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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Anderson is a special talent

Anderson is being tipped by Sir Alex Ferguson for a very bright career at Old Trafford, and the Reds boss has intimated that the Brazilian starlet will one day succeed Paul Scholes as United’s midfield conductor.

"He's been absolutely superb; the boy's definitely got something special,” says Sir Alex in the latest issue of Inside United.

The 19-year-old’s rapid emergence since making his debut against Sunderland in September mirrors his swift ascension through football’s ranks.

He was signed by Porto in December 2005 having played just five senior games for Gremio in Brazil. And he’d experienced barely half a season in Portugal before breaking his leg in 2006/07, by which point United had already seen enough.

“There was an urgency to get him once we'd scouted him,” added the Reds boss. “Even though he'd broken his leg and had been out for four or five months, [we had to move] because the reports were saying he was the best young player in the world.

“At the time I was saying, 'for god's sake, let's calm down a bit here'. I knew he had real potential but I didn't want to put labels like that on him.”

Anderson’s arrival at Old Trafford was announced in May 2007 – a mere two weeks after United lifted the league title – but he was an unknown to most Reds. Since then, he has proven beyond doubt that he has the potential to live up to his reported £17million fee.

“We've been delighted with him,” adds Sir Alex. “He's proven himself to be a true central midfield player. But there is some luck attached to it because, before Paul Scholes got his injury, I could have had a dilemma because Paul prefers to play on the left side in midfield, and Anderson's position is the same.

“But since he's come into the team he's just taken off. He can tackle, he's lightning quick, he's brave and he can pass the ball. What he's got to prove is his goalscoring ability, because that's something Scholesy's always given us.

“His battle with [Cesc] Fabregas against Arsenal was interesting because they were two very influential players in the game. I think the boy Fabregas is going through a golden period at Arseanl, but I thought Anderson dominated that position... he did very well for us." Read more...

Hargreaves feels at home

Owen Hargreaves may have been frustrated by injuries in his first few months at Old Trafford, but the Reds midfielder says it took him no time at all to settle.

The 26-year-old appears to have finally overcome the tendonitis injury that plagued the start to his United career, and he has now started the last five league games for the Reds.

And while things are just starting to go right on the field, he reveals he’s not had any problems off it.

“I feel like I’ve been at the club for years,” he told MUTV. “I’ve known a lot of the players for a long time through the England set-up and, of course, the national team has trained at Carrington on numerous occasions and also played at Old Trafford. So it’s always been familiar to me.

“Being a United player is everything I expected and more. I’ve been really impressed with the club as an organisation, the people, the way everyone has taken to me. I’ve been hugely impressed with the quality of the players, the staff, the fans and also the style of football this team plays.

“The only disappointment has been that I’d like to have played more games. Hopefully that will change now.”

Despite the injury, Hargreaves was always comforted by the knowledge that Sir Alex Ferguson would deal with the problem in the right way.

“He has so far proved to be the perfect manager,” added Owen. “With the injury he's known when to rest me and when to give me games. But it’s not just the manager, all the coaches that work with the first team are excellent. They play an important role, but Sir Alex is the figurehead of it all.”

The aim now is for a run of games in the side, but that in itself brings its own challenges.

“The competition in midfield is great,” he adds. “We miss Scholesy at the moment, he’s such a great player, but Anderson has come in and he’s really starting to show what he’s capable of.

"We’ve got plenty of options with Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher pushing for places. It makes it difficult for the manager, which is a good thing.” Read more...

Saha: It can be a big year

Louis Saha thinks Sir Alex Ferguson's squad can get a trophy haul to match the 1999 Treble-winning legends. Manchester United easily qualified from their Champions League group, and are lurking behind leaders Arsenal in the Premier League. The United striker said: "We can win everything this season. We can target the League and Cup Double. And then the Treble - we are capable of it."
Ann Gripper, Daily Mirror