Friday 23 March 2018

Ferguson thrilled after Nani's bedding-in yields purple patch

Simon Stone

Patience has proved to be a virtue for Alex Ferguson following Nani's devastating performances for Manchester United over the past fortnight.

Brought to Old Trafford in 2007 for more money than it took to secure the services of Cristiano Ronaldo from the same Sporting Lisbon source, apart from a few sporadic performances and a couple of eye-catching goals, Nani has failed to convince.

The critical voices have become louder in more recent times, to the point of ridicule by some, and it would have been no surprise if Ferguson had decided to sell the Portugal wide-man during last month's transfer window.

Instead, Ferguson remained faithful to the 23-year-old. His reward has been staggering. First, Nani ran Hull ragged at Old Trafford. Then he provided the impetus for United's Carling Cup semi-final triumph over Manchester City.

Yet even those performances were eclipsed by a mesmeric display against Arsenal last weekend that will stand comparison with any individual display in the Premier League this season.

While it would be tempting to simply claim Nani has stepped out of Ronaldo's shadow, Ferguson does not believe that is the case. The Scot thinks the adjustment to life at Old Trafford, that has been too much for some top-quality players -- Diego Forlan is a prime example -- has just taken a long time for one of United's quiet men.

"I don't think he was overshadowed by Ronaldo. It was just a question of maturity," said Ferguson. "Nani was young when he came here and he is quite a shy boy. Some players can adjust to coming to another country and joining Manchester United very easily.

"In the past, others have taken time. Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic came to us in the January but it was nearly a year before they hit the form we see them in now. Nani is much the same.

"We are pleased for him because when he is in that kind of form he is a great addition for us and everyone saw the influence he had on the game on Sunday."

That performance, coupled with Chelsea's surprising failure to beat Hull on Tuesday means United will leap back into top spot if they can overcome crisis club Portsmouth at Old Trafford today.

Manchester United v Portsmouth

Live, Setanta Sports 1, 3.0

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport