At the equivalent stage last season, Nani was playing a crucial role in United’s march to Premier League and Champions League success.
The livewire Portuguese winger played an important part in seeing off Lyon, Roma and Barcelona in the knockout stages of 2007/08’s European Cup campaign, and although he received his marching orders in United’s final home match of the season – a 4-1 romp against West Ham – he headed for Euro 2008 having impressed many eminent observers in his first full season in English football.
Former United winger Gordon Hill was among them. Hill is a man who knows his wide men, spending three seasons getting chalk on his boots at Old Trafford, scoring more than 50 goals and helping the Reds to 1977 FA Cup final victory against Liverpool. Now living in Dallas, Hill sees much of the old-fashioned winger in Nani, but believes that the 22-year-old needs to become a more reliable source of creativity if he is going to build upon his impressive first campaign.
“When you get a good winger, he’s worth his weight in gold,” Hill told United Review. “Nani has fantastic ability – he has pace and can score spectacular goals. But what he’s lacking at the moment is that consistency to torment full-backs week-in, week-out.”