Date: 26th April 2009 at 3:39pm
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Gary Neville’s decline is not unexpected: in his age, after so many injuries it’s no surprise that he’s now a shadow of a player he once was. However, he’s not the worst Manchester United player of the season: that title belongs to a certain Luis Almeida da Cunha, commonly known as Nani.

His debut campaign was really good: scored important goals, terrorised defenders and looked good enough to soon claim a regular place in the side. I mean, he was brought on to replace Rooney in the Champions League final!

Such a scenario is quite unimaginable now. The last two league games he started ended in terrible humiliation for the young Portuguese winger: against Aston Villa he was hauled off with 30 minutes to go, making way for a 17-year-old who never played in the first team before. Yesterday, against Spurs, he was replaced after an ineffectual 45 minutes and Tevez came on who, quite unexpectedly, totally changed the game.

Nothing Nani tries this season seems to come off, apart from two brilliant goals against Derby in the League Cup and in the FA Cup. His tricks don’t work, he dribbles down blind alleys, his movement off the ball is really poor and his crosses usually go astray. Still, he’s not giving up and wants to stay here.

“It is very difficult at a club like Manchester United because there are so many good players here,” he said.

“It is hard when you are not playing but I am happy here and I have confidence that I can be a part of everything.

“The manager has not said anything to me but I want to stay. I don’t want to leave and nothing has been said about leaving.”

Many criticise his attitude as well which is unfair I think, and mainly happens because of his compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo. Nani does track back, does try to harass the fullbacks and everything but even that requires a certain intelligence which he doesn’t seem to possess… his anticipation is mostly terrible, that’s why he always seems to be in the wrong place.

I think that based on his first season, he deserves another year. It might not be, as I cruelly put it above, for lack of intelligence that he performs so badly: it could simply be a second season syndrome. He proved last season that he’s got the talent to succeed at Old Trafford and we’ll never forget how he destroyed Arsenal’s full-backs in the FA Cup. He hasn’t become a bad footballer during the summer so we should give him another year to prove himself.

But it looks he must prove himself soon because it’s clear that his time is running out…