Champions League: Macheda Has One Game to Save His Manchester United Career

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2012

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - NOVEMBER 20: Federico Macheda of Manchester United battles with Hamit Altintop of Galatasary during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between Galatasaray and Manchester United at the Turk Telekom Arena on November 20, 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Federico Macheda's rare appearance in Manchester United colours summed up a disappointing four years for the 21-year-old.

Sir Alex Ferguson allowed the Italian just 16 minutes in the Champions League clash with Galatasaray. He replaced an industrious Nick Powell, who indicated he can play decent football under the hotpot pressure of the Turk Telecom Arena.

Macheda trotted on. United fans remembered who he was, reminisced about his superb debut goal against Aston Villa, and then joked he would be sold in January.

The reality is a lot more serious for a youngster who hasn't built upon his stunning start at Old Trafford. Macheda has barely had an impact since he cut the ribbon in 2008.

Potential doesn't always progress as it should. While Danny Welbeck went on loan and grew into one of the club's most valuable starlets, Macheda rotted with inconsistency.

Loans spells at Sampdoria and Queens Park Rangers proved unsuccessful—he failed to score in a combined total of 17 games across the two deals.

Manchester United's trip to Galatasaray was the perfect opportunity for Macheda to gain some much needed match practice. Ferguson decided he wasn't worthy of a starting place, instead opting for Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck in attack.

This was a game United didn't need to win. The Red Devils could have experimented further in a testing environment. Macheda's late furore was perhaps Ferguson's way of indicating the striker will have minimal opportunities to revive his stuttering career at the elite club.

While it's unfair to fully judge Macheda on his statistics against the Turkish outfit, it's truthful to say his first team performances have been consistently poor.

The former Lazio trainee held onto the ball too long. He decided to try and dribble through a trio of Galatasaray players and was easily shut down. Macheda failed to complete a successful dribble, was dispossessed once and sloppily strayed offside during a United break. He completed 67 percent of his passes—the lowest of any outfield player on the pitch.

United's failure to progress in the Capital One Cup has limited Macheda's opportunities this season. With Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez battling for first team places, the lanky striker is unlikely to receive much focus in the run up to Christmas.

Macheda has one game to save his Manchester United career. Many will suggest this number is optimistic. If he doesn't take part against Cluj on December 5, the Italian U21 international won't even get a chance to say goodbye to the Stretford End he once erupted.

The glorious debut is written into United's folklore. Fans cheered manically, commentators told us to remember Macheda's name. His last action under Ferguson's management could be a far cry from that memorable day.

If Macheda doesn't improve quickly, the name is likely to be forgotten far more quickly than it was made.

Do you think Manchester United will off-load Federico Macheda in January? Let me know in the comments section below, and be sure to follow me on Twitter:

All statistics in this article are courtesy of Whoscored.