Sunday 8 December 2019

£26m Anderson kicking his heels in United's reserves

Where does Anderson go from here after finding himself selected alongside Manchester United's emerging youngsters in the reserve side against Sunderland? Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images
Where does Anderson go from here after finding himself selected alongside Manchester United's emerging youngsters in the reserve side against Sunderland? Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Mark Ogden

He was once billed as being 'better than Wayne Rooney' and signed to replace Paul Scholes, but seven years on, Anderson has become the player that Manchester United simply cannot get rid of.

As much as it may have bruised their respective egos as well-paid and highly-rated teenagers to spend an evening playing for United reserves at an empty Old Trafford on Monday night, Adnan Januzaj and Luke Shaw will ultimately reap the long-term benefits of the odd reality check alongside the stiffs.

Januzaj's hat-trick against Sunderland's second-string and Shaw's fitness-related run-out may even move the pair up the pecking order for a place in Louis van Gaal's team for Sunday's Premier League encounter with Leicester City.

But while Januzaj and Shaw can see silver linings, where on Earth does Anderson go from here after finding himself selected alongside United's emerging youngsters against Sunderland?

At 26, and with 181 first-team appearances behind him at Old Trafford, the Brazilian midfielder should be entering the prime of his career and justifying the now laughable claim, by United's then-European scout Martin Ferguson, that he had identified a prospect "better than Rooney" at Porto.

Sporting a new shaven-headed haircut against Sunderland's reserves, it was initially difficult to identify the once-dreadlocked Anderson amid the array of teenage wannabes.

A player who struck a successful penalty in the 2008 Champions League final against Chelsea and then started the 2009 final against Barcelona in Rome appeared to be just another young hopeful until it became evident that it was actually the player United paid in excess of £26m to sign in May 2007.

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