Of Sir Alex Ferguson’s many faults, lack of patience is not among them. The great Scot has, according to recent analysis, the most stable squad in European football, with players remaining at Old Trafford almost six years on average. That lengthy tenure is aided no doubt by Paul Scholes’, Ryan Giggs’ and Gary Neville’s longevity but the point remains – when it comes to some players, Ferguson has almost limitless patience.
In many ways Ferguson’s approach is anathema to the modern game, where high annual turnover of players and coaches is commonplace at many leading clubs. Yet, the flip side of this undoubtedly virtuous coin is the Scot’s seemingly unwavering loyalty to players that many supporters find insufferably frustrating.
Ferguson’s faith in Darron Gibson, Anderson and Gabriel Obertan, as three midfield examples, is based not on an aggregate of excellence but faith that each will come good in time. That they may, even if the evidence is scant to date.
Discounting any player as not fit for purpose comes with risk of course. The oft-repeated example of Darren Fletcher’s rise from fan pariah, cruelly dubbed ‘the Scottish player’, to an essential cog in the Red machine is now something of an Old Trafford cliché. Yet the 26-year-old Scot’s story is instructive – even those that do not posses natural talent in abundance can carve out a niche if Ferguson’s patience and the player’s will are in sync.
Expectation plays a hefty part in supporters’ reaction of course. Fletcher cost the club little, with the player not commanding a transfer fee and serving United on eminently reasonable wages until the Scot signed a new four-year contract in 2008. The same can be said of Gibson, who graduated through United’s academy, and even Obertan, whose £3.5 million fee made little impression on the club’s mammoth debt.
Anderson, by contrast, attracts a different level of expectation – and therefore criticism – having joined the club as Brazil’s ‘next Ronaldinho’ for more than £19 million in summer 2007.
But in each Ferguson has shown faith beyond concrete evidence; perhaps even beyond reason. While Anderson’s undoubted natural talent comes to the fore only sporadically, it is hard to recall any occasion on which Gibson or Obertan have truly impressed. Certainly against the highest level of opponent.
Anderson’s pace with the ball is a boon but the Brazilian’s impact is continually limited by horrendous passing statistics that in aggregate over three seasons barely reach 70 per cent successful completion. That the player neither scores nor creates goals has led to some fans to acerbically labelling the former Porto midfielder as United’s “fake Brazilian.”
Meanwhile, Obertan continues to run into blind alleys on the rare occasion he is selected for United’s first team. The French under-21 international appears to have little to no knowledge of the game’s mechanics. That nothing is left to chance at United, with players drilled in every small detail of gameplay and tactics, makes the wingers progress over the past 18 months – or lack thereof – all the more frustrating.
Then there is Gibson, who sank to new depths this week with two performances of such casual ineptitude as to call into question the very sanity of his selection. The Irishman, who lacks pace, touch, skill, vision or seemingly the ability to pick out a teammate with the simplest of passes, can at least shoot. Whether the Derry Dynamo’s long-range efforts actually work the goalkeeper is another point altogether.
Ferguson though is unlikely to give up on the trio with any speed. Indeed, the 69-year-old United manager believes that Anderson is the long-term successor to Scholes, despite the Brazilian lacking almost all the attributes that have made the flame-haired midfielder one of the finest midfielders of his or any generation. Time will presumably tell whether Anderson inflicts damage to United’s ambitions or aids them.
Whether Obertan and Gibson face a different fate is as yet unknown. The Frenchman is no closer to a first team berth than when he arrived at the club the summer before last. That Obertan has seen so little first team football, even with Giggs ageing, Antonio Valencia injured and Park Ji-Sung having an inconspicuous season, is relevant. Gibson’s one Champions and three Premier League starts this season tell the tale of a player who has seemingly progressed not one iota in five seasons on the fringe of United’s first team squad.
Each is tied to the club in the long-term though. Anderson signed a new four-and-a-half year contract in December that will keep the 22-year-old at Old Trafford until 2015. Meanwhile, Gibson is tied to the club until summer 2012, as is Obertan.
On current evidence Anderson will continue to frustrate until the penny finally drops. If it ever does. Obertan has natural talent if not the know-how to use it. Yet, with the least natural talent of the trio there seems little prospect, even from the most blinkered of supporters, of Gibson ever making a success of his time at Old Trafford.
If Fletcher’s rise to Old Trafford stardom was hugely surprising from those who followed the Scot with increasing frustration from 2003 to 2006, then a similar path taken by Gibson will be little short of miraculous. More talented players than the Irishman have left United, as Giuseppe Rossi and Ryan Shawcross might attest.
