When signing for Manchester United in 2008 alongside his brother Rafael, Fabio da Silva was widely regarded as the more talented of the Brazilian twins. After all, he had captained his country at different age groups including the U-17 team at the World Cup where he was the joint top scorer for his country despite playing as a defender.
Fast forward a few years later and Fabio is struggling to establish himself in the United team, his brother having long settled into the team and arguably nailed down a spot for himself in the starting eleven. The reversal of fortunes leaves you wondering whether this was just another instance of wrongful judgment by pundits or whether there is a deeper cause to Fabio’s stagnation.
Over the course of his time in England, the former Fluminense prodigy has suffered a plethora of injuries, his shoulder bearing the brunt of such malaise. Much like his brother, Fabio has proved to be a very fragile player, rarely completing the full ninety minutes on his equally rare starts due to injuries and knocks. To say this has been a frustrating feature of his United career would be a gross understatement. Given his immense potential, it’s amazing to think how far Fabio would have progressed in his United career had he stayed injury free.
The consistent and seemingly indefatigable nature of Patrice Evra’s play has also put paid to the young pretender’s claim to the throne. Evra has been a permanent feature of that defence to the extent that he was given the armband at Rio Ferdinand’s expense. The combination of these two factors has seen Fabio limited to just 36 starts in his United career to date.
However, there is a third reason (though not as obvious as the first two) that can provide a clue as to why the more talented of United’s twin dynamos has had a difficult time finding his feet in England. For the better part of the 2008/09 season, Fabio featured prominently for United’s reserves. It’s during this time that another feature of his game, albeit a less heralded one began to emerge. For the most part of that reserves campaign, Fabio da Silva played predominantly on the left side of midfield. His stint as a winger showcased his versatility but more importantly, his immense attacking abilities usually associated with Brazilian fullbacks. Able to use his right foot as well as his left, the dimunitive Brazilian tore apart fullbacks with his repertoire of skills and explosive dribbling bursts with the ball. He proved a key outlet for United’s stiffs.
The increased attacking responsibilities sans the need to defend gave an interesting alternative to Fabio the fullback. The shackles were off and rather inevitably, the goals followed. Fabio scored an incredible hatrick against Rochdale in the Lancashire Senior cup.
Back to Spring 2012 and Fabio is facing an uphill battle to establish his place in the United side. His lack of action this term has led to Sir Alex deciding that the player’s development would be served better with action elsewhere.
“With Evra such a consistent performer over the last five years, it doesn’t matter who would have been second choice, it would have been difficult for them and that is the situation with Fabio,” said Sir Alex. “It has been difficult for him.”
“We will put him out on loan, possibly to Portugal next season; I know there has been a bit of interest.
If the loan proves to be half as beneficial as Welbeck’s or Cleverley’s loan spell, we will have one hell of a player in our ranks, a fact Fergie recognizes.
“Fabio’s brother has improved by getting consistent games for us. So I think a year out at a good level playing every week will make Fabio a real top player for us.”
While a full season with game time would do his career a world of good, it is the opportunity to prove himself in a number of positions that will ultimately be the making of Fabio.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsJaLtzwgGs (Fabio hatrick against Rochdale)
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