Nani (Mark II) and OG 13 – Get Your T-Shirts Now!

Nani Mark II

You go into a game and for 45 minutes you are physically bullied by the opposition full back. Elbowed, kicked, pushed and shoved off the ball at every turn. Your first touch starts to falter. You’re having to drop back to defend as well. You go into the break scratching your head and nursing your ribs. There is only one scenario that can make this worthwhile – you come out in the second half and make a complete ass of the defender. You turn him inside and out. You make him look sluggish, off pace and slow of foot and mind. You repeatedly beat him to set up goals. You end the match vastly the superior opponent. This is footballing justice at it’s best. And this was Nani’s game against Sam Ricketts and Bolton.

In fact, you might say it’s the story of Nani’s career, a story of 2 halves. Written off by both pundits and the club’s own fans, he spent a long time trying to be the next Cristiano Ronaldo. Shooting wildly from distance, causing moves to break down, interspersing the odd brilliant moment with entire games of poor decision making – Nani seemed to be bent on ridiculing his own £ 17 m transfer fee.

At the start of this season, the writing looked on the wall for Nani – as he was hotly tipped to be a part of a transfer deal as a makeweight for a proper winger. Then the unthinkable happened – Nani had a blast at Sir Alex on a Portuguese radio channel. He said that Ferguson was affecting his confidence, and that he was a difficult man to figure out. Judging by previous instances, this is the shortest way to the exit at Old Trafford. Yet, as Paul Simon sang, “these are the days of miracle wonders…”. Sir Alex has in recent years maintained that today’s footballers are less tough and need more mollycoddling. He seems to have practiced what he preached and instead of frog-marching Nani to the nearest buyer, he has managed to turn him into one of the most potent creators in the premiership.

Nobody has reported on what exactly happened. There was a phase when Nani was out of the first team. And then when he came back, he was a changed player. The penny had certainly dropped for Nani. Sir Alex suggested that Nani was a shy player who was starting to mature, but there are plenty who would argue that Nani’s problem was more cockiness than diffidence. My wild guess would be that Sir Alex had Ronaldo speak to Nani and explain to him that he had to stop trying to become Cristiano.

Nani Mark II has hardly attempted a shot on goal, but instead, focused on a prodigious supply of assists and probling crosses from both flanks. Like Valencia he is a right footed player, but unlike Valencia, his left leg is not entirely useless. Thanks to the two of them, Man United have reverted to their trademark wide play, stretching the game across the flanks, with midfielders running in to help the strikers take advantage of the gaps in the stretched defence.

Outstanding against Arsenal, brilliant against AC Milan at home, Nani has the skills to trouble the best fullbacks. Not the best of defenders himself, his work ethic however, in his new avatar, has not been lacking as you can see him track back to help Evra. Always capable of beating a defender with skill and crossing accurately, Nani is half the reason why Rooney has had an endless supply of chances to convert. The other half being Valencia.

Nani is surely not the finished product. Over summer, he should work on his speed and his strength as he is sure to receive more rough treatment from defenders. While Valencia seems like a player tough enough to ride most tackles, Nani is certainly more vulnerable to physical intimidation. His current approach is go down the thespian route to exaggerate the impact of all fouls committed on him, but soon he will end up immunising referrees to his pleas.

But once again, Sir Alex has managed to bring together a team that plays for each other, with a commitment to attack and an true to the best traditions of wing play seen over the ages at Old Trafford. And the resurgance of Nani lends wing to the hope that perhaps Anderson too, could become the player he has the potential to be, next year.

United should print a new range of t-shirts for Nani Mark II to remind him and us of the rubbish player he once was!

Get Your OG 13 T-Shirts Here!

Man United should definitely also print t-shirts for their 12th man – the one who currently holds joint second place in the goal-scoring stakes along with Berbatov. Yes, it’s Own Goals – who found the net again against Bolton at such a crucial time on Saturday. Currently on 11 in the league and 12 overall, Own Goals should be a good bet to reach the magic figure of 13. Talismanically unlucky for opponents, United fans can then buy the replica shirts to egg OG on to even higher standards next year.

To be fair, a big part of OG’s performance is down to United’s excellent play down the wings. Nani and Evra on the left and Valencia, Neville or Rafael on the right have terrorised so many defenders, that faced with a low cross about to reach the foot or head of Rooney or Berbatov, defenders have panicked to miskick the ball into their own net.

Nonetheless, credit where it’s due – OG has scored a hat-trick against Pompey, no mean feat! OG also has some pretty important goals – rescuing draws against Sunderland, Villa and Birmingham (and CSKA in the CL) opening the scoring against Bolton, and winning the game against Arsenal. I would call that a successful season for any striker, let alone one that costs nothing in transfer fees or salaries, has no disciplinary problems and can be played along with 11 others on the field!

Here are OG’s goals this year for Man United:

J Lloyd Samuel – Bolton, Mar 28, 2010
Colins – Villa – Feb 10, 2010
Vanden Borre – Portsmouth Feb 6, 2010
Hughes – Portsmouth – Feb 6, 2010
Wilson – Portsmouth – Feb 6, 2010
Almunia – Arsenal – 31 Jan 2010
Dann – Birmingham – 9 Jan 2010
Dawson – Hull – 27 Dec 2009
Shchennikov – CSKA Moscow – 3 Nov 2009
Knight – Bolton – 17 Oct 2009
Ferdinand – Sunderland 3 Oct 2009
Diaby – Arsenal – 29 Aug 2009

May be a call up for England’s world cup squad?