Fortunately for the 23-year-old Ferguson is of a more patient bent than most.
54 thoughts on “On occasion patience has no virtue”
I’ve always defended Anderson (particularly on here – sometimes resulting in argument!) and I sincerely believe he has what it takes. His performances (bar yesterday when he was obviously terrible) of late have been strong.
But on Gibson, I couldn’t agree more. Yes, he can shoot, but like you say, he lacks so many of the prerequisite skills to make it as a midfielder at the highest level.
He was utterly awful against Blackpool, and it was baffling that he was selected for the very next game.
I hate critisising United players, particularly those who have come from the academy, but as ManUnitedYouth was saying on twitter, no one is beyond critisism.
It’s evident that he hasn’t got what it takes, and clearly we can’t rely on Scholes for much longer. The midfield needs a major facelift, particularly if I’m wrong about Anderson.
Of course, there are always the training sessions SAF sees that we don’t. The waiting my be for those skills displayed in training to actually be carried over to matches, when it counts…
Really good article and hard to disagree with much of it.
Anderson bothers me in the fact that he struggles away from home and cannot string together a series of successful passes.
I am not sure that either Gibson or Obertan are good enough. The former has been given plenty of chances but just shows few signs of real talent.
Hate to criticise United players but patience is wearing thin after last two performances.
Of these three I will get rid of Anderson in the summer. I had defended him for too ong but he has refused to progress and he obviouly does not practise hard enough. I mean, he is totally useless with his shooting so why not drill yourself everyday on the training ground to improve it? His goalscoring is nothing so why not try and add that to your training regime personally so you can up it? THAT he has not shows he is lazy and thinks he has ENOUGH talent to get by. Sorry Ando lad you do not.
Gibson, I am certain am in the minority but I honestly believe in him. He has the raw materials as his passing is very good when on his game and he does strike a mean ball. He just needs his confidence to grow and honestly we will have a very good player on our hands. Yesterday, the manager dicked them around with his formation and even Scholes struggled as the midfielders had NO out ball.
Obertan will make it. He is very quick, has very good technique and can cross very well. He is a wide man and so honestly, if he is not played wide he is being misused and it is very unfair to expect him to play well out of his best position. He made the equaiser yesterday after being put in his position after being dicked around in a mindless formation by our manager!!
obertan is wanted by the easter island statue 1st eleven
Anderson needs to find consistency; each good performance is followed by a poor one; it’s a lack of mental toughness that’s holding him back.
Obertan is very raw and despite latent talent does not seem to have any idea of how to apply it to get results; SAF will give him time.
Gibson is a worry; apparently he made his name as a creative midfielder in the youth team but he’s being asked to play a defensive game all the time; his range of skills seems limited compared to the others; if ever a player should be loaned out to get a run of games this is the one!
Obertan is still a raw talent because he hasn’t played enough in the first team for fucking ages
When he first signed he had a consistent run that climaxed in him coming on against Chelsea at the Bridge and holding his own
We should have built on that, but instead he was out for fucking ages, and now he looks like the same raw player
Could be too late for him
I’ve defended Gibson before on TrulyReds and will continue to do so. I’m not saying his performances aren’t poor, I just think he needs a run playing in his favoured position without other players who cancel out what he does. Against Blackpool he played with Scholes and Fletcher, leaving him, in the classic midfield trio combo of destroyer/passer/creator to be the creator a la Iniesta. That he is not. He’s a passer, but unfortunately for him we have Carrick and Scholes.
Saying that, I wouldn’t mind seeing him play the front of a midfield three in a 4-3-3/4-5-1. He has an eye for the killer ball, gets about the pitch and, as well all know, has a good shot. Whether he has the technique….hmm, we’ll see. But he was played on the left-wing for a part FFS, and against Birmingham was even drifting as the right-winger of the front three!
I get exactly where you’re coming from, but I think it is too soon to give up on any of the three just yet. Your assessment on all three is, in my opinion, correct, but never write a player off until it’s blatantly obvious that they are a moron or just plain shite.
Anderson I can forgive to an extent because, frustrating though he is, he has at least shown glimpses of potential (though you have to wonder if he’d have given as many chances if not for his huge transfer fee). I reckon it’s telling though that Gibson and Obertan have little over a year left on their current deal, I’d be surprised if either was offered another contract, barring a highly improbable upturn in performance. This has to be the last chance saloon for both of them.
lololoolol – he can stand next to silvestre
anderson still remains an overrated fat cunt – can’t pass, shoot, run, head, tackle or score. a true maggot of a player and at 18m a disgraceful waste of cash.
