There's something not quite right about Rafael da Silva. For some reason, despite his obvious love for Manchester United, the Brazilian full-back's career has never really taken off at Old Trafford.
He has enjoyed strong runs in the team and has impressed at times throughout his career. However, there's always been something missing. He's extremely talented, but he's a frustrating player to watch. You never quite know what you're going to get from him and his attitude often lets him down. He's often a sending off waiting to happen.
Anyway, that's enough about his past. It was only three months ago that I wrote a piece about United's flamboyant Brazilian, insisting that his stupidity was putting his career at the Red Devils at risk. I stand by that.
Struggles under LVG
Three months later and Rafael's struggles at Old Trafford have continued. In truth, there haven't been too many acts of stupidity, but he's certainly not done enough to impress Louis van Gaal and Co.
Injuries, of course, have taken their toll on the 24-year-old, but without question he now faces the most important five months of his career. It's now or never for Rafael under the new regime at Manchester United.
If he fails to perform over the coming months, then he may well go down the same path as his twin brother Fabio. After all, Fabio was once recognised as the better brother.
Onto the next five months, then...what does Rafael need to do to save his Old Trafford career?
Well, staying fit would help. Of course, he can't be blamed for picking up an injury, but he has picked up many throughout his tenure with the Red Devils and there will come a point when the United hierarchy decide they want a stable full-back. At the end of the day, luck is key for any player and Rafael needs a bit of luck over the next few months.
If he can stay fit, then he must start to prove his consistency on the field of play. There's no doubt about it, he's always proved a threat going forward, but he's always been a bit hit and miss on the defensive side of things.That's not ideal for a so called defender.
Can he stop his rash tackles? Can he start to take his experience into games. After all, he's now into his seventh season with the Red Devils. He may well be 24, but he's one of the most experienced United players there is.
He has proven here and there that he is at the required standard for Manchester United. He's talented and hard working, so there's no reason why he can't prove his credentials. It's time, though, to take his game to the next level; a consistent level.
Van Gaal, over time, will install a Manchester United defence that he trusts. Rafael must prove that he is trustworthy or his manager won't think twice about axing him. If the Brazilian fails to perform before the end of the season, then expect the Dutch boss to replace him in the summer.
Manchester United fans: Does Rafael have a long term future at your club? Do you agree or disagree with me? Have your say in the comments section below!
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