Keep your shirt on



There were eyes full of excitement; smiles of contempt, genuine wondering and even patronising empathy. The football world was deep into the new episode of Cristiano Ronaldo dramedy. Meanwhile, the man who was once believed to be Ronaldo’s heir, struggled alone. Luis Nani might beg for pity too, but nobody seems to care. When the debate was no longer about Ronaldo, it had moved as Robin van Persie’s get out of jail free card played at Southampton, or the lazy international week.

Last Saturday, there was as little salvation found for the Portuguese on the pitch, as off it. Nani played a huge part in United’s opening goal against Wigan Athletic, and showed sparks of brilliance throughout the game, but for the most part his efforts ended up in vain, frustration dominating his game.

Nani’s vexation culminated in one episode when the winger didn’t seem even remotely interested in an opponent robbing United of what seemed a certain corner. By then Nani’s grievance was at its peak and the world had gotten the better of him.

The Portuguese didn’t do much wrong. Time and time again he found himself in good positions, but his finishing kept letting him down. The moment an opportunity presented itself, Nani’s mind began to play tricks on him – it was almost self-evident that the pressure was too much, and the final whistle became a welcome guest.

There can be little doubt about Nani’s ability, but the swings and roundabouts of form remain a solid enemy. The media, keen to blow everything out of proportion, usually doesn’t need a second invitation when it comes to a player’s poor form.

“What is clear is that the former Sporting Lisbon player is at a crossroads in his United career and is running out of time to convince Ferguson that he can fulfil his potential at Old Trafford,” read one article in Manchester Evening News recently. “Nani’s future looked in jeopardy during the summer. Nani has found himself on the brink at Old Trafford.”

It is a charge in which the player, quite obviously, has not helped his own cause. Not least because he insists on debating his future. and publicly studying potential opportunities.

“Football is not only about England or Spain,” said the winger this summer to prove the point. “It is possible to enjoy success in other countries. I have fulfilled five seasons with United and obtained all the titles.”

Negotiation through the press may have been a great idea when Nani’s team was pushing hard for a new contract – work is still in progress – but now it’s more difficult for the player to complete that dance with the media on his back.

Some stories are better than others though. While a few outlets ran the Juventus ‘bid sensation’, the real beauty was Mirror’s early September headlines involving Zenit St Petersburg. Nani deliberately asked for such exorbitant wages, so goes the story, that the Russian club would inevitably break it off. Only Zenit pursue the deal insatiably. and Nani was forced to turn off his phone.

Whether or not the episode is true, fans remain suspicious about Nani’s motives. Is the Portuguese winger demonstrating loyalty towards United, or simply ready to hold the club to ransom over a new contract?

The more important question is: where does United stand regarding Nani? Based on contract negotiations alone, the club simply isn’t going to retain Nani at any cost.

Which brings us back to the player’s form. With contract talks seemingly stalled, and the media savouring every detail – or inventing new ones – Nani is in something of a limbo at Old Trafford. It could well explain the clear frustration. It’s a place, where – as Wayne Rooney might say – nobody knows where his head is at.  Unfortunately for Nani, if he’s drowning, it’s on his own.

In truth, if Nani really wants to stay at United, he needs to regain his confidence. It will help earn that new contract too. The possibility remains that neither happens – and if that is the case, for all Nani’s imagination and brilliance, should prepare to say goodbye and never look back.

Should Nani stay, he is a player that needs to take a deep breath and restart. Otherwise, the player will inevitably himself at Juventus or whoever is the highest bidder in a few years. After all, Sir Alex Ferguson is all to happy to “show the door” to those players not committed to the cause.

There is hope for the player. Four years ago, on a rainy night in Moscow, the Portuguese boy kept his nerve in the Champions League final shoot-out. Now, he should do the same. Keep your shirt on, Luis, it’s the greatest one you’ll ever wear.

Just ask Cristiano.

