Anderson is a figure at United that is circled by debate. Some impatient supporters find themselves wanting more from Anderson going forward and want him to turn into the goalscoring sensation his promise had led them to desire. When Manchester United spent broke the bank in the summer of 2007 and splashed £50 million bringing in new talent to the team, Anderson was the most interesting signing of the bunch. The unknown Brazilian playmaker was touted by the media as the possible successor to the indomitable Ronaldinho and judging from his highlights reel from his time as a youth player, it was not hard to see why.
Since joining United however, Anderson has not exactly hit the dizzy heights that everyone had hoped he would achieve, having only scored 5 goals in 129 appearances but I am here to stand by his side and support his cause, for I am tired of seeing fans simply venting their frustrations against a player that is still growing. Considering Anderson is only 23 years of age and a midfielder is considered at his peak when he hits 26, he still has 3 years to grow into the superstar we all imagined he could be. Unfortunately for Anderson, injuries have blighted the quick progression of our Samba star: a cruciate ligament injury in his left knee in February 2009 kept him out for the remainder of that year and it wasn’t until the latter part of the next campaign that we were beginning to see the best from Anderson. A brace against Schalke in the semi-final of the Champions League was quickly followed by a goal against Blackpool in the last game of the season as he looked to be taken great steps forward in his growth as a player. A good off season for Anderson could set him up well for what is his make or break season in a United shirt. Now that Owen Hargreaves and Paul Scholes have left gaping holes in the midfield, Anderson has the chance to make himself the missing link that we have been craving for some time now.
The reason Anderson has changed as a player since coming to United is down only to SAF. He chose to try and quell the flamboyant side of his game and mould him into what could emerge as a stalwart defensive midfielder with the extrovert ability to bring the ball forward in possession, precisely the player United crave right now. Take what some consider his best performance in a United shirt for an example of how he has changed, the 1-0 victory against Liverpool at Anfield in 2007. He was ferocious that day and kept Gerrard on a tight leash as he ran around and controlled the tempo of the game for United and looked all the part a player with the potential to be a world beater. SAF always recognised his strengths and stood firmly by his side in December 2010 by giving Anderson a new four-and-a-half year contract deal during a purple patch of form.
For me, if United are going to replace Paul Scholes from within immediately then Anderson represents our greatest hope. He just lacks the consistency of a seasoned professional but a good pre-season tour in America can do the world of good for him. If he can bring his shooting game back to his pre-United capabilities and bring the composure in possession he has chosen to show only at points during his United career, then he could well emerge as one of the most well rounded central midfielders in the Premier League. Patience comes to those who wait and I am a firm believer that United fans will have to wait no longer than this season to see the best of Anderson. I think he will get into the double figures for goals this season and play an integral role in United claiming number 20. If SAF had enough faith in Anderson’s potential to give him a 4 year contract in December then he must have real belief that he will eventually fulfil on the promises he was signed for. That is good enough for me.