When Bébé was signed from Vitória de Guimarães in 2010 for a fee of £7.4 million, Manchester United fans did not have an inkling on who he was, where he played, and what he could offer. It was not exactly an orthodox signing by Sir Alex Ferguson (signing an unknown 2o-year-old was somewhat peculiar).
Bébé made his debut for United against Scunthorpe, in the Carling Cup, coming on for Park Ji-Sung, but did not have an impact. Subsequently, he replaced Anderson against Sunderland in the Premier League, around the 80th minute, but had very little time to make a fine impression.
It was Bébé’s first proper test – against Wolves on 6 November 2010 – which really ruined his chances of winning the fans over. Unexpectedly, he came on for the injured Owen Hargreaves early on, but the events that followed meant that no mercy was to be shown towards him from the United fans. Whilst he did show some good movement and desire to make things happen, his crossing was (simply put) erratic. There were several opportunities to whip a decent ball into the box, but the nerves and the occasion got the better of the youngster.
Any chance of the Portuguese man featuring in 2011 for Manchester United was slashed to pieces, after a lackluster display against Crawley Town. There was no more patience left in Sir Alex Ferguson – he had witnessed enough mediocrity.
In the summer of 2011, Bébé was offered a lifeline to resurrect his career by experiencing a loan move to Besiktas. His season was ended prematurely, when he injured his cruciate ligament, but he did manage to play one more game for Besiktas as a substitute. His season was finally ended for the wrong reasons – he was isolated from the rest of the squad because he broke the team curfew; signs of a player under severe pressure.
Currently, Bébé finds himself back in the same position a year ago. In his first game with United in pre-season, he scored a late strike against an energetic Ajax Cape Town. In his second game in pre-season, he showed good determination to get past the Shanghai Shenhua right back and assist Shinji Kagawa for his first Manchester United goal.
After all the fuss, let us not forget that it is justified, Bébé has hit back at the critics and is experiencing a very good pre-season with the first team. There have been signals of intent, desire, and determination to strive towards becoming an integral figure for United. Whilst that may seem a long way away from occurring, he has made progress, and credit should be awarded.
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