Things are starting to look quite different at Old Trafford after what has been one of the most eventful transfer seasons in the recent history of Manchester United. The old faces of United’s past glory years are starting to disappear. With the transfers of Wes Brown and John O’ Shea to Sunderland, Sir Alex has proven that he’ll strongly rely on the rapidly developing Brazilian twins Rafael and Fabio da Silva.
While Brown and O’Shea will be greatly missed, their departures were somewhat inevitable even with United’s deep roster. Over the last couple of years, the da Silva twins have made their case to become the starting fullbacks going forward. Brown and O’ Shea’s playing time will be greatly increased at Sunderland who’ll make a serious bid to finish in the top six in the Premier League.
Since joining in 2008, the da Silva twins have become integral components of United’s defense. Both Rafael and Fabio have been lauded for their physicality, agility and tenacity on the pitch. Their tireless play exudes the energy needed to inspire their teammates to success as they cover the length of the pitch. As The Times put it, they are Brazil’s answer to the Neville twins.
Of the two, Rafael is seen as more aggressive especially when it comes to physically challenging others for the ball. Rafael eventually grew less reckless and became a more formidable, reliable option. Fabio is slightly more reserved than Rafael when it comes to challenges but he still has become a quite solid option on the defense. Fabio may be more of a rational player in terms of less bookings and staying back more often compared to the adventurous Rafael. Both have shown remarkable pace and energy in terms of making darting runs up the field either to serve crosses or make key passes. Fabio and Rafael have each had at least one successful season in terms of adapting to the rigors of Premier league and Champions league football.
In the upcoming season, the Brazilian twins may relieve some of the load off Patrice Evra who is now entering his 30’s. Sir Alex would probably love to rest Evra in some matches in order to save him for the biggest games of the season. Yet, the real question is who will start at right-back? Will the da Silvas be in competition with one another or will they have their playing time equally split? Fans may start to notice differences between the two better than ever before while competing for the starting eleven.
In the future ahead, the 21 year olds look likely to stay at United for a long time. Sir Alex is showing his faith in the transfer market by not signing any other fullbacks. Whether they’ll stay with United for many years is impossible to see especially in today’s transfer market. Speaking on the fears of being separated, Rafael said, “Some day it might happen that we have to play separately.” “We don’t want it to happen, of course. But these things happen in football. We always want to play together but we are prepared for it.” Let’s hope it’s not any time soon.” For United’s sake, let’s hope he’s right.
The future looks bright for Manchester United as the defense could potentially consist of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, and the da Silva twins on the wings. The da Silvas will bring a new attacking flair to Old Trafford which could greatly benefit the team. With Rafael’s fiery style coupled with Fabio’s more calculated play, United could have the perfect combination of fullbacks.