The Barclays Premier league season 2010-11 would undoubtedly go down as one of the most unpredictable campaigns ever; each and every club has found the going tough on numerous occasions. Man United’s league season has often been blotted by various events, the least remarkable of all being ‘The Wayne Rooney saga’, followed closely by the horrific injury to Tony V. However, two young boys from the land of Samba have given reasons for joy, and hope for the near future, uplifting the gloom surrounding Old Trafford. The ‘Da Silvas’ are here, and there time is now.  Call them petulant; over enthusiastic or naïve, their effervescence is exactly the tonic this club needs.


Back in the summer of 2007, a deal was agreed between Fluminense and Man United; the twins landed in rainy Manchester in January ’08. Fabio Da Silva – captain of the Brazil U17 Team in the World cup – was gathering rave reviews, he was the joint top scorer having scored spectacular bicycle kicks et al. Back in the city of Manchester and in every nook and cranny of the world, Red Devils all around waited for the first sighting of the ‘boys from Brazil’.

Rafael and Fabio da Silva both made their debuts for Man United on the 4th of August 2008 in a friendly against Peterborough. Rafael was the first to impress, Ferguson admittedly was blown away.  After a storming performance against Peterborough, the Brazilian teenager impressed again at right back and this time against world-class opposition in the form of European power house Juventus. Fabio however had injury concerns hindering his breakthrough, a perennial bugbear that haunts him till date.

Rafael’s Breakthrough

Regarded as the lesser of the two siblings, this little fiery Brazilian was the first to make it at the Theatre of Dreams. Making a substitute appearance in United’s opening league game of the 08-09 campaign, Rafa captured the imagination of the anticipating Old Trafford crowd with a mesmerizing display from the right full back position.

Rafael to his credit went on to make 28 appearances in his debut season, scoring a thunderous goal at Emirates of all places. United won the league title and Rafael deservedly received a winner’s medal at the ripe age of 18.

Rafael’s stature has since risen; though the blistering Brazilian has a habit of being rash and going hard on the tackle at times, he has made a conscious attempt of calming himself down. The Champions League Quarter final second leg at Old Trafford against Munich probably still haunts young Rafa – his petulance got the better of him on that fateful night and probably cost his side a place in the next round. However, that night something changed in Rafael, something snapped, the boy turned into a man. However, the fire in his belly hasn’t diminished; he still plays the game his way, with commitment, passion and untold belief. Nobody at United would have him any other way.

A potential pitfall for Rafael is his feisty temper, as someone once said “Get mad, then get over it.” Rafael has often shown his gullibility to lose his mind in the heat of the moment. Rather memorably, Rafael’s show down with Judas this season would remain etched in the minds of every United supporter for generations to come; Rafa stood his ground, took it, didn’t bat an eye lid literally and gave it back with interest. In the battle between “Beauty and the Beast”, Rafa came out on top.

We really can’t differentiate one from the other with any kind of certainty, but we know for sure who the ‘evil twin’ is.

Rather than the size of the dog, the size of the fight in the dog is what matters.

Sky is the bare minimum for Rafael, with the world at his feet and the fans on his side, one half of the ”two little whippets” has nothing but himself to fear.

Fabio’s early struggles

Unlike Rafa, Fabio has had to do it the hard way.  Fabio has always come to live with the baggage of being tagged as the more talented of the twins, owing to his exploits in the U-17 World cup. However, things haven’t been as rosy for Fab – he has had a lot on his plate since stepping foot on the British Isles. Injuries, Patrice Evra’s impeccable form and even his brother’s rapid progress has somewhat delayed his emergence.

Fabio had to make a sacrifice of sorts, playing left-back even though he prefers to play on the right, Rafael being the beneficiary. He made his debut in the same game as his brother against Peterborough, impressed one and all but a shoulder injury delayed his competitive debut. However when fit, Fabio kept on producing series of impressive display playing for the reserves, scoring some mind numbing goals in the process. However, the left-back position at United is still occupied by one of the world’s top performers in the form of Patrice Evra. Fabio has been made to bide his time; although he is ready, Ferguson has used him sparingly. Despite that, Fabio has impressed in every single outing. Fabio Da Silva is an extremely versatile player – Left Back, Right Back, Wings, and Centre Midfield, Fabio can do the job all around the park.

With the current injury crisis at United, Fabio could be in line to make further appearance and showcase his abundant ability. He is naturally comfortable with the ball on his feet, always looking to attack. Fabio scores over Rafael in his calmness and ability in the opposition’s’ six yard box.  Fabio’s goal against Wigan at the DW was a classic example of his pedigree, Fabio dropped his shoulder to make it look like he would shoot across goal and then as the keeper barely moved to that side, he caressed the ball with the inside of his boot inside the near post, showing incredible composure – a look of someone who has done that before.

Optimistically, the injury woes are a thing of the past and Fabio’s United career can hit top gear sooner rather than later. He is presumably the calmer of the two twins, well almost.  The bottle for a fight thankfully is the same – the Da Silva gene is blessed with the spirit of a warrior.

Samba at Old Trafford

With the Neville era over, the DaSilvas are the new dawn at M16. The club could look forward to years of exciting wing play from the two kings of Samba. Rafael and Fabio remind us all of the fearlessness of youth, the power of a young mind and at times recklessness of the immature.  Most importantly, the twins get the supporters off their feet, set the pulse racing and make everyone feel alive and kicking.  Everyone is smitten by their charm and allure; here’s hoping the Da Silvas continue to bring unparalleled joy and excitement, tearing defences apart and setting alight Man United’s attack from either wing.

Viva Da Silva!
Viva Da Silva!
Running down the pitch,
Don’t know which is which,
Viva Da Silva!

The Da Silva chant is surely going to be heard echoing for years to come, the Neville brothers left an inerasable mark in United’s folklore, Rafa and Fab would be well served to follow their lead.