In May 2013, shortly after Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson had stunned the world of football by announcing his retirement, the Guardian published a list of his 11 worst signings. How Anderson missed the cut was, quite frankly, astonishing.
But while astonishing, it was perhaps unsurprising for the Red Devils’ faithful, who are used to witnessing their Brazilian midfielder somehow avoid detection by slipping under the radar. So many transfer windows have passed since he first arrived from FC Porto in 2007, but unfathomably he still remains on United’s pay roll.
Currently earning an obscene £60,000-a-week for doing naff all, Anderson has effectively stolen a living for a good few years now. It’s not entirely his fault, though. It’s patently clear that Ferguson was wrong to award the South American with a new four-and-a-half-year deal in December 2010 and now the club can’t sell him for love nor money.
United to cancel Anderson's contract
United are now so desperate to offload Anderson that they’re prepared to pay him £1.4 million to cancel his contract a mere six months before it expires. The former Brazil international, who was once dubbed an even more promising talent than Wayne Rooney, has almost certainly played his final match for the Red Devils.
This will come as a major relief to the Manchester United supporters, who kept faith in Anderson for much longer than was necessary before eventually conceding defeat a couple of years ago. When he arrived from Porto, complete with his reputation as one of European football’s most talented youngsters, there was a real buzz of excitement surrounding this complicated Brazilian - so what on earth went wrong?
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Ferguson to blame
First and foremost Ferguson must accept a large chunk of the blame. The Scot agreed to pay £26 million for a player he simply didn’t know how to use - not for the first time in his long career as Manchester United manager. Juan Sebastian Veron suffered a similar downfall at Old Trafford because Fergie couldn’t play him in his best position.
Those back in Brazil were staggered - and bemused - to see Ferguson use Anderson, who had flourished in an attacking midfield role with Gremio and Porto, as a holding midfielder.
In fairness to Anderson, there were occasions where he looked rather well-suited to that role. But it wasn’t his natural game - much in the same way it wasn’t Alan Smith’s natural game to play in defensive midfield. He’d spent his entire career up to then playing as a striker.
Confidence and fitness issues
With every below-par performance, Anderson’s confidence took a nosedive. Then came the snubs from the Brazilian national team. And then, of course, there were the injuries.
Anderson has been the butt of cheap jokes about his weight for years now - and it’s clear that he has fitness issues. But, again, it’s the responsibility of the coaching staff of Manchester United to ensure that all of their players are match fit and ready to earn their money out on the pitch.
Manchester United have failed Anderson just as much - and if not more - than Anderson has failed Manchester United.
Worst ever signing?
But for the money paid out, and the fact they’ve stuck by him for so long now, Anderson must surely go down as - pound-for-pound - one of the worst signings in the Red Devils’ 136-year history and certainly Ferguson’s most inexplicable purchase.
Although unlike £7.4 million Bebe, who runs his ex-teammate pretty close, Anderson at least leaves Manchester United fans with one fond memory: that superbly converted spot-kick in the 2008 Champions League final penalty shoot-out in Moscow.