What has happened to Rafael Da Silva?

Last Wednesday night, whilst Manchester United were putting in an exceedingly valiant first half performance in the cauldron that is the Allianz Arena my Dad out of nowhere made an unbelievably bold statement (he usually doesn’t speak much during games). He was convinced that the confidence which has been so anonymous within this United side in the past 6 months was slowly but surely creeping back into some of these United players. Being the pessimist/realist that I am, I immediately dismissed these claims. But in the past few days it has provoked my thoughts about whether the seemingly absurd claim my father had made might actually have some thread of justification. There’s no doubt that the likes of Rooney, Smalling, Kagawa and Mata (to name a few) have appeared to look restored in recent weeks. There was one player however who certainly doesn’t belong to this list of players. Although he didn’t feature last Wednesday, Rafael has cut a disconcerting figure in the right back position all season. His unorthodox running style and at times unsettling confidence on the ball has left him to be seen by some as a hindrance on the rest of the side. His overlapping runs have been minimal this season and his crossing has been nothing short of wayward. When you realise that this man is our only natural right back makes the fact that we are sat in 7th position seem somewhat more reasoned and coherent.

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When Gary Neville left the club I was generally perturbed about who would fill that right back spot for the next few years. Thankfully, this Brazilian kid came out of nowhere to fill the boots of one of the country’s greatest ever right backs quite capably towards the business end of the 2011-2012 season. His tenacity and fearlessness combined with superb technical ability somewhat eliminated any ambiguity regarding that right back slot. Last season especially, Rafael really did step up his game. Playing 40 games collectively with a 86.3% passing accuracy and average of 6 tackles per game. He was instrumental in a large proportion of United attacks and more than often covered more ground than anybody on the pitch. He even popped up with some unforgettable goals, his curling effort at Anfield (below) and that absolute screamer against QPR will live long in the memory.

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So what has happened to poor Rafa this season? With 19 appearance altogether this is a season to forget for the Brazilian. My theory isn’t a nice one but it is the only one that seems logical, it’s the absence of the father figure in the form of Sir Alex and the unsettling arrival of David Moyes who evidently prefers more traditional full backs who don’t bomb forward as much. Its almost like when you are forced to like this new man that your mum has met and you have to accept that this deviant looking fellow is your new father. It’s unnerving to say the least, all Rafael knew before Moyes was Sir Alex and therefore he only excelled under Sir Alex. Moyes’s predecessor liked to emplement an expansive and overloading style of play which suited Rafael because it meant he had a lot of time and space to charge up and down that right flank. With this more level and straightforward approach Rafael has been forced to alter his game and work more with his back line and less with the right midfielder ahead of him. I’m sure that the persistent change of right mid has been unsettling for Rafa too, being a right mid myself, I always relished having an attacking right back behind me who I could work with.

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Regardless of whether Rafael stays at this club or heads elsewhere it’s vitally important that another right back comes in. Its difficult to outline actual names but its imperative to find someone who can tackle vigorously but also swing in crosses frequently without leaving the defence a man short. Somebody who impressed me for Bayern especially in the first leg was that of another brazilian right back Rafinha. Whether he’s a realistic target remains debatable but would certainly waltz into this United team. Watching a really rather average AC Milan the other week revealed that they have an extremely talented right back named Mattia De Sciglio, this is somebody with deadly accurate crosses at the tender age of 21.

The next 5 games are crucial for Moyes, if my dads prophecy was right and United do triumph then people will take note that Manchester United undoubtedly had a diabolical season but did finish strongly. This type of thing happened with Liverpool last season, they finished 7th but had a really impressive end to the campaign. This instilled a lot of confidence into the players and, well, I don’t want to mention how they’re doing at the moment but you see my point. Should this come to fruition with Rafael involved then it will only lead to a positive effect on the currently beleaguered brazilian.

 

About Leo Nieboer 89 Articles
Mourning the loss of Danny Welbeck

13 Comments

    • rafa has been a goo RB, with a good attacking mentality compared with the other RBs we have in the club. But with the arrival of the new manager, you can see how he turn things around in a negative way. He lacks technicalities and inspiration, looking straight into his face is discauragment instead of encauragment. For the club to lose players like rafael da silva, the legendary ryne gigs and and other young lads coming up in the team, is much better we lose the old man with old modern football. Since his arival at the club, players have been on and off the pitch due 2 injuries been sustain because of his style of slowgish and and dangerous way of play.

  1. 1. He was our only right back last season too.
    2. Moyes had Coleman and Baines at Everton. They wouldn’t go forward at all would they?

  2. Agreed……Moyes…..he is no coach, no tactical genius, no inspiration…..THE MAN IS A JOKE………Gary Neville and Giggs need to take over……….They have respect by fans, media and players.
    Should this idiot stay,it will take years to recover……It is a very SERIOUS SITUATION…….

  3. Sigh…as previous posters have quite rightly said, Moyes happened.
    Nothing much left to add to that.
    Simple really.

  4. Rafael has spent quite a lot of time out injured this season. Moyes does like his full backs to bomb forward and other than being rash at times, Rafael is one of the few players who has not been poor. He was our only outlet against Liverpool. I think this article is way too harsh on him.

    But I do agree on needing a new RB. He is too injury prone and that affects us as we don’t have a viable replacement (we do have other RBs such as Varela and Janko who are in the reserves and have used Smalling and Jones there).

    Also, not to defend Moyes but the fact that he likes attacking full backs and the article gets that wrong (along with Rafael’s injury record), how can I take the rest of the article seriously?

  5. I’d agree that there has been signs of life lately and with the right additions we can improve remember it was only a year ago that lot all wanted Rogers out, realistically who do we replace Moyes with ?

    As for attacking full backs the article fell apart Coleman and Baines are two of the most attacking in the PL and both were purchased for peanuts by Moyes.
    This year has been a disaster.

  6. Meant to say check out Marko Petkovic 21 year old right back at Red Star Belgrade looks a player and not crazy money.

  7. Smear article, actually read this via an MU app and came here to decry it. There are problems, fullbacks ability to bomb on isn’t one of them. Where is the width coming from otherwise?

    Sincerely

    D. Moyes

  8. His is not good enough, he would not get a start at any of our rivals.He is a liability in defence and his cross is not good enough and he shoots like a drunk . He has heart and courage and the right desire but he is not good enough . The longer we persist with players like rafa the longer we will not win anything.spurs are a good team for rafa to play for.

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