Enough has been said about Saturday’s performance against Crawley in the FA Cup. There has been a million miles worth of column inches dedicated to that very issue so I won’t be carrying it on. What I do want to talk about is the criticism that has been aimed at certain players, specifically at Bebe. If there has ever been a player who has been the victim of a ridiculous price tag, it’s Bebe. Let me explain.
Tiago Manuel Dias Correia was born on 12th July 1990, making him 20 years old. He was given the nickname Bebe (which means baby) by his older brother when they were kids. Despite popular belief, he didn’t play in the Homeless World Cup, but he was living in a shelter until the summer of 2009 when he signed for his first professional club, Estrela da Amadora, in the Portuguese Third Division. He then moved to Vitoria de Guimaraes in the summer of 2010 before being signed by Man United and Sir Alex Ferguson for 9 million Euros just five weeks after signing for Vitoria.
This kid has played little over 18 months of professional football in his entire career. He didn’t play at a club when he was younger, so he hasn’t been fortunate enough to have the football schooling that 99% of professional footballers have had. This means that he will be lacking some major fundamentals when it comes to positioning, timing, how to truly play in a position. He has got to where he is today through pure talent. He has also represented his country at under-19 and under-21 level, scoring for the under-21’s in his second game for them.
Forget for a minute that Bebe cost us £7m+. Imagine that he had signed for us for £50k. Fergie taking a plucky gamble at this former homeless kid who has only played 18 months of professional football. Would he have been given more time, with more people sympathetic to his story, then he is currently getting? Maybe. So maybe his performances haven’t been brilliant so far. He must be doing something right in training for Fergie to put him in these games. Lets for a minute look at Manucho, another unknown signing. He made one solitary appearance for United, soon being banished to Hull City on loan then shepherded out of the club to Real Valladolid. He wasn’t thrown into countless games by Fergie to somehow justify his transfer fee, he was shite and Fergie knew it. In retrospect, Fergie and the coaching staff must see something in Bebe to keep giving him the vital experience he needs in these games.
If United would have hammered Crawley 6-0, if Gabriel Obertan and Anderson weren’t so drastically poor, if we hadn’t been under-performing in practically every department, Bebe would probably gotten away with a ‘he’s not quite ready yet’ comment and moved on to the next game. The fact is that the majority of journalists on Twitter took absolutely no time to condemn him in a ‘we were right and you were wrong’ attitude due to the fact United fans stood behind him we first signed him. We were willing to give him time then, so why not now? Could it be that we have been staggeringly inconsistent this season and United fans are desperate for the flair player to give us a spark? Probably.
I’m not trying to say that Fergie is perfect and never gets it wrong. I know that for every Ryan Giggs, there was a Luke Chadwick. For every Roy Keane there was a Liam Miller and for every Javier Hernandez there is a Dong Fangzhou. What I can’t understand is why United fans are writing this guy off after less than six months. These are the same fans that gave Gibson four years. The same fans who stuck by Juan Veron, despite the fact he played nearly every game looking like he was confused by our formation. I think with time and patience, Bebe could turn out to be a very good player. Training with the likes of Berbatov, Rooney and such, day in day out, week after week, this can only be good for the lad. Is he the finished article at the moment? nowhere near. Is he looking like a bigger flop than David Bellion? nearly. Has he got the talent to improve, if given the time? almost certainly.