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Has time run out for Anderson?

Manchester United midfielder Anderson was reportedly pulled over at 4am last Friday near his hometown of Porto Alegre, and fined £329 after refusing a breath test from police. Anderson had been out celebrating his 24th birthday, and his bodyguard had to drive him home from the scene following his refusal. With chances already running out for the Brazilian, is this latest behavior the final nail in the coffin for his United career?

The current season started brilliantly for Anderson, forming an outstanding partnership with Tom Cleverley in the United midfield. The team was playing an exciting, free-flowing, attacking brand of football at the dawn of this new season, scoring goals freely against the likes of Tottenham, Bolton and, of course, Arsenal. After years of complaints, the United midfield was reason for excitement with two young attacking players at the center of the action.

The fairytale start to the reason began derail when Cleverley was struck down by Kevin Davies. With the loss of his midfield partner, Anderson’s form began to dip. Then it plummeted, culminating in a dismal display against Otelul Galati in early November. Anderson then went missing with an injury until making a surprising early return in the 3-2 loss against Blackburn Rovers on New Years Eve. He would make just a few more appearances in 2012 before being ruled out for the remainder of the season with injury.

Of course, the recurring theme during his time at Old Trafford is injuries. Anderson was excellent in his first season at the club, and quite a few supporters were surprised by how heavily he was involved during that 2007-08 campaign. He made 38 appearances in all competitions, including a substitute appearance in the Champions League final against Chelsea when he scored in the penalty shootout. All in all, he contributed a fair amount that debut season as United won the Premier League and Champions League.

Anderson struggled to repeat his fine form the following season, as he succumbed to the dreaded sophomore slump. He made another 38 appearance that season, but was nowhere near as impressive as the previous season. Nevertheless, Anderson started in the 2009 Champions League final as Barcelona ran riot in the midfield. His involvement in that game ended at halftime when he was replaced by Carlos Tevez. Since then, there have only been glimpses of brilliance from the Brazilian.

The injury problem became a growing concern the following season. Anderson would have a good run of form when he could demonstrate his talent, only to be struck down by injury and struggle to perform upon his return. This has become the never-ending cycle for Anderson’s time at Old Trafford.

There are also the off-the-pitch problems which have marred his United career. An unauthorized trip back home to Brazil in January 2010 reportedly earned him a £80,000 fine from Sir Alex Ferguson. Soon after he ruptured his cruciate ligament and was ruled out for the remainder of the 2009-10 season. While still recovering from that injury, Anderson was involved in a serious car accident in Portugal at 7am on 31 July 2010, after spending the evening at a nightclub. Having been knocked unconscious, he had to be pulled from the car before it exploded.

Nothing more ever came from the accident, although concerns should still be raised about a professional athlete being out until 7am while recovering from a serious injury. Despite this incident, Anderson returned to United to continue his rehab, and a good run of form in late 2010 earned him a new four-and-a-half year deal from the club. This latest bout of irresponsibility may prove costly, however. A history of off-the-pitch problems paired with faltering form on the pitch and a less than ideal injury record could be enough for Sir Alex Ferguson to show him the Old Trafford exit.

After coming to the club with such promise, Anderson could now leave United with that promise largely unfulfilled. You never want to see a player fail at United, but sometimes it is best to admit when it just is not working. That seems to be the case for Anderson now, although most United supporters would probably like to be proved wrong in that respect. The press is now linking Anderson with a summer transfer away from Old Trafford, possibly as part of the reported deal for Nicolás Gaitán from Benfica.

Although anything can happen, things don’t look promising for Anderson with Manchester United. Whether that’s due to his indiscretions off the pitch, his inconsistent form on it or a combination of both is anybody’s guess. Either way, time seems to have run out.

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