Reserve team matches are not exactly seen as a highlight on the season’s calendar but Manchester United’s clash with City on Tuesday night had more than the normal level of interest. United fielded a side worth £48 million against their multi millionaire neighbors in the 3-1 victory in the Manchester Senior Cup at Hyde’s Ewen Fields ground. Brazilian midfielder Anderson returned to action for the first time since suffering cruciate ligament damage in February by making a 60 minute appearance.
Despite the strength of United’s second string which also included Gary Neville, Chris Smalling, Michael Carrick, Wes Brown, Darron Gibson, Rafael and Federico Macheda, there was no place in the squad for the recently signed £7.4 million forward Bebe. Watched by manager Roberto Mancini, Manchester City had taken a first half lead through Alex Nimely before two goals from Macheda and a close range strike by Tom Cleverley sealed the win for United.
Anderson was only able to return to first team training last Thursday after undergoing surgery following the knee injury sustained in the Premier League victory against West Ham seven months ago but the £19 million midfielder appeared sharp and close to a senior return before being replaced by Joe Dudgeon on the hour mark.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping that the extended break has allowed the midfielder to re assess his future. “Anderson has an incredible talent” he said “he loves training and playing. He wants to play every game and train every day but that is a problem for me because at 22 he has not got the maturity to understand we operate a squad. When he does understand that, he will be a fantastic player here but last season he was talking about leaving because he was not playing in every game.”
Looking back on the time Anderson spent on the sidelines Sir Alex thinks that “Maybe it is a good thing he has been injured for a spell because he can look at the situation. In some ways I don’t want to change his mentality because it is wonderful to see someone who wants to play every minute of every day. If you have someone with that enthusiasm, you have to be careful you don’t check it to the point when you lose it. I didn’t talk to him about leaving, I just let him get it out of his system.”
Unlike some of the critics, it is obvious that Ferguson has faith in the Brazilian to come back strongly from his injury saying that “Maybe the injury has quelled the storm in his body because he came back here with the same enthusiasm and has been telling me he is ready to play. Everyone has seen the quality in his game and he will get his opportunity.”
How valuable can Anderson be in United’s midfield this season?