Date:Thursday April 16 2009
As I've said, the attacking department wasn't especially great at Porto last night. However, those trusted with the defensive work were faultless and deserve credit - especially Nemanja Vidic and Anderson.
The Serbian, of course, got plenty of praise during United's big run without conceding but since his horrible mistakes against Liverpool he's been somewhat shaky. Not yesterday night. There was none of the uncertainty that was surrounding him in the games of the past few weeks, he was fully and totally confident.
I think he's recovering from the Liverpool disaster and some of the improvement is simply down to the healing effects of time. Obviously, the return of Rio Ferdinand helped - his English colleague was excellent throughout, haven't put a foot wrong.
However, there is a very important factor: the midfield. The Liverpool debacle happened because the midfield offered no protection to the defence: Anderson was running around as a headless chicken and Carrick alone could not keep up with Gerrard, Alonso and Mascherano.
This time Anderson performed his duties with great discipline - and tremendous energy which shows what we miss when Scholes is on the field instead of him or Fletcher or Hargreaves. He broke up Porto's attacks with ease and got in the face of Fernando who wasn't allowed to run the show as he did at Old Trafford.
His passing wasn't quite up to scratch and he faded during the second half, due to tiredness - don't forget, he's just come back from injury. However, Anderson at last night was so much more similar to the Anderson of last season than at any time during this campaign that it gives hope. We might soon see the top-class player who completely dominated Steven Gerrard at Anfield in December 2007.
Date:Thursday April 16 2009
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