A settled player, who is valued by his club and manager, has the unequivocal backing of his boss. A united front is portrayed in the press as the club maintains a facade of unity, regardless of the chastising that occurs behind the scenes.
Settled, valued players are protected in the public sphere, not used as a scapegoat.
All we needed to do was see the game out by keeping possession. But Nani decided to try and beat a player, lost the ball and they got a penalty kick. He’s an individual and he’s a player that wants to beat men so we’re not going to discourage him from that. But in that situation if he’d have kept the ball in the corner flag the game is over.
If it was Wayne Rooney or Robin van Persie who had lost the ball, the issue would have been dismissed as an uncharacteristic lapse, before being dealt with behind the club’s shroud of secrecy. The fact that Ferguson chose to air his dissatisfaction with Nani in the glare of the public is the clearest indicator yet that the Portuguese’s time at the club is in its twilight.
A move away from the club for a man who, last season, was one of United’s most consistent performers, would not be too much of a surprise. It was rumoured throughout the summer that clubs were willing to come in for the disillusioned star, with Zenit St. Petersburg and AC Milan among the linked clubs.
Yet, a move failed to develop.
After a series of frankly awful displays this season, Nani has begun to feature more as a substitute, with Ferguson choosing substance over the Portuguese's, at times, hollow style.
When he is on form, Nani is frightening.
With electric pace, dizzying skill and a fearsome shot, he can be the bane of defences the world over. Yet, he is blighted by a debilitating inconsistency that can just as easily render him totally incompetent, as he drifts further out of a game that isn't going his own way.
With an innate aversion to the defensive aspects of the job, when he is not on the attacking button, so to speak, Nani becomes a passenger.
Teams with title and continental aspirations cannot carry passengers, and judging by his recent comments, it seems Ferguson is starting to see that.
In Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Shinji Kagawa, United have a surfeit of fairly consistent wing talent. When he is on form, Nani is of a similar ilk.
Yet, when he loses his mojo, Nani transcends into Ali Dia light.
Although such a comparison is very much an over-exaggeration, the facts are patently obvious. If their mission to win back their Premier League title is to be a success, Manchester United can no longer afford to shoulder Nani’s frequent deficiencies.
On current form, his selection is a gamble, as you don't know which Nani will turn up.
Title winners are not gambling men.