“He’s better than Rooney!” – Manchester United’s ‘party animal’ who Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to hit with a stick
Anderson, while being a fantastically gifted footballer, did not reach his full potential at Manchester United. Many individuals have speculated on why he struggled, but there are various possibilities.
Anderson was under pressure at Manchester United after signing on the recommendation of Martin Ferguson, Sir Alex Ferguson’s brother and one of his most trusted scouts. Ferguson, the manager, was advised that Anderson, the best player at the last Under-17 World Cup, may become a better player than Wayne Rooney.
The Brazilian joined United in the summer of 2007 for a fee of £27 million. His career in England began brightly, as he appeared on 38 occasions for Manchester United in his first season, winning the Premier League and the Champions League in 2008.
While Anderson was not named to the starting lineup against Chelsea in Moscow, he came on as a substitute and calmly converted his penalty in the shootout, which the Reds won 6-5. By all accounts, he was one of the first players to raise his hand and volunteer to take a spot-kick. He’d never felt such pressure before, and yet he was one of the calmest individuals in the stadium.
In 2008, the midfielder won the prestigious Golden Boy award. Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Wayne Rooney, and others have previously won the award, which is given to the greatest footballer under the age of 21 playing in Europe.
Despite the fact that Ferguson was the one who recruited the athlete, he was initially skeptical. It took his brother traveling to Brazil to see Anderson persuade him that he was worth a shot.
Ferguson recalled in My Autobiography, “I sent Martin over to watch him in every game for four or five weeks.” “‘Alex, he’s better than Rooney!’ exclaimed Martin.
“‘Don’t say that for Christ’s sake,’ I told him. ‘He’ll have to be really good to beat Rooney.’ Martin was unwavering.”
The midfielder arrived as the club’s second most expensive signing at the time, with only Wayne Rooney costing more, and appeared to have everything required to fill the significant vacancy that Paul Scholes would leave. He couldn’t have had a better first season; despite failing to impact on the scoresheet, he demonstrated that Ferguson was correct to trust his brother.
Given his bright start at Old Trafford, his subsequent decline was all the more disheartening. Anderson was expected to mature and become an important member of Manchester United’s squad, but his career took a different path.
While there was no guilt in being passed over for Ryan Giggs in the 2011 Champions League final, the Welshman was 37 at the time and nearing the conclusion of his storied career. Given Barcelona’s superiority in that position, the choice to place him in the center of the field was quite contentious. It was a pivotal date in Anderson’s demise in many ways.
Former United coach Mick Clegg explained why the Brazilian did not reach his full potential at Old Trafford earlier this year. Anderson, he revealed, was a popular member of the Reds squad as well as a talented footballer. Clegg, on the other hand, claimed that the athlete didn’t fulfill his full potential because he was a ‘party animal.’
Anderson was ‘lazy’ and unwilling to work hard enough, according to Clegg, who worked with the midfielder at Old Trafford from 2007 to 2011.
“Anderson was one of them. You’d never meet a better person; he was well-liked by everyone, but he was a slacker “He told The Athletic about it. “He was always making excuses. I used to have a stick, and I told Alex Ferguson early on that if he kept going, I’d strike him with my blood stick.
“Fergie couldn’t believe her eyes. ‘Don’t even think about it. It was really expensive for me. You can’t possibly be hitting one of my players, can you?’ Fergie then came to find me six weeks later. ‘Where is that bloody stick?’ he demanded. ‘Give me the stick, please.’ ‘I want to punch him.’
“Anderson had the potential to be an absolute beast of a player. He only needed his head knocked on the floor. He didn’t stay in shape. He opted not to put forth the effort, therefore it’s difficult to sympathize with him. He loved to party.”
Anderson battled with injuries and conditioning issues during his time at United, and he was unable to start in lieu of Scholes or Michael Carrick. Mind you, not many other gamers did.
Rafael da Silva, Anderson’s former teammate, has previously mentioned Anderson’s fondness of fast food as a likely source of his Brazilian compatriot’s problems at Old Trafford. The former defender said that the United midfielder lacks concentration – except when it comes to McDonald’s.
Rafael stated in The Sunshine Kids, his joint autobiography with brother Fabio: “We could be on the team bus and pass a McDonald’s on the highway, and Anderson would spontaneously leap up and yell, ‘McDonald’s, McDonald’s.’
“The guy was insane, but I adored him. Give him a football and he’ll play with abandon, and if he gets a good run of games, he can play as well as any player in the league. Not only that, but when he was in form, we were playing fantastic football. He sustained a number of major injuries, and his issues with eating the way he did began to impair him.”
He continued: “This is something I’m serious about. I’m not sure he ever took anything seriously. He simply enjoyed life in a relaxed and carefree manner. That was a quality in some ways. It was what made him so popular and one of the club’s most popular players. However, he would consume whatever was placed in front of him.”
Anderson made 181 appearances for United, 171 of which were under Ferguson’s supervision. Following the departure of the Scot in 2013, the Brazilian only appeared 10 times more under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal. His final appearance for the Reds came in a 4-0 loss against MK Dons in 2014.
The midfielder left United in 2015, signing for Internacional in Brazil at the age of 26. Anderson’s return to his country, however, was far from ideal, as he missed a penalty in his debut. His second debut was cut short after 36 minutes because he needed an oxygen mask while playing in Bolivia’s capital, La Paz.
He briefly returned to Europe, signing for Turkish club Adana Demirspor, but his career was only headed in one direction.
Anderson, who played eight times for his country, retired in 2020 at the age of 31. His career promised so much, yet despite his evident talent, the player failed to realize his full potential. There are obviously various reasons for this, one of which, as Clegg stated, could be because he was a party animal. Another reason, as Rafael mentioned, was that he simply enjoyed McDonald’s too much.