Nani backs Anderson to flourish

Manchester United winger Nani believes team-mate Anderson can follow his lead by finally flourishing at Old Trafford.

The duo joined United as youngsters just over three years ago from Portugal, where Nani played for Sporting Lisbon and Anderson was a star at Porto.

At the time, Anderson was the more developed and revered of the pair, having blossomed in the Portuguese Liga to become Porto’s chief playmaker.

However, both have largely flattered to deceive since coming to England and struggled to develop to the extent many expected. Nani, though, produced some consistent form midway through last season and has carried that on in the current campaign.

Now he is backing Anderson to do the same after the Brazilian finally overcame a bad knee injury.

"Everyone knows the quality that Anderson has," he told ahead of Saturday’s evening clash with Tottenham in the Premier League.

"He was unlucky with the knee injury that he suffered because he was just starting to play well and show us what we know he can do.

"We all know here that he is an amazing player.

"He is strong, he is a very clever player too and he can be a very important player in this team.

"He is a strong character too, which you need at this club. He’s not scared of anything. He’ll take the ball in any situation and he can be a top player for Manchester United."

Another emerging star at Old Trafford, central defender Chris Smalling, is loving life with United after a surprise move from Fulham in the summer.

"It’s been great so far," he said. "I’ve been made to feel very welcome by everybody which has really helped.

"Going on tour in the summer was key in terms of the settling in process as I got to know a lot of the lads well. It’s a real family club with a great atmosphere."

Smalling, who was playing non-league football two years ago and preparing for life at university, added: "I always hoped I’d get a chance to prove myself at the top level because I believed I could do it, but making your way up the football ladder is tough and not everyone can make it.

"When I went for my trial at Fulham I’d already applied to Loughborough University to study business management with economics.

"I’d have been happy to go to uni, but obviously it was my dream to play football. Joining United was a real shock but a great surprise."