Manchester United full-back Rafael proving his worth says Alex Ferguson

Brazilian enjoying impressive season

Manchester United full-back Rafael is starting to pay a rich dividend on Sir Alex Ferguson's investment.

Rafael arrived at Old Trafford with twin brother Fabio as an 18-year-old in 2008, having been spotted in Hong Kong three years by then academy director Les Kershaw playing in a youth tournament with Brazilian outfit Fluminense.

He made such progress in that first season that Sir Alex Ferguson named him on the bench for the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona in Rome.

Since then though, Rafael has struggled to match those early days.

A red card in a European tie with Bayern Munich that seemed to be won and was eventually lost highlighted his impetuosity and when United reached the final again a year later, it was Fabio who got the starting berth.

Slowly though, Rafael has rebuilt his reputation and started to correct the faults in his game.

He emerged a better player for his Olympic experiences with Brazil and despite Fabio's departure on loan to QPR this summer, Rafael has excelled at a time when he has largely been United's only fit right-back, hence his 19th appearance of the campaign in last night's 1-0 win over West Ham.

"Rafael came into the team at 18 and made a lot of mistakes," said Sir Alex Ferguson. "He was very rash.

"But we invested in him for our future and he is showing that maturity now."

Defensive colleague Jonny Evans has gone even further, indicating new Brazil coach Luis Felipe Scolari should be casting a close eye on a player who, to date, has made just two appearances at senior level in addition to his performances for the silver medal-winning Olympic side.

"Rafael has been outstanding all season," said the Northern Ireland international.

"He has had to play there quite a lot because there has not been anyone else challenging in that position but his energy at right-back is really good.

"He really sets the tone and is a credit to himself.

"Everyone probably thought it would be a bit tough for him with his brother going away but he has got his head down and worked really hard.

"He is one of the best right backs in the world."

Rafael and Evans were part of a defence that secured only its fourth clean sheet of the season against the Hammers.

It was one of the few plus points from an otherwise disappointing evening, when the Red Devils failed to capitalise on the start given to them by Robin van Persie, who scored the quickest Premier League goal of the season.

Not that Michael Carrick is underestimating the benefits of such shut outs as the days tick down to the first Manchester derby of the season at the Etihad Stadium on December 9, which looks increasingly like a meeting between the two sides who will once again scrap it out for the title given Chelsea's present troubles.

"It was a long way from a classic," said Carrick.

"The biggest plus was the clean sheet, which at least gives us something to build on.

"We had a spell a few years ago when we really started games well and could have killed teams off.

"We want to try and get back to something near that because Old Trafford is a difficult place to come when you go a goal down."

Not everything in Sir Alex Ferguson's garden is entirely rosy though.

Paul Scholes' availability after suspension presents a selection dilemma for Saturday's trip to Reading as, whilst the veteran midfielder has come under fire for his recent performances, his replacement last night, Anderson, did not get through the full 90 minutes, signalling to the bench before the end he was too tired to continue.

PA

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
These photographs released by the University of Maryland Medical Center show images of full face transplant recipient 37-year-old Richard Lee Norris of Hillsville, Virginia
mediaGQ front page features man who underwent full face transplant
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Sport
Moeen Ali wearing the 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine' wristbands on his left arm
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tv
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Battle of the Five Armies trailer released
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on