Gibson is less mobile than the Eiffel Tower – if the game was about shooting with power and accurancy he would be good – but it’s not, he needs to be fucked out
would keep obertan and give him a run – has brilliantly quick feet and can get past players
Obertan, Gibson, Evans and O’Shea will not be in the starting team come next season. Next season’s team will be a force to reckon with, once the new signings come in.
By the way, who is Crawley Town? Are they a bunch of cockroaches? SAF can send out his academy team against these cockroaches.
Which new signings?
Crawley Town are pretty well-known but just as much for their off the field activities.
Its amazing that everytime a player is linked with a transfer move to United, another club comes along and snatches him before SAF can get his money out of his pocket. SAF waits too long to make a move on a player he is interested in bringing to Old Trafford and the next minute another club just puts up the money and the player is gone! At least he has managed to sign one of his targets, at least thats what Steve Bruce is saying that Jordon Henderson will be a United player this summer and terms have been agreed by both sides. Bruce wants to buy Wellbeck but SAF does not want to sell Wellbeck. There is talk about Gibson or Carrick going to Sunderland.
“Steve Bruce is saying that Jordon Henderson will be a United player this summer and terms have been agreed by both sides.”
Has someone mixed up unsubstantiated paper rumours with facts again?
It would appear Herbie has done so, as Bruce has come out OFFICIALLY and stated Henderson is not for sale and is hopeful of being at Sunderland for a few years.
I still firmly believe that Anderson will be an important player for us in the future.So the criticism of his performances have been slightly over the top.
Obertan still needs to be given the benefit of the doubt because to be fair to him,he’s not had a real run in the team to impress.The fact that Fergie also prefers to play Rooney on the wings instead of Obertan doesn’t help his cause either.
The criticism of Gibson however,is justified.
I wouldn’t be remotely bothered if all 3 of them left today. Good piece, Ed
What is a concern is that half the side put out on Saturday were not good enough to take on a League One outfit in their own backyard. Quite frankly Anderson, Gibson and Obertan don’t appear to be stars in the making – certainly not on this evidence. Furthermore, Smalling and Evans are hardly adequate replacements for Ferdinand and Vidic. They will be given more time of course but we can only hope and pray that at least for the difficult fixtures immediately ahead, both Rio and Nemanja are fit.
Coming back to Anderson. I believe he is limited as an attacking midfielder. For one thing he relies far too much on that left foot of his. Where I think he could fit in is in a holding midfield role in front of the back four. He’s strong in the tackle and can bring the ball out of deep positions giving it to someone who is more skilled in distribution. We have sorely missed Hargreaves in this role so perhaps Anderson could be an answer there. Upfront he offers little due to his inability to pass and shoot for goal consitently well. It’s worth a try and in any event I prefer Carrick, when fit, playing a more attacking role.
Ive seen the Fletcher reference several times but it seems to be glossed over. Doesnt that example show why it is impossible to confidently write Gibson off yet? I was saw nothing in Fletcher for years, he just gave the ball away and looked out of his depth. Then it clicked.
To be sure, I always groan when I see Gibson has been picked and he doesnt look good enough. But can anyone point to any significant differences between his situation and Fletcher’s, to demonstrate why he is unlikely to make it?
Anderson may not look like a goal threat and he may have off games but he has shown he has class and has regularly contributed well. He has energy, a good attitude and is always looking to find his team mates in good positions. He deserves more time. Obertan is at an age, and plays in a position, where progress can be slow, but he has shown he has a great deal of skill and I think he deserves more time too.
Gibson is the real question. On the one hand I dont like to question SAF so if he thinks there is something there, I am inclined to be patient also. And yet. I wonder whether Fletcher isnt the exception rather than the rule. I think Gibson would be better off at a club with more modest ambitions. Sunderland might be a good move.
who is this henderson fucker? he sounds shit
the difference massive – you only need to see the way Fletcher runs and his movement to see that Gibson will never have his energy or mobility. Nor can Gibson tackle the way the Fletcher can.
the one thing that Fletcher has during his shit phase was a massive engine and mobility. true Keane complained that he was running around like a headless chicken but Gibson offers non of that – he cannot run hard, not does he harry or shown any ability to control one sector of midfield.
he has a clean shot – but that is all. take out the shots on goal and you have mr. invisible.
lol – agreed
Well, sounds like the usual baying for blood from my beloved united brotherhood. At some point not so in the distant past, people were criticizing SAF for signing a young Ronaldo and was calling for Ronaldo to be sold… until one day, the ugly duckling turned into a beautiful swan… the rest as they say is history. The same was repeated in the case of Fletcher, Ji Sung, Nani, and until the season started, Berbatov… the list continues and the list will go on in the future. Unfortunately, none of us seem to have the patience and wisdom of SAF.
