball was much more predictable. Now opposition defenders are finding it so much harder to track him. The fact he has 13 assist already is a testament to that.

  5. Very True
    Brilliantly written.
    Imagine, we had a Cash + Nani bid rejected for Sergio Aguero. Blessing in disguise.
    He is brilliant.
    I expect Anderson to shine too.
    Smalling is improving.

  6. I feel that when Valencia returns that if Nani goes back to the left that he will be much better in this position than before. His confidence has gone up massively and he knows defenders have no idea if he goes on his left or right foot.

    Also good to see he has cut down on over exaggeration of tackles etc – all good signs.

    • Simon says:

      I think it is going to take quite a while before Valencia is fully fit and firing on all cylinders. We shouldn’t expect too much of him before the end of the season. His injury was horrific. That said, from what I have heard his determination and professionalism during his recovery, have been nothing short of remarkable. I still remain largely unconvinced about any 4-4-2 that employs to out and out wingers. Whereas once it worked, I think modern football has moved beyond that. In a 4-3-3 though, I think having both Valencia and Nani of the field will make all the difference in the world. Valencia to provide the width and Nani to cut in from the left to link up with the lone striker. Preferably Ando breaking from midfield to support them all.

      • Chudi says:

        The thing with that is Anderson is poor in the final third. Great in and around the center circle but his passing and shooting in the final third are very erratic good sometimes but usually poor. I think his energy makes him a brilliant standard central midfielder but for those that see him as our next Scholes must accept his passing is simply not of that quality.

  7. Ryan says:

    Really agree with Chudi’s final point. Anderson’s passing and shooting in the final third is not close to up to snuff yet. I can think of one great shot he hit with his left this year which hit the bar. Beyond that, whenever he has a shot at goal it turns out to be like a pass to the keeper. Passing too needs some work in attacking areas. that said, he is young, has boatloads of energy, hopefully he comes good! As for Nani, i suppose he has to go out to the left once valencia returns, and with his new found confidence, im sure he will shine there as well.

  8. Rohit says:

    For all his hardwork nani is still really underrated..Never gets praised say like a bale or a nasri..Also there’s still some notion that he’s inconsistent..Well looking at his productivity, that opinion should have died way way back..On another note its better that he remains in the shadows..We certainly don’t want those spanish mongs to start snooping..

  9. The Red city of Manchester says:


    2007/08 gms. 41, gls. 4, assists. 13
    2008/09 gms. 30, gls. 6, assists. 4
    2009/10 gms. 34, gls. 7, assists. 13
    2010/11 gms. 30, gls. 10, assists. 14

    Played 106 (29).

    The Wing Wizard has become a true influential figure for United.

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