Anderson's United Exodus Claim Hints at Unprecedented Old Trafford Unrest

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Anderson's United Exodus Claim Hints at Unprecedented Old Trafford Unrest
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Anderson’s Manchester United days may be over, but his January move to Fiorentina hasn’t stopped the midfielder from adding to the current unease at his former club.

“I am sure that lots of players want out,” he said, as per Mark Ogden of the Telegraph. “Especially people like myself and Nani, who have been in Manchester for seven or eight years.”

Both Anderson and Nani, who is currently nursing a thigh injury, arrived at Old Trafford in 2007, shortly after United reclaimed the Premier League title after three seasons without a first-place finish.

Their additions helped to bolster an already-elite squad that included the likes of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The pair contributed to an additional four titles over the next six seasons, and they also saw action in the 2008 Champions League final, which United won on penalties.

But both have also come under increasing criticism in recent years as fitness concerns and lack of form have combined to limit their minutes. Anderson, for his part, saw his Premier League appearances dwindle to just 17 last term, and upon completion of his loan to Fiorentinahe had featured in just four matches.

Jon Super/Associated Press
Nani nearly joined Juventus in January and will likely leave Manchester United during the summer.

Nani, meanwhile, was also shopped during the January transfer window, and according to the Metro, he was closing in on a move to Juventus before the deal fell apart at the last minute.

As far as he and Nani are concerned, Anderson’s Monday comments are hardly a revelation. And the nature of his remarks are purely speculative—they only hint at turbulence within the club.

That said, as recently as December it was being reported that Robin van Persie had asked to leave United, with Sky Sports claiming the Dutchman had clashed with manager David Moyes.

Then a January report in the Guardian suggested Moyes was struggling to convince several United players of his credentials. In the same article, striker Danny Welbeck seemed to sound hardly enthused when he described the “new experience” of working under a manager other than Sir Alex Ferguson, who retired in the spring.

And in a January interview, Ferdinand openly criticized Moyes’ selection policy. He was quoted by BT Sport (h/t the Guardian) as saying the former Everton boss “doesn’t name the team beforehand.”

He added:

When you know you’re playing, the intensity goes up a little bit more on match day. That’s what you need to try to make sure you’re doing, even if you don’t know you’ll be playing—to try to get to that intensity you’d be at when you know you’re playing.

Of all the adjectives that could be used to describe United’s performances so far this campaign, “intense” is certainly not one of them.

Jon Super/Associated Press/Associated Press
Robin van Persie (left) was reported to be unhappy at Old Trafford back in the autumn, and Wayne Rooney's (right) situation is rarely secure.

Ferdinand, of course, is out of contract in the summer, as is fellow centre-back Vidic and left-back Patrice Evra. With Anderson’s exit and Nani’s likely departure, that brings to five the number of players who won’t be back next season.

But is that what Anderson means when he says “lots” of his former teammates are looking to leave Old Trafford?

It’s unlikely.

Presently seventh in the standings and facing a trip to leaders Arsenal in just over a week, United are dealing with the sort of discomfort they haven’t faced in the Premier League era. That players would want to jump a sinking ship is hardly surprising, but it’s startling when it’s United that are being submerged.

The end result, especially if they fail to secure Champions League qualification for the first time since the mid-1990s, is that English football’s record champions will likely have some uncomfortable decisions to make come the summertime.

Beyond the manager’s situation—and Moyes’ job security becomes less assured with each defeat—there exists the possibility that a handful of players could table transfer requests if a top-four spot isn’t reached, and then there is the simple reality that the current squad isn’t good enough to compete for major honours, anyway.

And while the one problem could be used to help solve the other should Moyes embrace the idea of a complete overhaul, he would still have to convince transfer targets that United is a better destination than Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester City, to say nothing of the continental giants.

Was Anderson being smug in offering his parting shot?

Perhaps.

But he only knows what everybody else already does—that a losing team isn’t fun to be around, and that top-level players will think little of waving goodbye as soon as the chance to win something presents itself, provided the wages are adequate.

Yes, these are trying times for Moyes. But the summer will present even more of a test.

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