Manchester United midfielder Anderson could well be the missing ingredient for the Red Devils this year that catapults them to English and European title success.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was quick to praise the 24-year-old's match-changing cameo against Queens Park Rangers on the weekend—and rightly so—as the Brazilian midfielder gave the Red Devils a much-needed spark in midfield.
Anderson made a difference, there's no doubt about that.
We expected that QPR would have a sudden surge of determination and enthusiasm. It was too easy to give away possession in the first half in particular but when they scored, Anderson came on and we came to life.
Goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard also heaped praise on Anderson, calling him "one of the best players in the world at running with the ball, passing it and keeping the dynamic motion—a brilliant player" (per The Daily Mail).
And as welcoming and comforting as the praise is for Anderson, it does seem a little strange for it to be coming for a player who has largely been on the fringes at United.
Given the depth of talent the Red Devils have had in midfield over the past few seasons, it's been little wonder that the former Porto midfielder hasn't quite found his place at Old Trafford as he would have liked, and hasn't been afforded the frequent starting opportunities that he desired.
But perhaps this is the year that it all turns around for Anderson.
And in the process, he could well turn it around for United.
Coming off a title-less season last year where they bombed out in the UEFA Champions League and surrendered the English Premier League to Manchester City, it was clear that Sir Alex Ferguson's men needed some life again in midfield.
Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs—as good as they can be—were not the players they once were for the Red Devils, and younger midfielders such as Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher weren't convincing as ready-made replacements.
Ferguson went out and signed Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund to give them an attacking edge once more, but it meant a shift in formation away from the typical 4-4-2 and towards the 4-2-3-1, where two holding midfielders were required to set up attacks and position the team well.
The likes of Scholes, Carrick and Cleverley could all thrive in that role, but given what we've seen so far this season, it could well be the somewhat forgotten 24-year-old who becomes United's answer in midfield this year.
Due to injuries and age concerns, Anderson could be the missing ingredient that leads the Manchester club back into title-town this season.
Have a look at what the Red Devils have to work with at the moment.
Kagawa and Fletcher are both battling injuries, with the latter only just returning from a significant stint on the sidelines.
Carrick and Giggs have shown at times that they simply cannot keep up with the pace of the game through the middle and can be walked all over by a strong central presence—the most recent example being the shock 1-0 loss to Norwich City.
Tom Cleverley is young, Paul Scholes is old and suddenly we're left looking to the 24-year-old Anderson to inject his presence into this United side.
Sure, he won't start every week or receive the playing time that I'm sure he and his faithful supporters believe he deserves.
In a squad bereft of attacking creativity sometimes and lacking direction far too often, Anderson could well be the Red Devils' savior this season.
In a squad that has age problems on both ends and an injury list that grows longer every week, the 24-year-old Anderson could be what United need in the middle.
And in a squad that plays across a number of competitions, and is looking like being challengers in both domestic and international competitions this season, Anderson could well just be that missing ingredient that puts the Red Devils over the top this year.
It won't be often, and it might not even be spectacular.
But the 24-year-old Brazilian has an abundance of skill and talent on his day—class that could mix it with the very best midfielders in world football.
Perhaps this is the year that he proves that to be true.
What role do you think Anderson will play this season for United?
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