Anderson may not have been a resounding success while at Manchester United, but the Brazilian has revealed just how Sir Alex Ferguson used him as a secret weapon against Arsenal.
Just over 10 years ago, a 19-year-old from Porto Alegre rocked up at Manchester United, ready to take the Premier League by storm.
United fans were buzzing with excitement about the teenaged Brazilian, who was signed by Ferguson from Porto. But his career never really took off at United. He left the club in 2015 – admittedly with four Premier League titles, a Champions League winners medal and two League Cups – as something of a cult hero, rather than a club legend.
The central midfielder only once played more than 20 times in a Premier League season, with Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes and occasionally Ryan Giggs being preferred in the middle. Another player competing for a place in United’s midfield was another cult icon: Park Ji-sung.
The South Korean was loved at Old Trafford for his industrious approach and propensity to play well in big games.
Anderson claims that Fergie would throw Anderson and Park into the mix when they played against rivals Arsenal. He recalls the 2011 8-2 thrashing of Arsenal with relish.
He was quoted by ESPN as saying:
“I started to play every game. Fergie would always pick me against Arsenal because I always did well against them. Park Ji-sung always played against Arsenal too. Ji always killed Arsenal. Ronny (Cristiano Ronaldo) always did. Three passes and we were away and attacking. Goal.
“Our mentality against Arsenal was “let’s kill Arsenal.” We beat them 8-2 at home [in 2011]. I don’t think I saw one of our players make a mistake that day. After we’d scored six, I started to take the p— with the ball. The manager had to take me off!”
Now 29, Anderson is currently playing for Brazilian side Cortiba, on loan from Internacional, who find themselves 17th in the country’s Campeonato Paranaense.