Rafael and Fabio da Silva may be twins in birth but their careers at Manchester United have gone on two very different paths.
In the early stages, Fabio was the one who looked like he was going to become a first team regular. Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to start him in the 2011 Champions League final indicated that he felt he was ready for the big time.
Yet, Fabio has never been able to fulfil on his early promise. In the two years since that final, Rafael has cemented his place as United’s first choice right-back whereas Fabio is still looking for an identity at the club.
After a promising loan spell at QPR, many saw Fabio as the first choice understudy to Patrice Evra with the Frenchman on the way out soon yet David Moyes hasn’t really given him the opportunity to impress and it has left fans scratching their heads.
On Twitter, Insidesafstand perfectly summed up the issues surrounding Fabio.
You aren’t given a starting berth in a Champions League final without merit and since then, Fabio has only improved. He did well on the pre-season tour, was fantastic when he started at right-back in United’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace in September and scored a tidy goal when he came on as a late substitute in the 4-0 win over Norwich.
Yet, Moyes has decided to play Alexander Buttner ahead of him more than not including United’s game against Shakhtar Donetsk this week. I admire Buttner’s work ethic and attacking capabilities but as a defender, he makes me feel how Jonny Evans did a few seasons ago – liable to make a mistake at any time. He isn’t good enough to be a United regular.
The last time United had a pair of brothers marshalling the full back spots it worked out quite nicely and I wanted to see the same thing happen with the Da Silva’s. Rafael’s progression has gone to show that the mentality is there but it is impossible for Fabio to fulfil with the Under-21s.
It looks like Moyes has made his mind up with Fabio in much the same fashion as he has with Anderson. Both have been frozen out and are potentially on the way out of the club but I don’t think Fabio should leave.
Also, you have to look at the knock-on effect it may have on Rafael. He may have thrived in his absence when he was at QPR but that was safe in the knowledge it was only a temporary absence from his twin. Fabio could well take a part of Rafael with him if he left.
Fabio waved to the Stretford End when he scored his goal against Norwich – was that his wave goodbye on his time as a United player? I hope not.