Nenê – a forgotten artefact of Allardyce’s West Ham dynasty

Charles Pulling profiles Nenê, West Ham’s already forgotten Brazilian from the 2014-15 season…

In 2011, workmen expanding a road in eastern China discovered the mummified remains of a woman dating back 700 years. It was, in terms of the quality of the find and its location one of the most stunning Ming-era discoveries in recent times, a perfectly preserved echo of a long fallen dynasty.

Also in 2011, another altogether less lauded dynasty began in east London. The Allardyce-era at West Ham United may not have stretched over centuries, but for many of the Upton Park faithful the all-too-often turgid, grinding performances may have felt something close to a lifetime in length. And so, with the ominous boos reverberating around Upton Park, ‘Big Sam’ was afforded no reward for securing West Ham’s Premier League status for a third season running and the sun came down on the Allardyce dynasty.

Now, with optimism, a new manager, an impending move to a fancy new stadium and Europa League sojourns West Ham seems a happier, more contented place, despite a ball barely being kicked in anger. But what of the relics of the past four years? What do they tell us?

One of the more rarer finds whilst sifting through the wreckage is the name Nenê, a name that stands out in contrast to the more ‘meat and potato’ Allardyce players such as Nolan or Downing. The name is barely a footnote. Understandable considering the man from São Paulo spent little over three months parking his car at the ‘Academy of Football.’ Continue reading

Rafael da Silva—Manchester United’s world-class whippet

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Chris Clarke of Manchester United fan site and podcast Can They Score? profiles the fuzzy ball of energy and enthusiasm who brought a Samba beat to United’s right-back position…

Spotted by Les Kershaw at the 2005 Nike Premier Cup in Hong Kong, the da Silva twins have brought a sense of Brazilian brilliance to United’s defence over the past five years. After signing from Fluminise the “two little whippets” have excelled in the first team since making the big move from Brazil.

Rafael made his league debut against Newcastle United at the start of the 2008-09 season but he really made his first impressions during his friendly debut against Peterborough; bombing up and down the right wing and drawing comparisons with the likes of Cafu and Roberto Carlos.

Playing without fear or hesitation, Rafael da Silva became an immediate fan favourite with his bubbly personality, infectious energy and attacking intent. Continue reading

Fabio da Silva—Manchester United’s Sacrificial Lahm?

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TFN editor Greg Johnson on Fabio Pereira da Silva the right-footed left-back at risk of fading away into his brother’s shadow…

Long before the sight of Marouane Fellaini and his infamous barnet in a Manchester United shirt inspired afro wigs in the stands, the curly mops of the da Silva twins led them to become the club’s first microphone-headed mascots-cum-players.

Having arrived fresh from captaining Brazil in the U-17 World Cup in 2007, Fabio da Silva was initially considered to be the more naturally talented brother; a right-footed, marauding left back who enjoyed terrorising defences and scoring goals when cutting inside onto his stronger foot.

United hadn’t snapped up the next Cafu or Roberto Carlos—that was a lineage for his sibling Rafael to chase—but a more unorthodox prospect half-jokingly referred to as Brazil’s answer to Philipp Lahm in more than one online discussion. Continue reading

Jo – a Brazilian Mercenary at Everton

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George Roberts remember’s Jo’s two loan spells at Everton…

Everton’s previous forays into the world of Brazilian football had been unmemorable. Ask fans about Rodrigo or Anderson da Silva, and you’ll most likely be met with blank expressions. The loan signing of Jô in February 2009 hinted at better prospects, however. Here was a striker with a reputation: Manchester City had paid some £18 million the previous summer to sign him from CSKA Moscow. Jô himself admitted he hadn’t settled well at City and had struggled to adapt to the pace and physicality of the English game.

The early signs were certainly encouraging. Making his debut against Bolton, the striker scored a brace; three more goals followed before the season was out. David Moyes turned down the option of a £10 million permanent move over the summer, but happily took Jô back on loan when he again found himself once again surplus to requirements at City.

However, Jô’s lack of physical presence and shoddy first touch became obvious. If Everton had been a side with a genuine passing game, this may not have been such an issue. Continue reading