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Friday, February 01, 2008

Manucho's displays in the African Cup of Nations show that he can add to the United front line

When Manchester United signed Manucho, few football fans (this writer included) had heard of him. However, since the signing, his recent displays for Angola have made people take note and suggest that Manucho is a player who could really add depth and variation to the United front line next season.

Carlos Queiroz has his detractors amongst the United faithful, but few can deny that he has the links, contacts and understanding in world football that not many can parallel. It was Queiroz who first brought Manucho to the attention of Alex Ferguson following the strikers impressive goal scoring record for Petro Athletico in Angola. Manucho did enough in a three week trial to persuade United to offer him a three year contract.

From what I have seen of Manucho in the African Cup of Nations, where he has scored three goals in two games, is a style which neither Tevez nor Rooney can bring to the team - classic goal poaching - or, as Arsene Wenger would say, "a fox in the box". Manucho is clearly excellent in the air and will thrive on good crosses, but he also has the single mindedness of all great poachers to score the tap-ins. That is the reason why, although I was obviously impressed by his headed goals against South Africa and Senegal, I was equally impressed with his scrambled poked goal from two yards against Senegal.

The only other forward at United who is a classic striker in the above mould is Louis Saha. Saha's talent cannot be denied, but his seemingly constant low morale and lamentable injury record means that he simply cannot be relied upon by United to plug in the gaps when necessary and be the "plan B" when things are either not going well or players need to be rotated.

A loan spell in Greece with Panathanaikos will stand Manucho in good stead to become an important first team player next season for United.

Manucho had a quiet game yesterday against Tunisia in what effectively became a dead rubber but I am looking forward to seeing more of Manucho against Egypt in the quarter finals and indeed Flavio who also looks to be a very decent player for Angola.

On the ACN generally, I have been really excited by the level of skill and quality of goals that the group phase has had to offer. Egypt, Ghana and Cameroon have clearly impressed and I was delighted to see Eto'o become the leading scorer in ACN history in front of the legendary Roger Miller against Sudan.

But what has most impressed me mosy has been the great level of punditry and analysis that both the BBC and Eurosport media teams have offered throughout. We have been given proper tactical and passionate analysis - I particularly like Mark Bright and also the shaven headed journalist on the Eurosport couch (does anyone know his name?) - not the usual drivel of "banter" offered to us by Messrs, Lineker, "Lawro", Shearer et al on the Match of the Day couch.


Blogger T said...

Great article Abdul.

Not been able to catch the tournament - but it seems like I have missed out on some good action and new players to keep an eye on like Manucho. The Angolan sounds like another great Queiroz-inspired signing for Man Utd - my brother has also said he looks impressive.

2/01/2008 5:32 pm

Blogger Skipper said...

I will look out for this guy.

2/01/2008 9:18 pm


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