Is it a Bird?… No, he’s just got braided hair you bigot! Is it a plane? … Well, he’s carrying a bit of extra cargo. and in some areas he’s first class (?!) … NO! It’s Anderson Luís de Abreu Oliveira. Anderson. Ando. Player of the season 2012. My hero *swoon*.
I tried calling Paddy Power (If ever anyone was destined to become the proprietor of a bookmakers based solely on their birth certificate alone then Paddy’s your man. Possibly only eclipsed by Bet Fred) to place a wager on Ando becoming Player of the Season for 2012 but they refused to take it. Not because it was a forgone conclusion, I just owe them a lot of money (Lies! I was actually addicted to gambling as a teenager, but now cigarettes and alcohol have filled the void). Anyway, where am I going with this waste of a paragraph? Anderson may not be the first name that springs to mind when people propose their suggestions for heirs to the POTY mantle but I’ve been banging on about Ando now since half-way through last season so I’m sticking with him.
Did you know that since his arrival in 2007 he has never completed a full pre-season programme due to injury. That’s his whole United career to date, going into the season not fully prepared. Longer term injuries aside, including the potential career threatening cruciate ligament he ruptured, it’s no wonder he’s been susceptible to niggles and struggled with fitness. Let’s be honest about it he has never really had an athletic frame. Or to put it in a more sympathetic way he doesn’t appear to be a player who is ‘naturally fit’ like say a Becks or a Giggsy. He struggles with fitness.
There is a ground swelling of growing admiration and hope for Ando. A lot of it genuine. But also a lot of it coming from a position of “Well this is all we’ve got without Scholesy and with no ‘big signings’, so let’s get on with it”. But I think that that absolutely undermines Ando’s potential to be our new ‘big’ player. I think he’s the midfield player we’re missing. But great news, we’re not missing him, cos we’ve already got him. That fella who wears the number eight.
He’s a bundle of tenacity, all action, hungry, wants the ball, gives the ball, master of little triangles, big triangles, competent finisher, creative spark, fearless, hard and soft in equal measure, has a passing range of note, exponent of the spectacular, capable of the subtle and he also has proven form in one of the requirements from my personal worthy of worship tick list – he likes to ham up his goal celebrations, check.
(One weakness: He has an apparent problem with heading, can anyone provide evidence of him heading the ball?)
The problem he has had has been with his relationship with this ugly word that in football circles is a thing of beauty as it harnesses success … consistency. He’s young and still learning his trade in one of the toughest divisions in the world. The team can’t wait for him for ten games to find his range of passing. When you’ve had the likes of Paul Scholes who need ten minutes to find theirs it’s even harder. But now in the best condition he’s been in, his time I think is now. He will still try and do too much, because he’s hungry and still learning. He will run to each end of the pitch forgetting which position he’s been earmarked to hold and when the ball finally comes to him he will kick it like his legs are made of concrete with balls of blu-tack for feet. As he matures he will develop this aspect of his game. For now we should enjoy his willingness to do it all and not berate him, because with a little bit of patience, like SAF is showing him, we will have some player.
I confess I don’t actually think that this will be the season that Ando gets POTY, but that’s not because I think he can’t. I think this season has come to soon in his development. 2014 is a more realistic target. I’m still sticking with my prediction for him for POTY, because at heart I’m still a gambling man and sometimes the outsider comes up on the rails. (Feel free to substitute that last line for any racing cliche of your choosing) I predict the plaudits to come thick and fast for him as the season barrels along towards the business end. He’s just completed his first full pre-season. Premier League beware.