Manchester United flop Nani can work his way back into the favour of the Old Trafford crowd by having a great World Cup, according to former United star Clayton Blackmore.
The 49-year-old, who appeared 186 times in the league for the Red Devils between 1982 and 1994 told the official club website that he believed Nani had the potential to be one of the stars of the tournament, despite the fact that he has been ostracised for his form in the Premier League of late. The 27-year-old struggled to make an impact under David Moyes last term, and at one point it was assumed he would be allowed to leave the club during the January transfer window, only for an injury to rule that scenario out.
But whilst many United fans are perhaps backing new boss Louis van Gaal to include him in his inevitable clear-out sale following the World Cup, Blackmore believes that Brazil 2014 could reignite the sort of support from the stands that Nani thrives on.
“As outsiders, from the European teams, I'd go for Portugal. When you've got the best player in the world, you must have half a chance. They have got other good players and I expect Nani to play well,” the former midfielder said.
"He is one player who has not had many games last season and struggled at times to convince the crowd. But, as I'm sure the fans will realise, if he has a good World Cup, they have to get behind him when he returns.
"Getting on his back doesn't help him. I've seen him in training and he is frightening. Ronaldo is one player you can give stick to and it winds him up and makes him work harder. I think Nani needs to know the fans and manager are behind him to perform as we all know he can do."
It remains to be seen truly whether or not the Portuguese winger can work his way into Van Gaal’s favour with his performances in the coming weeks, but a good showing certainly won’t do him any harm. Thought United have been linked with a multitude of central midfielders, central defenders and even the odd forward since the end of last season, there hasn’t been too much speculation prompting talk that they will be in the market for a wide-man.
As such Nani could well be given the opportunity to ensure that his new club manager doesn’t take the same view on him that his predecessor did, and he’ll likely see the World Cup as the perfect stage to do just that. Though he has remained a bit-part player at United for some time now, the former Lisbon star is an integral part of Portugal’s national setup, and is usually relied upon to shoulder a large portion of the responsibility when Ronaldo isn’t available.
Having already played 75 times for his national team, scoring 14 goals, the 27-year-old is well experienced when it comes to international fixtures, and the fact that he will more than likely be routine starter for boss Paulo Bento plays into his favour in terms of the opportunities he will get to impress.
In the past Nani has been criticised for doing too much when on the ball and failing to impress upon important games when needed. He will most certainly have to guard against either of these flaws if he harbours any hopes of convincing Van Gaal that he deserves an Old Trafford future, that’s for sure.
Do you think Nani could remain at United past this summer if he has a good World Cup? Let us know in the comments section below.