Tag Nani

Tag Nani

Same old Nani, always childish

February 13, 2010 Tags: Opinion 12 comments

They say that madness is defined by doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. Well then we’re in trouble because for a short while there fans believed Sir Alex Ferguson’s assessment of Nani’s new found maturity. Tell it to the winger, whose two-footed lunge at Stilian Petrov last Wednesday night belied his continuing immaturity.

Another moment of overwhelming frustration for fans and manager alike when it comes to the Portuguese international. In the five games since the winger’s return to the side Nani has excelled – as much against expectation, as the opposition.

Effective against Hull City, following a cameo against Burnley at Old Trafford, Nani was then instrumental in United’s victories over Manchester City and Arsenal.

Then came Wednesday’s red card, handed down for a reckless challenge on Aston Villa’s Bulgarian midfielder. In days gone by the former-Sporting winger could have escaped with yellow for a tackle that took far more ball than man. But in the modern game a raised foot almost always provokes the official’s ire.

“It was a sending off. It was a red card. It was a naïve tackle,” said Ferguson of Nani’s second dismissal in professional football, born seemingly of the winger’s wish to perform well but inability to consistently translate it to the pitch.

“He is not a malicious player but he has gone in with his foot raised off the ground and we cannot complain about it. We have no argument at all with the red card.”

Nani will now miss Premier League games against Everton next weekend, together with the home tie against West Ham United and the Carling Cup final repeat with Villa.

The winger’s ban couldn’t come at a worse time for the team, with Ryan Giggs confirmed sidelined with a broken arm for around a month following an inconspicuous challenge with Villa’s Steve Sidwell.

While Nani is available for Tuesday night’s trip to AC Milan, and the return leg in three weeks time, Ferguson will rely on Antonio Valencia and Park Ji-Sung for the domestic matches bridging the European tie.

At least Nani realised the consequences of his actions, which may have robbed United of an extra two points on Wednesday and one of the squad’s form players for the next month.

“After half-time, I spoke with the coach and he was unhappy with me,” Nani said somewhat remorsefully on Thursday.

“That is normal, as tackles like that are not permitted in the Premier League. I accept my responsibility for my actions, though they were not premeditated. I insist that my objective was to play the ball and not the foot of Petrov.

“The incident happened in the middle of the pitch and I don’t think I merited being sent off. I am not a violent footballer. My career is in this sport.

“I wanted to recover the ball and I saw the chance to stop Petrov.

“Now I am sorry, because I have damaged the performance of my team. I am convinced that had we finished with 11 men we would have won.

“We have wasted the opportunity to be first in the table. And it is very bad for me, as I have been developing my best form of the season.”

The question is now, with Nani seemingly more mature with the ball at his feet, can the 24-year-old player learn from this experience and come back even stronger?

For a player so derided by fans and the media alike at times this season Nani has shown strength of character to force his way back into the team.

Now others will benefit from his absence, and Nani must start from square one.

Keano’s Column: United’s Agony Aunt

February 3, 2010 Tags: , Just for fun 7 comments

Dear readers,

Today we bring you the remarkable tale of Luis Nani, a heart warming story of human triumph over adversity, and a great example to the many losers out there that there is always hope, even for the most hopeless of cases.

In his first interview (today), the usually shy Nani opens himself up like never before, to talk frankly about the heartbreak of losing Cristiano, his addiction to somersaults and his deep dislike of Michael Jackson’s music.

Nani,

We all remember the time, only a few weeks ago, when the football you were playing was nothing short of bad. And I mean really, really bad. Our poor opinion of you became as easy as ABC, and as clearcut as black or white. We wanted you out of our life. There were times when I wanted to grab you by the scruff of the neck and shake your body down to the ground.

Luckily, your great performances of late have calmed me down enough to ask you what everyone wants to know, how the bleedin’ hell did you manage to prove us all wrong and produce such an unexpected turnaround?

Nani: One more chance?

Mr. Keane,

Thank you for talking to me. I am very happy now after a long period of sadness where I wanted the whole world to just leave me alone.

I felt very sad that my best friend Cristiano left. Everyone loves Cristiano, and it was hard to accept the fact he was gone. ‘You are not alone’ I kept telling myself, but on that Old Trafford pitch, if felt like it.

The change came when Sir Alex put his arm around me and told me that my depression was part of human nature, but it could be dangerous if I didn’t beat it soon.

So I took a long hard look at the man in the mirror and realised that I wanted to be starting something, something positive at United.

