Preferred to for an FA cup game by the out of form Antonio Valencia, who is struggling to replicate the kind of form that saw him named Manchester United’s player of the year last season, and the returning from injury Ashley Young tells you the story of Nani’s season so far. There is seemingly no resolution to his contract situation, his form has dipped and at times Nani has looked almost disinterested but this was not the case last night; Nani was magnificent.
The starting line up saw the absence of Manchester United’s two main match-winners, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. When Nani came on for the unfortunately injured Phil Jones it was clear to see he assumed this role. He had two early sighters, one of which was a wonder-strike volley which hit the upright, the other a left footed hit from the edge of the box forcing Reading goalkeeper Federici to make an impressive save. Nani continued to threaten the Reading defence throughout the game.
Eventually Nani took a wonderful touch from Valencia’s pass to set himself and put the ball past Federici for the opener. A few minutes later he provided a delicious cross for Javier Hernandez to put away and put the reds 2-0 up. These two contributions being enough to win the game for United.
Nani won the battle of the 3 wingers as we found all 3 of them on the pitch at the same time. He shone above the rest and put in one of the best performances by a United winger all season, surely putting himself into contention for some of the forthcoming big games. It’s never been a question of talent with Nani. He’s got it, and lots of it. Both Anderson and the manager commented on it post-match.
“His contribution was terrific. I had the feeling he would win the match for us. He’s a fantastic talent. You could see he was right on form when he came on. If he keeps that form, it makes my job more difficult,” said Sir Alex Ferguson, in particular.
Some of the things Nani does with a football is incredible but he has an unpredictability to his game which leaves you wondering which Nani will turn up. Some indifferent games this season have been testament to that. Regardless, his display last night had shades of 2010/11 about it where his input had a heavy bearing on where the Premier League title ended up.
That’s the bar Nani has set in the past and the level he must try to achieve on a consistent basis. If he manages to maintain this sort of form, Nani will no doubt be an important asset to Manchester United for the remainder of the season.