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  • http://www.premiersoccerchat.com Todd

    Nice post.
    I have always rooted for Nani and have wanted him to do well, but he’s so frustrating.
    It’s become his M.O., looks brilliant at times and frustrating the rest of it.
    He’s starting to get too old to say he has potential, but that always seems to be the mantra with him.

  • Herbie Simms

    Should have tried Nani in a different position, in the centre playing behind the two strikers where Kagawa plays now. Nani is such a good dribbler, he would be more dangerous dribbling through the middle and would more likely score goals and win penalties. But as of now, he is more effective playing on the right wing but Valencia is doing such a great job there, and with Buttner running that left side as an attacking left back/winger, Nani may just find himself spending time on the subs bench. If SAF can keep his team selection right, we can win back the title. From what I’ve seen so far, Arsenal will be our biggest threat.

  • Waxfoot

    Herbie
    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the position Nani’s played in. He is his own worst enemy, as the article rightly suggests.

    I’ve always been unsure of Nani. Capable of brilliance, but always seems to be searching for it for his own sake rather than the team’s. If Scholes’ and Giggs’ team-centric attitudes haven’t rubbed off on him by now, when will they?

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Commenter said:
    Should have tried Nani in a different position, in the centre playing behind the two strikers where Kagawa plays now. Nani is such a good dribbler, he would be more dangerous dribbling through the middle and would more likely score goals and win penalties. But as of now, he is more effective playing on the right wing but Valencia is doing such a great job there, and with Buttner running that left side as an attacking left back/winger, Nani may just find himself spending time on the subs bench. If SAF can keep his team selection right, we can win back the title. From what I’ve seen so far, Arsenal will be our biggest threat.

    FFS… you could put Nani in goal, and he still wouldn’t pass when the chance to dribble the ball into trouble was possible.
    Nanis problem isn’t talent… it’s his decision making… he’s an idiot.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  • Spudiator

    Nail on the head again Alf. Nani’s problem is he’s trying too hard to be Ronaldo. Now Ronaldo could afford to be a bit selfish on the ball because he was (and still is) a genuine world class talent, plus every opposition defender was shitting their pants at the prospect of facing him. Nani’s good, but he’s not even close to Ronaldo levels, and unless he learns to be a team player very quickly rather than keep looking for personal glory, I can’t see him staying at the club a hell of a lot longer.

  • Denton Davey

    Todd @ 2:34: “his M.O., looks brilliant at times and frustrating the rest of it.”

    The proportions of brilliance/frustration might be different – that’s a matter of debate – but he reminds me of SirRyanGiggs.

    Both guys dare to be exciting and are risk-takers; sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn’t.

    How you evaluate mercurial talents depends on whether you think a team can “afford” a player who is unpredictable or whether you want workhorses like Valencia who plough their furrow with great diligence but much less excitement/risk-taking.

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    lays on more goals than anyone else in the side, what a selfish cunt

  • Stevie D

    The one thing you can rely on Nani for is his unreliability.
    He can lash one in to the top corner from 35 yards….then he’ll miscue a 10 yard pass. While his stats for goals and assists are quite good, bearing in mind the amount of frustration you feel when watching him play for United, personally speaking I don’t think he’ll ever become the player we all hoped he could be. As Alf says, his decision making is shocking, and that’s something that won’t ever improve.
    As for comparing Nani with Ronaldo…they’re both Portuguese. The comparison stops there.

  • bman

    It seems pretty clear that the club would accept a big offer for him.

  • Joey Deacon

    Smooth Criminal.

    • Mongoletsi

      Teeeheee!

  • Andrew

    Nani is a fool ridden with anxiety. Combined it it explains his poor decision making. He can be brilliant but too often exasperating. I remember i had just finished slagging him off at Old Trafford against West Ham and he promptly slalomed through the defence and hit a screamer into the top corner. I remained quiet thereafter

  • Andrew

    Nani is a fool ridden with anxiety. Combined it it explains his poor decision making. He can be brilliant but too often exasperating. I remember i had just finished slagging him off at Old Trafford against West Ham and he promptly slalomed through the defence and hit a screamer into the top corner. I remained quiet thereafter.