I am a footballer, so my ambition was never to heal the world, but simply to show the fans another part of me.

Fans saw me as nothing more than a speed demon, a circus performer and worst of all a Michael Jackson impersonator. I had enough and I wanted to make that change.

So I stopped practicing somersaults and concentrated on football instead. No more double pirouettes for me, just hours of pass and move drills. This is it.

Since then, things have been fantastic, and now, the fans love me the way they loved Ronaldo. In fact I am playing so well that Real Madrid will come for me soon, I am sure of it.

In the meantime my goal is to get the fans to sing my name like they still do for Carlos Tevez, something like ‘Luis Nani is a red, he hates Jackson!” would be very nice.

I have many ambitions now with my new self belief and popularity amongst the fans. The most important thing however is to finally make sure people stop seeing Nani as a Michael Jackson look-alike and more as a person in my own right. That is my true hope and my most important life goal. Thank you all for your support.

A worthy dream. And I am sure we all agree, it couldn’t happen to a nicer man (in the mirror).

Nani, more than just a Michael Jackson look-alike

Nani stays: agent

January 7, 2010 Tags: Shorts 7 comments

Outcast Manchester United winger Nani will stay at the club until next summer, according to a report on Goal.com today. Nani, who has not started for Sir Alex Ferguson’s team since 8 December, has been unable to secure a move away despite reported interest from AC Milan and Fiorentina. United also reportedly offered the winger to Benfica.

“There are always links and stories about Nani, but I am sure that he will not leave Manchester United in January,” Nani’s agent Jorge Mendes told Goal.com.

“In the summer? Maybe, after the World Cup. But, at the moment this would be too difficult and he will not leave Manchester. Any talk of a move will have to wait.

“He has not been offered to other clubs through his agent as this would be illegal and not moral without Manchester United’s permission. For now, I am convinced he stays.”

Nani, whose full name is Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha, has featured just 14 times for United this campaign, including 12 starts and two appearances from the bench. But the player, who joined United in a £17 million deal in June 2007, has fallen out of favour following a series of infuriatingly inconsistent performances.

Nani on brink despite Fergie denials

November 30, 2009 Tags: Opinion 11 comments

Sir Alex Ferguson will not allow Portuguese misfit Nani to leave the club in the January transfer window, after denying that Manchester United is seeking to offload the £ 17 million former Sporting Lisbon winger. Nani, who has not played in for United in close to a month, is now Ferguson’s fifth choice winger after a series of erratic performances.

Nani’s form, together with the rise of Gabriel Obertan and Park Ji-Sung’s return to fitness, means that the Portuguese winger is unlikely to find many minutes at Old Trafford in the near future.

“Some big clubs have been mentioned for Nani, like Milan and Benfica, but there has been no contact made with us – and we wouldn’t entertain selling him anyway,” said Ferguson

“He is only 23. If someone came in for Nani in January we would tell him that he is going absolutely nowhere.”

Nani, who has made 85 appearances and scored 12 goals for United, has previously spoken to the media about his frustration at not progressing at Old Trafford. This in the season following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Real Madrid – Nani’s big opening has become a huge anti-climax. Instead, the winger opted for a tactic that has rarely worked for players under Ferguson.

“He’s a young boy and he wants to play – and he might get a chance against Spurs in the Carling Cup this week.”

“He has suffered because Valencia’s form has been excellent and because Obertan has emerged as an interesting player.

“It is no criticism of Nani, but the way things have developed in the last few weeks have gone against him. I have spoken to him and told him that he must take his chance when it comes along,” Ferguson added.

While Ferguson has previously shown loyalty to players criticised by both the fans and the media, Nani has provided little tangible evidence that he is progressing at United. Patience – even Ferguson’s – is wearing thin with a player who at his best is frustrating and worst a liability.

Moreover, Gabriel Obertan’s superb form since making his début against Barnsley in the Carling Cup a month ago has proffered Ferguson with an exciting new option on the left side of United’s attack. With Antonio Valencia superb against Portsmouth on Saturday, Ryan Giggs majestic all season long and workaholic Park now fit, Ferguson has little need for the Cape Verde-born flyer.

Frenchman Obertan, a £3 million capture from Bordeaux this summer, was a surprise purchase by Ferguson. But the French under-21 international has surpassed all early expectations, despite being laid-up with a spinal injury for the first four months of the season. The injury, which might explain the player’s lack of progression under Laurent Blanc’s tutelage at Bordeaux, was only discovered when the forward arrived at Old Trafford. At 16, Obertan was one of the very best in the world, according to Ferguson.

