Rafael – Manchester United’s new #2

by Sam Peoples

Sunday 16 January 2011. Rafael is sent off against Tottenham Hotspur for his second bookable offence.

Monday 17 January 2011. Rafael is charged with improper conduct after shouting at Mike Dean following the red card incident against Tottenham Hotspur.

Sunday 23 September 2012. Rafael nets a sublime equaliser and puts in a man of the match performance at Anfield in a highly charged, emotional match against Liverpool.

What a transformation it has been for our Brazilian full back Rafael over the past two seasons. The once irresponsible and naive boy has been replaced by a remarkably mature, reliable man who is still only the tender age of 22.

Yesterday’s fixture against Liverpool would of been a risky game to play the Rafael of old in but not anymore. He has curbed his youthful exuberance and moulded himself into a rather good defender.

So far in the Premier League this season, Rafael has attempted (29) and completed (15) more tackles than any other defender and has already netted two goals this season, his tally for all of the 2011/12 campaign.

 

With his twin brother Fabio going out on loan to QPR, I think he has had a great weight lifted off his shoulders. Fabio only managed 263 minutes on the pitch last year because his chances were limited. He hadn’t progressed as quickly as Rafael and it was obvious he needed to get some first team action to improve.

Whether he chose to admit it or not, it was obvious that Rafael felt guilty that his brother was left on the bench whilst he enjoyed first team action and his current form suggests that weight is now removed.

His working partnership with Valencia is improving each time they play and his overlapping runs is helping bring a new dimension to our attacks. As Gary Neville aptly put it after the Liverpool game, it has been a long time since a Manchester United #2 scored such a peach of a goal.

 

Ever since Rafel squared up to Carlos Tevez, Rafael has been held fondly in the hearts of fans. He is a fiery, passionate Brazilian that obviously loves playing football and more importantly, playing for Manchester United. Now that he has learned the importance of discipline, he is fast becoming one of the first names on the team sheet.

The only way is up for Rafael. Injuries to Chris Smalling and Phil Jones gave Rafael a chance to stamp his authority on the right back spot and he has taken it firmly with both hands. His height may come into question in fixtures against brawly opposition but on the whole, if his early season form is anything to go by, this season is set to be a fine one for the Brazilian.

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