Time for Anderson to stand up and be counted at United

The midfielder has spoken of the big season that lies ahead for him – it could be his last at Old Trafford if he fails to live up to his billing this term.

Manchester United’s search for a new midfielder over the transfer window had a lot to do with the fact that the current options were deemed not to be good enough to take on top-drawer opponents. With the exception of Michael Carrick, the rest of the players in the Old Trafford boiler room failed to live up to their potential last season.

Marouane Fellaini’s addition will add strength and force, Tom Cleverley has started the campaign well, while the evergreen Ryan Giggs will always be available to David Moyes. With Darren Fletcher still recovering from illness, the other contender for a starting berth in United’s central midfield is Anderson.

Much was expected of the Brazil international after a big-money move from Porto in June 2007, and at times the South American has shown glimpses of his considerable ability and why the current Premier League champions shelled out a cool £20 million to secure his services.

The problem is that Anderson has failed to consistently deliver for United in the six seasons he has been at the club. Over the last 24 months he has been disrupted by niggling injuries, and only made 17 collective Premier League starts for the side in 2011-12 and 2012-13 combined.

The Brazilian has spoken of his additional training over the off-season and has admitted he needs to improve this term.

"I just want to play as many games as I can. I just hope I can stay clear of injuries," Anderson told Inside United.

"I've been training hard on the training pitch and in the gym and working on my conditioning. I am pleased with how things are going and, whenever the manager needs me, I will be ready.

"I have been doing more running, which has helped my fitness. The physios in Portugal have helped me a lot, as have all the coaches at United. I have also been working hard myself. I have built up the strength in my knee, worked hard in training.

"I have been eating well and sleeping well, while I have also been coming into training on my days off to do more work. It has really helped me and I feel great.

"I think it's a big season for me, for everyone. However, I don't want to say that and then pick up another injury. I have often started seasons well, played six or seven games and then got injured.

"I'll tell you at the end of the season if it's been a big season for me!"

Anderson has been linked with a move away from the club in the past and even seemed open to a change at one point. Another underwhelming season could well be his last in the red of United.

Given the lack of top-class options at Moyes’ disposal, there is no reason why the South American can’t play the majority of United’s games this term. Realistically he is up against Cleverley for a place in the side and if he can get into form could well be an important man in the Old Trafford side’s title defence.

Whether this happens remains to be seen. If it doesn’t United may well be tempted to cut their losses next summer and try to recoup as much of the transfer fee that they splurged on him six years ago as possible.

image: © Gordon Flood

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch