Ashley Young, David De Gea and Phil Jones all impressed on the US tour whilst Tom Cleverley and Anderson both looked good doing their best impressions of Scholes’ replacement but it appears one player has seemingly gone under the radar.
If I was to hold a poll on our best player last season it is likely that Javier Hernandez’s name would would appear more frequently than most but Nani wouldn’t be too far behind him.
It was touch and go how Nani’s career would go after he continually fluctuated between world beater and wasted talent but for the later part of the 09/10 season and for the majority of the 2010/2011 season the winger showed why Sir Alex signed him and persisted with him.
His goals, assists and general play were priceless as United won the Premier League and made the Champions League final. In the absence of the injured Antonio Valencia Nani flourished and became one of the integral attacking components in the team hence him winning the club’s player’s player of the year award.
But in the later part of the season, following that horror challenge from Jamie Carragher and the return of Valencia he apeared to lose his way and eventually his place was usurped by Valencia. He was given a substitute role in the Champions League in favour of his Ecuadorian counterpart and despite his somewhat bright cameo in the match and Valencia’s poor showing it was he that was touted for a move away from the club when it was announced we would sign Ashley Young.
Whilst talk of a move died down it took his brilliant display against Barcelona in Maryland last week where he looked a constant threat and got himself on the scoresheet to reignite some of the excitement around him.
Nani himself isn’t ready to rest on his laurels and despite having a good season by any standards is ready to carry it on this term saying,
“I will try to take my game to the next level. I will try to do my best. I want to do much better than last season and now we must wait to see how that happens.”
And this is an ominous warning for our rivals.
Nani at his best, as we saw last term, is a threat to anybody, his unpredictability means he leaves even the best of defenders guessing what is to come as he may choose to cross the ball, cut in, shoot with his left, shoot with his right etc
But he still has some way to go.
It is assumed that Sir Alex doesn’t trust the winger in the big games thus he sat out the Champions League final but in that he has an area in which he himself can improve.
He will need to show he can be reliable, he will work for the team against the top opposition as well in order to change the manager’s mind and if he can, he will be well on the way to not only proving his worth to United but proving himself as one of the best attacking threats in European football.
Nani is a special talent, it has always been thought that he has had the raw attributes to become a star and he has begun to combine ability with mentality to become one. He possesses the ability to change a game by himself and in a team that has been accused of being ‘functional’ and lacking the flair expected of United teams he is indeed an asset.
This season is just another part of Nani’s journey, he has been on the right road for the last season and a half and with he himself threatening that he will only get better, I don’t think anyone will bet against him continuing to show progression.