The extracts on this page are taken from selected national newspapers. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United.
The Manchester Evening News' Stuart Mathieson writes...
Rafa’s rise from being impetuous ...to simply imperious
Rafael took a significant step forward in his United career at the start of the season when he was officially handed the Reds’ No.2 shirt. It hadn’t been assigned to anybody since Gary Neville retired as United’s veteran right-back in February 2011. The jersey had been Neville’s exclusive property since 1996. The role he dominated was becoming a problem position in the injury-blighted latter stages of his career and after he quit. In January 2008, while Neville was sidelined for virtually a season with ankle ligament damage, Sir Alex Ferguson brought over Rafael and his twin brother, Fabio, from Brazil to Manchester, having agreed a deal with Fluminense 12 months previous. The then 17-year-old Rafael was earmarked to take over from Neville eventually. Following in the England internationals footsteps has been a treacherous path for the South American. But Rafael has hit back for the Reds. Armed with a new four-year Old Trafford contract signed in July – and that No.2 shirt – he has moved on to a steadier level. And Rafael’s fast improving graph from impulsive to imperious has also caught the eye of United’s 1999 Treble-winning full-back Denis Irwin. “There has never been a question about Rafael’s talent,” Irwin told M.E.N. Sport. “He was brave, aggressive and his attacking qualities were very good. He had all the attributes. His problem was that as a young player he was impetuous and the timing of his tackles got him into trouble and caused problems. He has had to learn to be a lot more patient with his defending. You learn the most when you make mistakes and he has made a couple of big ones on big occasions. But he’ll never forget them. When you make those kind of mistakes it clicks with you and you become wiser."