Manchester United reserves were beaten emphatically by Aston Villa reserves on Thursday night while United new boy Bebe made his debut finishing out the full 90. Bebe stole most of the headlines due to his high profile summer transfer and has been rumored as cover for the now injured Antonio Valencia. The Portuguese striker/winger who was purchased from third division side Vitória de Guimarães for £7.4m on the recommendation of former United coach Carlos Queiroz was raised in an orphanage and has reportedly had a difficult time settling in England and adjusting to a new way of life.
Initial scouting reports described Bebe as a ‘fast, technically gifted striker, right-footed and strong in the air and 6ft 2in tall’. Although that description sounds like a manager’s dream, Bebe remains totally untested at a high level of competition while his ability to even settle and adapt to a foreign way of life with pockets full of cash may first prove more daunting.
As far as his work on the pitch, early reviews have been somewhat mixed depending on the source. The official Manchester United website clearly defined his performance where he set up on the right side of a forward three as, “plugging away manly”, and a “solid debut”. The Mail Online however described Bebe’s bow as “dire”, and that “a switch to the left didn’t help matters”.
While still other sources praised Bebe’s night positively (Mirror Football -“caught the eye with his pace and spectacular crossing”), the jury remains out on Bebe largely because of his youth and inexperience at this level. While it seems some in the English media wish Bebe to fail, a young man who has overcome the kind of adversity that Bebe has experienced through his 20 years deserves a fair shot and more than just a few weeks to settle.
If there’s quality in the player, Ferguson, reserve squad manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Co will reveal and nurture it during his time in the reserves. United were able to do it with Portuguese players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and more recently Nani who were both turned into sharpened tools from blunt objects with time. Although the aforementioned were already more established players in the Portuguese Liga and weren’t on the same scale as Bebe because of their time playing in the first division, the United coaches and staff nonetheless will work hard with Bebe to protect their investment.
Adversely, one wouldn’t be remiss in questioning Ferguson’s interest in the untested striker simply because he didn’t take the time to watch him play, not to mention that £7.4m is quite the hefty transfer fee as it pertains to this circumstance. Odder occurrences have happened in football, yet Ferguson is the type of manager who prides himself in largely making incredibly smart buys. For now, the detractors and naysayers of Fergie’s Bebe scoop will have to relent to time as the once youth shelter occupant and Homeless World Cup participant is granted the time to settle he so deserves.
For those already calling for Bebe to be the Premier League’s next high profile flop, it could prove unwise to doubt Ferguson’s buy. Although Bebe’s tranistion could take more time than the instantly gratified are prepared to give him, his sharpening could prove he’s one for the future.