Nani must now work for his opportunity at Old Trafford – a trait that sadly seems lacking in the player – if he is to survive into a fourth season at the club. Indeed, Ferguson has little wish to cut squad numbers in the middle of the season but he is hardly likely to reduce the player’s price by slapping a ‘for sale’ sign on Nani’s forehead either.

Nani outburst could hasten exit

November 12, 2009 Tags: , Shorts 1 comment

Misfit Nani has taken a towards the Old Trafford exit after slamming Sir Alex Ferguson’s management style and blaming the Scot for badly handling his stuttering career. In an interview with Portuguese paper I, reported in The Sun, the 23-year-old reveals his experience of the  hairdryer, frustration at missing big games and accuses Ferguson of breaking promises.

Nani, who stated that he has no plans to leave United, could become the latest in a long line of players who have fallen out with United’s Scottish boss.

Jaap Stam, David Beckham and even United’s former captain Roy Keane have all lost the media battle with the manager in the recent past.  Tomasz Kuszczak could befall a similar fate following his recent outburst about Edwin van der Sar.

“He’s tough.  If things are all right, then they are all right.  But when he thinks something is wrong, everything is screwed,” Nani told the paper.

“He can go from complimenting you to just plain trashing you in a matter of minutes. Has it happened to me? Hell, yes! He’ll say ‘Nani, how could you miss this or this’?”

Nani, who said that Ferguson’s rotation policy affects his confidence, admitted that it would be better if he scored more goals. The winger has hit the net just twice in 13 appearances for the Red Devils this season.

The winger had seen this season as a big opportunity after the departure of compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid but the pressure has become overwhelming. The player’s latest outburst, following a disapointing campaign, might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

What’s wrong with Nani?

November 5, 2009 Tags: Opinion 12 comments

Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha’s recent performances for Manchester United have been just as frustrating as his first appearances for the club nearly two and a half season’s ago. It begs the question, with little improvement, is the Portuguese winger simply not good enough to play for United or just a bit simple?

The pointless stepover, a wasted pass, or an incomprehensible shot with better placed teammate ignored; all trademarks of which Nani cannot be proud. Yet for all Nani’s infuriating habits the Portuguese winger is undoubtedly talented. The former Sporting protégé’s début goal – a scorching 30-yarder against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford – symptomatic of the bipolar nature of the player’s gifts.

Indeed, many supporters – correctly – point to Cristiano Ronaldo’s inconsistency in the early years with United. The Real Madrid player did not reach a double figure goal tally until his third season at Old Trafford. At a similar stage of his Old Trafford career, Nani could yet match his more illustrious predecessor. Although, in his fourth complete season as a professional Ronaldo struck 26 times in total.

The goalscoring timeline is not wholly instructive of course. Perhaps a more relevant comparison is with the technical progress the two players made over the same period. Not only has Nani failed to improve but in his second season the 22-year-old was a shadow of the player who scored that stunning goal against Spurs. That the winger was largely relegated to the Carling Cup side, playing alongside the reserves, was a clear indicator of Nani’s fall down the Old Trafford player hierarchy last season.

This campaign Nani has delivered just one stand-out performance – against CSKA Moscow in the Russian capital a fortnight ago. It was the exception to a disappointing rule that has seen the winger misfire if trusted at all.

Statistics aside, Nani’s failure to mature is, surely, immensely frustrating for a manager who prides himself on youth development. While Nani is just over a year younger than the departed Cristiano Ronaldo, he is miles away from the Real Madrid player’s quality.

Perhaps even more enlightening is the rapid progress of Antonio Valencia at Old Trafford who, after an uncertain start, is looking every bit a Manchester United player.

Why then cannot the greatest manger United has possessed and the world-class infrastructure at his disposal not coach the worst of Nani’s excesses out of the Cape Verde-born player’s game? After all, the United coaching staff eliminated Ronaldo’s unnecessary showmanship; and experience improved the player’s decision-making and team work.

Yet such is the paucity of Nani’s credible performances this campaign that it is tempting to write-off his season already and hope that the player returns from the World Cup – should Portugal make it past Bosnia in the play-offs – significantly more mature.

But, five seasons into a professional career, Nani may have already peaked as a player. On Tuesday night he delivered yet another infuriating performance. The only surprise was that the wide-man made it past half-time before being hauled off.