Nani

You go into a game and for 45 minutes you are physically bullied by the

opposition full back. Elbowed, kicked, pushed and shoved off the ball at every

possibility. Your first touch starts to falter. You’re having to drop back to

defend as well. You go into the break scratching your head and nursing your ribs.

There is only one scenario that can make this worthwhile – you come out in the

second half and make a complete ass of the defender. You turn him inside and out.

You make him look sluggish, off pace and slow of foot and mind. You repeatedly

beat him to set up goals. You end the match vastly the superior opponent. This is

footballing justice at it’s best. And this was Nani’s game against Sam Ricketts and Bolton.

In fact, you might say it’s the story of Nani’s career, a story of 2 halves. Written off by both pundits and the club’s own fans, he spent a long time trying to be the next Cristiano Ronaldo. Shooting wildly from distance, causing moves to break down, interspersing the odd brilliant moment with entire games of poor decision making – Nani seemed to be bent on ridiculing his own £ 17 m transfer fee.

At the start of this season, the writing looked on the wall for Nani – as he was hotly tipped to be a part of a transfer deal as a makeweight for a proper winger. Then the unthinkable happened – Nani had a blast at Sir Alex on a Portuguese radio channel. He said that Ferguson was affecting his confidence, and that he was a difficult man to figure out. Judging by previous instances, this is the shortest way to the exit at Old Trafford. Yet, as Paul Simon sang, “these are the days of miracle wonders…”. Sir Alex has in recent years maintained that today’s footballers are less tough and need more mollycoddling. He seems to have practiced what he preached and instead of frog-marching Nani to the nearest buyer, he has managed to turn him into one of the most potent creators in the premiership.

Nobody has reported on what exactly happened. There was a phase when Nani was out of the first team. And then when he came back, he was a changed player. The penny had certainly dropped for Nani. Sir Alex suggested that Nani was a shy player who was starting to mature, but there are plenty who would argue that Nani’s problem was more cockiness than diffidence. My wild guess would be that Sir Alex had Ronaldo speak to Nani and explain to him that he had to stop trying to become Cristiano.

Nani Mark II has hardly attempted a shot on goal, but instead, focused on a prodigious supply of assists and probling crosses from both flanks. Like Valencia he is a right footed player, but unlike Valencia, his left leg is not entirely useless. Thanks to the two of them, Man United have reverted to their trademark wide play, stretching the game across the flanks, with midfielders running in to help the strikers take advantage of the gaps in the stretched defence.

Outstanding against Arsenal, brilliant against AC Milan at home, Nani has the skills to trouble the best fullbacks. Not the best of defenders himself, his work ethic however, in his new avatar, has not been lacking as you can see him track back to help Evra. Always capable of beating a defender with skill and crossing accurately, Nani is half the reason why Rooney has had an endless supply of chances to convert. The other half being Valencia.

Nani is surely not the finished product. Over summer, he should work on his speed and his strength as he is sure to receive more rough treatment from defenders. While Valencia seems like a player tough enough to ride most tackles, Nani is certainly more vulnerable to physical intimidation. His current approach is go down the thespian route to exaggerate the impact of all fouls committed on him, but soon he will end up immunising referrees to his pleas.

But once again, Sir Alex has managed to bring together a team that plays for each other, with a commitment to attack and an true to the best traditions of wing play seen over the ages at Old Trafford. And the resurgance of Nani lends wing to the hope that perhaps Anderson too, could become the player he has the potential to be, next year.

Get Your OG 13 T-Shirts Here!

Man United should definitely print t-shirts for their 12th man – the one who currently holds joint second place in the goal-scoring stakes along with Berbatov. Yes, it’s Own Goals – who found the net again against Bolton at such a crucial time on Saturday. Currently on 11 in the league and 12 overall, Own Goals should be a good bet to reach the magic figure of 13. Talismanically unlucky for opponents, United fans can then buy the replica shirts to egg OG on to even higher standards next year.

To be fair, a big part of OG’s performance is down to United’s excellent play down the wings. Nani and Evra on the left and Valencia, Neville or Rafael on the right have terrorised so many defenders, that faced with a low cross about to reach the foot or head of Rooney or Berbatov, defenders have panicked to miskick the ball into their own net.

Nonetheless, credit where it’s due – OG has scored a hat-trick against Pompey, no mean feat! OG also has some pretty important goals – rescuing draws against Sunderland, Villa and Birmingham (and CSKA in the CL) opening the scoring against Bolton, and winning the game against Arsenal. I would call that a successful season for any striker, let alone one that costs nothing in transfer fees or salaries, has no disciplinary problems and can be played along with 11 others on the field!

Here are OG’s goals this year for Man United:

J Lloyd Samuel – Bolton, Mar 28, 2010
Colins – Villa – Feb 10, 2010
Vanden Borre – Portsmouth Feb 6, 2010
Hughes – Portsmouth – Feb 6, 2010
Wilson – Portsmouth – Feb 6, 2010
Almunia – Arsenal – 31 Jan 2010
Dann – Birmingham – 9 Jan 2010
Dawson – Hull – 27 Dec 2009
Shchennikov – CSKA Moscow – 3 Nov 2009
Knight – Bolton – 17 Oct 2009
Ferdinand – Sunderland 3 Oct 2009
Diaby – Arsenal – 29 Aug 2009

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