As United surged forward on Saturday night pushing for a third goal, a microcosm of Nani's year emerged. He cut inside from the wing, turned on goal, unleashed a shot, waiting for the ball to strike the back of the net and a huge roar to emerge from the Old Trafford crowd.
Instead the ball sailed into the stands over the goal, and only groans and shakes of the head could be heard and seen around the stadium. Never mind the fact he had converted an earlier opportunity for his first goal of the season, this was push coming to shove - he needed to produce and he fluffed his lines.
There is no question Nani has been struggling for form this season, and his performances have been infuriating supporters. The emergence of Antonio Valencia as United's number one attacking threat on the right hand-side last season has left him needing to make a big impression, and he has been unable to provide it.
His performances at Anfield and Goodison Park were heavily criticised, and a missed penalty in the Champions League did little to get him back on track. His sole contribution of note has been his assist from a corner for Robin van Persie's headed winner at Southampton, ironically an area he has been regularly poor in failing to beat the first man with his deliveries.
It has been a continuation of an underwhelming 2012; injury meant a stop start role when the calendar year began, and even on his return to action he was a bit-part figure in United's title challenge.
It was viewed as surprising, and at worst inexplicable, that Sir Alex Ferguson elected to start him at the Etihad in the crucial title decider at the end of April leaving in-form Antonio Valencia on the bench, and the winger failed to seize his opportunity turning in an anonymous performance which he has mirrored this season.
At Euro 2012 despite Portugal's run to the semi-finals, his showings were mixed, and he was completely overshadowed by former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.
So coming into this season not all was well, hardly the impressive form of a year earlier in which he was United's Player of the Year, scoring nine goals in the Premier League in 2010/11, and providing a phenomenal 19 assists.
As July turned into August and the new campaign neared kick-off, Nani's preparation was being overshadowed by contract negotiations. His current deal expires in 2014, and it was reported that he wants to stay at the club, however United were unwilling to offer him the £120,000 a week he wants.
Is he deserving of it? Undoubtedly he has the talent, and quantifying a player's wages is hard to measure, and considering the context of teammate Wayne Rooney's reported £250,000 weekly wage, Nani's demands do not seem overly extreme.
The issue for United is whether they feel the 25-year-old has a long-term future at the club. The arrival of Kagawa has seemingly offered indications of an altered formation, and Valencia is the club's number one outlet on the right after Nani's failure to take his big chance against City, and the Ecuadorian's continuation of his good form, and awarding of the iconic number 7 shirt.
Contract talks are now reported to have broken down, and even in August the papers were claiming Nani was disillusioned. Sir Alex Ferguson claimed in his programme notes after the Everton game that a player had fallen out of love with playing for the club. While speculation reigned that he was talking about Wayne Rooney, the fact Nani was omitted from the squad for the next game at home to Fulham revealed a more telling story.
As August came to a close, United were reported to have been in negotiations with Zenit St Petersburg over a possible sale. It did not happen, but if it did it sure would have unsettled the player further, which has translated with indifferent performances on the pitch.
News of a bust-up with youth team player Davide Petrucci in training at the end of last week has taken on a suggestive nature, that the club are now fed up with him and willing to cut their losses in January and sell to the highest bidder, with 18 months remaining on his contract. A fee of £25 million could be fetched for him, whereas next summer with just one year left his market value would likely depreciate to under £20 million.
The question is who is at fault here. Is it Nani for sulking and allowing his disillusionment to manifest itself on the pitch, or is the club for refusing to offer him a deal the player considers fair?
Neither come out of it smelling of roses, but if Nani does not buck his ideas up soon, even if his ultimate aim is to sign a new contract and stay at Old Trafford, it may be too late as the decision may well be taken to move him on thanks to his poor performances.
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