Coming back to the post, I believe that of the 3 players mentioned, Gibson has the physique and power to be a good premiership player. He lacks confidence and needs regular football and knowledge of his exact role in the team to succeed. Anderson frustrates me the most – mostly because of his body language at times and the ease with which he looses possession when not on top of the game. For the Love of my life, I dont see him as a replacement for scholes – maybe he can some how come up with a different type of role within the team if he performs consistently. Obertan, I like what I have seen of him till date. But he needs to improve on his decision making and see him take on defenders more often. Currently something seems to be holding him back at times – maybe it is a confidence thing.
Give them a year or two and all three of them will blossom. Remember, we are talking about really young guys here. Not everyone is a Rooney or Chicharito to hit the ground running with their all action styles. Some may need time to evolve from being an ugly duckling to the beautiful swan of tomorrow.
Have Patience my friends… Patience…
Finally, a voice of reason. How quickly we forget the early days of some of our former stars. Nani is a perfect example. Only a couple of seasons ago, maybe even last season, everyone wanted him gone. Waste of money, never live up to his potential. Now, well…
These guys ae still kids. It’s true, Anderson does not seem to have the attacking midfield mentality that he was signed for, and I can not see him replacing Scholes. He reminds me a bit of Lucus from Liverpool actually (yes that is not a good thing!!) But he is young, and has shown some glimpses. Worth persisting with.
As everyone has said, Obertan has ability. Wingers seem to take a little longer to mature and understand the game. These attributes can be taught (especially under a master like SAF) but naturally ability can not. Worth hanging onto him, if for no other reason than just a gamble.
Gibson is worrying, but the bottom line with him is SAF knows best. He must see something in him, and why not put some work into him when now when we are clear on top and undefeated. If he is no good when the time comes for the scholes and giggs of the team to retire, and he is not up to standard, that’s when we move him on and look to the market.
Enjoy the good times boys, lets not fix something that ain’t broke. SAF is completely in control, have some faith in the great man.
Good piece. He is a bloody funny manager. Provided players don’t rock the boat it takes ages before the boody penny drops. Think Brian McClair when he stopped scoring in the past & O’Shea & G. Neville now.
All three seem to have major problems.
Anderson. Someone needs to look at what he is ingesting. At Southampton he was picking out palyers, 15 yards away, with passes of pin point accuracy but they were wearing the wrong coloured shirt. He has not been helped by not being given a clear enough role. I still think he has the talent but you can’t play someone who can be such an unpredictable liability.
Obertan. Does not seem to have a football brain. He needs to be loved but how can you love someone if he can be completely useless. Make uo your mind SAF.
Gibson. I am amazed that he has his supporters. Apart from having the turning circle of the Titanic & the mobility of a statue & all the other defects Ed pointed out, you could almost forgive him if he spilt blood for the cause. But he really does not seeem to care & he is not fit. How can you justify reeling him off at half time at Blackpool because if Giggs had not replaced him we would have lost & doing the same at Southampton. Like a number before him I can seeing sinking very fast if we sell him.
I think the criticism of both Obertan and Anderson in this thread is somewhat hyperbolic, if not verging on the hysterical.
Obertain lacks awareness because of a lack of gametime at the top level. He does however have excellent close control and fantastic technique. I imagine with more games he could improve, but not through the middle where I think he is largely wasted. He would be much better served playing as a true winger.
Anderson is a player who I believe can still be remarkable for United. He is much more committed than before and still has enough all round nouse to be a good player. I just think he needs to work on becoming more of a goal threat, both in terms of final ball and in terms of his own shooting.
Gibson is a lost cause. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to click in our midfield. Best to move him on, I’m afraid. He just does not contribute and isn’t mobile enough to be at least a “run-abouty” player.
Yeah I’m one of those who’s defended Fletcher (and O’Shea!) for years, but even I have to draw the line at Gibson. Break my heart as an Irishman to say it, but he looks rubbish to me. Doesn’t even start for Ireland.
