With things going pear shaped in the league, a little heralded Italian youngster popped up to get Manchester United’s season back on track.
At 17 years old Kiko Macheda was thrust into the spotlight following his injury time winner against Aston Villa, he repeated his heroics a week later against Sunderland and he was on the path to apparent superstardom, so what has gone wrong for him?
There was a time when people compared Danny Welbeck and Macheda but ask any fan today who they would rather have in the team and the answer will be unanimous, Welbeck hands down.
The two were on similar paths but whilst Welbeck has grown wings and taken off, Macheda remains well and truly on the ground.
Securing a place upfront was never going to be easy with the likes of Rooney, Berbatov, Hernandez and Owen ahead of them so the logical thing was to send these talents out on loan.
Welbeck went to Sunderland and we know how that turned out but Macheda’s spell in Italy was a spectacular failure. It had been hoped that he would stay in England with Everton and West Brom sniffing around him, but he made the decision to go to Sampdoria in his native Italy.
Macheda found playing time hard to come by as Sampdoria were caught in a relegation battle. They would drop into Italian football’s second tier and he ended his spell in Italy with 14 appearance, most coming off of the bench, and 1 goal. He himself acknowledged his mistake in rushing to go back to Italy stating upon his return to England,
“For a youngster, England is a better place to play.”
But after an impressive pre season in America, Macheda again found playing time hard to come by in the first team. He was used sparringly in competitions like the Carling Cup and eventually went out on loan to QPR in January.
It was hoped that then manager Neil Warnock would be able to give him minutes at Loftus Road but things took a turn for the worse when Warnock was sacked days after his arrival.
Macheda was now faced with a nightmare situation, out on loan under a new manager who perhaps didn’t have him in his plans. Any misgivings he had about his place in Mark Hughes’ side were soon clarified when Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora were brought in to swell the ranks at the west London club.
His lack of match time boiled over and this weekend he allowed his frustration to get the better of him taking to Twitter to complain about his situation:
“Totally pissed off…this is not what i deserve! F*ck all!!!!!”
At the time Mark Hughes didn’t comment about the young Italian’s outburst, but you can be sure that this is likely to spell the end of any potential chance he had to play under the former United striker.
You have to feel sorry for Macheda after a second loan spell has proved fruitless for him. He finds himself in a similar position to last season in terms of situation as well as personal development, all the more frustrating because at his age these are important years for him to improve his game.
QPR was always going to be a hard team for him get minutes in with Hulse, Campbell, Helguson, Bothroyd and Mackie. The additions of Cisse and Zamora made his situation even more complicated. Fighting to preserve their Premier League status, QPR can’t afford to take risks on him when they have experienced strikers in the team.
This is another season that can effectively be classified as a waste with just 12 appearances, 8 of these as a sub. As previously stated these years are key to his development and having experienced first team football, dropping back down to reserve level would be a further step backwards and could prove mentally damaging too.
This isn’t to say that he won’t make it, it would be foolish to write him off at just 20 but Macheda’s window of opportunity is getting smaller and smaller at Old Trafford, quite sad considering the way he burst onto the scene and the fact that Sir Alex once made a comparison between him and Cristiano Ronaldo.
As seen with Welbeck at Sunderland, loan spells can work. A bit of luck and a manager willing to give him a chance would perhaps find Macheda in a better position.