Rafael leaves loved – and with a potential unfulfilled

Rafael da Silva

Picture the scene. Downtown Hong Kong, late July 2005. The mist rolls off Victoria Peak to shroud glass and concrete in a blanket of white-grey as it so often does in these parts. At one end of Hong Kong Football Club’s nondescript stadium, the glistening stands of the Jockey Club; the other, the sounds of […]

Double exposure

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Group C - Manchester United v Valencia - Old Trafford

On Sunday night’s Match of the Day 2 a man previously mooted as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor spoke candidly on his admiration for what he believes is the makings of Ferguson’s next and possibly final great side. Despite Everton defending resolutely for 83 minutes against Manchester United at the weekend, David Moyes admitted that the […]

Rafael’s promise a blessing and a curse

Rafael Da Silva

Despite his crossing ability, Gary Neville has been more a full-back who can attack than a proper attacking player in the mould of Cafu. Yet, Rafael da Silva’s emergence this season has allowed Sir Alex Ferguson, perhaps for the first time in his Manchester United career, to depend on his right full-back to provide genuine […]

The defence has it

Rio Ferdinand Nemanja Vidic

Should Manchester United complete a 19th domestic title come May it will have little to do with star player Wayne Rooney. Nor, though influential, will Nani take the plaudits. Ditto Dimitar Berbatov, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Anderson. Much as United’s attacking players can take overdue credit for becoming the division’s the second highest goalscorers, […]

Wrong footed full-backs

Da Silvas brothers

Wrong footed full-backs have always existed of course – Phil Neville, Dennis Irwin and John O’Shea – right-footed players, have often been deployed on the left. It didn’t matter all that much. Defenders did very little but defend, especially in the Premier League where the classical, rigid 4-4-2 has been the formation du jour. But […]

Nev signs but Rafael’s time has come

Gary Neville, Manchester United’s 35-year-old club captain, has signed a one year contract extension that will keep the defender at Old Trafford until 2011. The extension is just reward for Neville, who has forced his way back into the United side after more than 18 months on the sidelines. The right-back has appeared 597 times […]

O brother, where art thou?

da Silva twins

Damn! We’re in a tight spot. At least referee Chris Foy was on Tuesday night when the Merseyside-born official booked the wrong da Silva brother in United’s Carling Cup victory over Barnsley. Foy showed Fabio a yellow card for an 83rd minute tackle on Jamal Campbell-Ryce, when his twin Rafael should have received the caution. […]