This weekend Nani will surely be left on the bench once again, the peerless Ryan Giggs and aforementioned Valencia starting on the wings.

Then in January the highly-rated right-side player Adem Ljajić arrives from Partizan Belgrade.

While Nani’s place on the left is not directly affected by Ljajić’s arrival, speculation that United is preparing a bid for Benfica’s outstanding Angel di Maria or Valencia’s world-class left-sided forward David Silva will touch a little too close to home for the Portuguese.

Somehow it seems doubtful that Nani will get the message.

What's wrong with Nani?

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Ronaldo: Nani is my heir

September 25, 2009 Tags: , Shorts 4 comments

Cristiano Ronaldo believes that compatriot Nani is the heir to his Old Trafford throne and has backed the United winger to become one of the world’s best in the coming years. Nani, who signed for United from Ronaldo’s old club Sporting Lisbon in an £17 million deal two years ago, started the games against Chelsea, Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic, Arsenal, Besiktas and Wolverhampton Wanderers this season.

“I’ve seen that Nani is playing much more than he was last season when I was there. That’s good for him and he will benefit from that,” said Ronaldo, who has scored in each of Real Madrid’s games this season.

“Now he has more opportunities to play, he will be able to show the fans just how a great player he is.

“We still speak regularly on the phone. And it’s good to see United’s fans are starting to appreciate him more and have been happy with his form up until now.

“Nani is an excellent player. There’s a lot more to come from him and I’m sure that in a few years he will be amongst the best players in the world,” he told The Mirror.

The former United winger has also admitted to being an armchair red, despite his £80 million move to Spanish giants Real Madrid this summer.

“Every time I can I try to watch United’s games on television. I still like to know what’s happening at Old Trafford. And despite now being at Real, I’m always happy when I know when United have won.”

Last chance for Nani and Anderson

August 3, 2009 Tags: , Opinion 23 comments

Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha and Anderson Luís de Abreu Oliveira, share more than the lengthy name and short-form nick of their heritage. Bought for a combined total of more than £35 million in summer 2007, each is also under huge pressure to perform in the coming campaign as two of United’s most expensive ever young imports. The pair, having suffered what can be reasonably described as a ‘difficult second season’ at Old Trafford, could find that the campaign ahead is the last in a red shirt such was their under performance in the previous year. It would be a harsh call perhaps, but the realities of modern football dictate that United cannot wait forever for promise to migrate into performance.

Indeed, the future of Nani and Anderson has been repeatedly questioned in the media of late – with the aforementioned Portuguese winger often thought to be leaving for new pastures. However, Sir Alex Ferguson, who is not prone to criticising players in public, has consistently defended the pair, including after the recent pre-season Audi Cup in Munich.

“They are young, for a start,” said Ferguson. “And when you are young, you have the ambition to get better. Not only that, but they have the right platform at Manchester United and the right training development.”

“I expect to see great improvement and I have got no fears about it. Anderson is 21 and Nani is 22. They’re young boys and they’re playing at the highest level of football, so yes they will improve.”

Improve they must. This is especially true of Nani who was a shadow of his former self last season, starting just seven Premier League games. That the winger also started six Carling Cup matches, playing alongside the reserves and squad fringe, was a clear indicator of Nani’s fall down the Old Trafford player hierarchy. Statistics aside, Nani’s failure to mature must have been frustrating for a manager who prides himself on the development of youth. While Nani is just a year younger than the departed Cristiano Ronaldo, he is miles away from the quality of the Real Madrid player.

Anderson, meanwhile, was frustrated by injury and the search for form last season. Fans, who had become used to the player’s authoritative displays in his début campaign, rarely saw the best of the Brazilian in the early part of the season. While the player was voted Man-of-the-Match in United’s low-key April win over Portsmouth, it was a rare highlight in an otherwise disappointing season.

The pressure may be the same but the challenge is different for each of the young stars. While Anderson has quickly built a bank of credit with the fans – outplaying both Steven Gerrard and Cesc Fabregas will do that – Nani is a poor performance away from becoming the squad’s bogeyman. Instinctively, fans understand that while Anderson has the making of a world class central midfielder, Nani is doing little more than flattering to deceive.

The Brazilian must add goals to the authority he hopes to regain. A stunning strike against Boca Juniors in the Audi Cup will undoubtedly help his confidence. Nani meanwhile must compensate for the loss of Ronaldo, which many fans already believe is a task beyond him.