Boys from Brazil allow Ferguson to rest easy
ALEX Ferguson intends to rest his established players for the visit of Queens Park Rangers to Old Trafford tonight.
But the Manchester United manager has warned the Championship club that his boys from Brazil are eager to use the Carling Cup tie to further enhance their flourishing reputations.
The likes of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Rio Ferdinand will take a back seat in order for South American youngsters Anderson and Rafael da Silva -- already pushing Wes Brown and Gary Neville for the right-back position -- to make rare starts in the fourth-round tie.
With a combined age of 38 and a total of 27 Premier League starts between them, the duo are still fledglings, yet Ferguson believes he has already seen enough of them to be genuinely excited about their prospects.
The United boss described Rafael's debut in August as "sensational", while Anderson has a "terrific" future ahead of him.
If United fans knew little about Rafael before the weekend then they know an awful lot more now after the 18-year-old's stunning goal against Arsenal.
His delightful finish provided United with one of the few positives from a 2-1 defeat at the Emirates Stadium.
Yet it was clear to Ferguson as far back as early August that he had something special on his hands.
The venue was London Road and Rafael, along with his twin brother Fabio, had just taken part in their first game for a year against Peterborough in a pre-season friendly.
"Rafael was a sensation at Peterborough -- a real eye opener," Ferguson said.
"He hadn't played for a year yet played the full 90 minutes at Peterborough. You know what football is like -- sometimes it turns up some star, a little nugget, and certainly on the evidence of the Peterborough game we have a good player."
The Da Silva twins first came to United's attention during a junior tournament in France. They kept tabs on them and their star performances in helping Fluminense win the Manchester United/Nike Premier Cup in Hong Kong three years ago convinced them they should be signed up.
But much to the annoyance of Fluminense, Ferguson did that in February 2007, although red tape prevented them from bringing the pair to England on a full-time basis until earlier this year. To obtain work permits the twins needed to apply for Portuguese citizenship and, finally, United had to wait for international clearance from the Brazilian FA, which they received prior to the Peterborough game.
The effort to secure the duo appears to be paying off for Ferguson, just as the £19m required to secure Anderson's signature has so far proved money well spent.
So impressed has the Scot been with Anderson, who arrived from Porto 18 months ago, that the United manager has backed the player to become the club's next midfield legend.
"Anderson is a different type of player altogether to Roy Keane,'' said Ferguson, "but when you are looking for that central midfield player -- we've got Scholes, who is coming to the end of his career; Roy Keane has left us to try his hand at management -- you say, 'Who is going to function for Manchester United?'
"Then a 19-year-old lad comes in and you see his performance level. You know he is going to become a terrific player and life moves on.
"When I first came here they used to say Bryan Robson was king and you cannot win a game without him. They thought you could never find another Robson, but then Roy Keane came along and filled the breach marvellously."
He added: "Then they thought you would never get another Keane, but then someone like Anderson steps through the door and the cycle just keeps going." (© Daily Telegraph, London)