Anderson admits to frustrations at Manchester United

The Brazilian has endured a stop start career at Old Trafford

Anderson accepts it has been two steps forward and three back for too much of his Manchester United career.

The midfielder made only his 12th start of the season in United's 2-1 FA Cup triumph over Reading at Old Trafford last night.

This time it has been niggling injuries that have caused his frustrations, not the big ones that have blighted Anderson's six seasons at the club.

With the potential for a starting slot against Real Madrid up for grabs in a fortnight unless Phil Jones recovers from the ankle injury that forced him off last night, Anderson can now only hope to stay fit.

"When I take two steps forward I seem to take three back," he said.

"It is sad but I have to do my job. I need to play games and not to have any injuries."

For virtually three seasons now it has been claimed United are short of midfield firepower.

Anderson has all the attributes to do the job required, but has never stayed fit long enough to do himself justice at the level Sir Alex Ferguson requires.

"I have had some problems. But when I don't have these problems I know my quality," he said. "I know I can play."

The former Porto man was at his bustling best last night, helping drive United towards a victory that keeps their treble quest on track in addition to booking a sixth round meeting with either Chelsea or Middlesbrough.

And it was an even more peripheral member of the Red Devils squad who was the catalyst.

Nani arrived at virtually the same time as Anderson, and spent two years operating in the vast shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo before starting to flourish once his fellow countryman had left for Real Madrid.

This season though, the winger's chances have been strictly limited.

Amid much-publicised contract wrangling, the pending arrival of Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace and interest from Zenit St Petersburg, it has been widely assumed Nani's time at Old Trafford was drawing to a close.

However, it was his contribution that tipped the balance in his side's favour against a plucky Reading outfit, scoring the first and setting up a second for Javier Hernandez to confirm that last eight berth.

"Everyone knows Nani's quality," said Anderson.

"He is one of the good players in a squad full of them.

"The boss can change it all the time. That is the way it should be at Manchester United."

The setback came from Jones' injury.

Although Ferguson has already ruled the England international out of Saturday's trip to QPR, unless it proved serious enough to give the former Blackburn man no chance of being involved, Ferguson could well choose to offer vague assessments of Jones' likely recovery time, leaving Jose Mourinho guessing about his availability for Champions League duty on March 5.

If Jones does not make it, Ferguson would be left with a significant gap in his planning given there are no obvious alternatives in midfield who offer such a heavy defensive emphasis and United's form this season suggests they will require reinforcements in that area.

Anderson can only hope to keep himself in Ferguson's plans, although he accepts it is not easy when he misses so many games.

"It is difficult," he said.

"Some players haven't played for two or three weeks and it is hard.

"But this is Manchester United. All the players want to play, me and others."

PA

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