It is a moment that all United fans will remember forever, one which has gone down in Old Trafford folklore, and helped push Fergie’s men over the line towards title number eighteen. Some commentators weren’t even pronouncing his name correctly at the time, but Macheda’s last gasp winner over Aston Villa in April 2009 was just vintage United.
Since then though, the Italian’s career has entered a bit of a trough, promoted from the reserves, Macheda was only ever able to score a handful of goals for the Red Devils; four in total, two in 08/09 and one last season, to go with one the season before.
This year, the arrival of Chicharito Hernandez pushed the Italian U21 international lower and lower down the pecking order, until Fergie deemed it appropriate to send him out on loan for the remainder of last season. Unfortunately, Macheda’s move to Sampdoria proved ill fated; the young striker struggled for form in a team that was eventually relegated to Serie B. Trying to fill the boots of players like Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini proved too difficult for the one time Old Trafford hero, raising doubts about his future filling in for even bigger stars like Rooney and Hernandez.
Now, Macheda has returned to Old Trafford, and delivered a message of intent, stating his desire to remain with the Red Devils. Whether or not United sign or sell a star striker this summer, Macheda will find it difficult to break into the first team, so the chances he is presented with must be pounced upon.
Ferguson is renowned for his patience, he is always willing to give players second chances at proving themselves, and Macheda will need that second chance. A couple of match winning performances two years ago forced a reputation on the lad that he wasn’t ready to live up to, a reputation which has only provoked disappointment.
Not every player is good enough to consistently perform for United, and Macheda is beginning to run out of chances to prove that he is part of that select few. His turn and shot against Aston Villa was one of the most sensational pieces of skill ever enjoyed by the Old Trafford faithful, but there have been too many missed chances and mishit passes since then; mistakes which have frustrated fans that much more due to the Italian’s early exploits.
Alongside players like Welbeck, Diouf and Obertan, Macheda is entering a last chance saloon; one final, golden opportunity to become a key part of the Manchester United squad. What comes of Macheda’s cameo showings in the opening weeks of next season could end up defining his career, he has reached a crossroads, one direction points to glory the other to mediocrity-probably in Serie A.
As the start of the new season draws closer and closer, Macheda must begin to prepare himself for the challenges ahead, and the battle that looms if he is to force his way back into the first team. As a devoted follower of “Kiko” throughout his Untied career, I hope that he manages to impress, and eventually moves alongside Zola in the pantheon of the Premier League’s Italian stars.
Will Macheda play a starring role next season?