Obertan and Anderson have certainly showed promise, but I’m getting really bored with promise. Really bored.
Really bored. I see Liverpool are making some good buys, spending money like drunken sailors. 35 milion for Andy Carroll? I see they are also about to snatch up Charlie Adam before SAF can get his hands on him.
you truly are an embarrassment to rant… your complete lack of knowledge about the history, romance and aura of the FA cup, and the achievement these “cockroaches” you so eloquently call makes you the biggest plastic yank ignorant cunt i have ever come across
arrogant knobhead yank pseudo red cunt
Yeah a hell of a lot of romance at Crawley Town. They’ve spent more on players than the whole league above them has, yet they’ve got no fans. The whole thing is unsustainable.
There’s something dodgy going on at this Club.
in fact i’d love to ban him
Word. Every single one of his posts makes me angry/sad.
I don’t get the “knobhead yank”, bit.
he’s a knobhead yank…even if he isn’t a knobhead yank…this is oppossed to being a clued up canadian or….
oh fuck it…cant be arsed he is a cunt
Captain is a MOD?? Why the heck am I not a MOD Ed? Yeah? Yeah?? *asked in my best James Corden voice on League of their Own*.
Cal u need to open ur mouth and keep ur eyes shut tight………
Is that what it took for Captn? Ok, I’ll pass then. Sorry I asked Ed.
Iam not a yank or Canadian and if you can’t take a joke, then so be it. Crawley Town? No disrespect to this team, they have come this far in the FA CUP and much respect to them. Captainhormone, are you a Crawley supporter? You got pretty upset when I called them cockroaches. If you all are United supporters, no need to be disrespecting each others comments. For the record, Iam from Bermuda.
Do you remember Clyde Best and Shaun Goater? Shaun Goater scored a hat-trick for Man City against Man Utd. These are my fellow Bermudians. I had the pleasure of meeting the director of Man Utd. He was in Bermuda on vacation with his wife and was staying at the hotel where I was working. On my day off, I took them around Bermuda and to my house for dinner. If I need to know anything going on at United, I can email or call to find out. We keep in touch and when I come England, I will be his guest at Old Trafford.
Herbie, has this man asked for your bank details?
// Herbie, has this man asked for your bank details? //
Just pissed a little 🙂
that’s the spirit herbie. i’m right behind you(aroused).
LOL… yeah, don’t take no shit Herbie… you tell that captainhormone cunt to go rub salt up his arse.
Herbs, welcome !!
I read that Obertan doesn’t feel he has what it takes to make it at OT according to the Mail (I only read the sport!). Hopefully Gibson will realise that if Obertan – a clearly superior player – can’t cut it, then, well… fuck off!
SAF talks about “value” Kenny reasons if he has £56m in his back pocket for Torres & Babel then he might as well swap them for Carroll & Suarez. The flawed Maestro could & should have said £80m for the Ronaldo (£180k pw) then £50m for Fabregas (£100k pw) & £30m for Tevez (£80m pw) & we would have been stronger rather than much weaker. Forget about “value”.
Do you really think that Tevez would have only cost £30M???
And that he only makes £80k p/w????
Try £47M then about 200k p/w plus a clause that he gets paid the highest wages at the club. All for a guy who scored 5 league goals in the season he left and we’d already spent £20M on for two years.
I’m Man United all the way and I share your concerns and
want the best for the club as all the TRUE United fans do.
I admit some of the players are not up to par but SAF is giving them enough time to prove themselves anf if they don’t make the grade, I’m sure SAF will get rid of them.
Triggs, I only gave Tevez as one possibility. I think at the time that United had him on loan there was a buy out clause of about £30m. At that time he proably would have accepted about £80k pw. Obviously not now, which rather addds to what I said. The point I make is that SAF had a great chance with Glazers to say nothing has changed finance wise & to have strengthened the squad rather than weakening it. I wonder if SAF considered a Rooney/Torres swap in the last few days?
Herbie we are worried that even if it obvious that certain players are not good enough that is no guarantee that he will get rid of them. Not only that he will play them!!!! In very recent times think -O’Shea & Neville & probably Owen.
oh if only t
oh if only that famous triangle could have swallowed you up…the rest of you can suck my balls
when we signed obertran blanc said why are we signing that cunt for hes bollockless and a shitehouse, spot on
Interesting analysis, found via Twitter
Gibson puts a massive strain on our midfield, doesn’t put in enough work defensively and we move the ball better w/out him.
You call that fat slob Cap to the dance floor and calpso his arse, he needs it nowandthen.