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Can Chris Eagles be everything Kieran Richardson is not?

After last night’s draw with Chelsea, Alex Ferguson praised Chris Eagles and Kieran Lee for their contributions. Personally, I think it was a bit troubling that Lee was beaten by Sinclair and he’ll need more time (preferably on loan) before we can pass any serious judgement on him. He looks decent enough.

Eagles though, is a different case. He’s had his loan periods, and he’s had his time playing in the reserves. It’s time for him to stand up and be counted, and on recent (albeit scant) evidence, he’s doing a much better job than Kieran Richardson.

It’s been a strange sort of season for Eagles. The pre-season saw him being maligned by fans and he was one of the few (the others being Fletcher, Silvestre and O’Shea) who were constantly talked about as the ‘cruft’ in the United squad.

Later on, with Manchester United flying high, Eagles for forgotten and he only came into the limelight with United’s injury crisis in April.

One goal against Everton (as a late sub) and the best Manchester United player (well, the best after Wes Brown) on the pitch on Stamford Bridge, and now he’s completely changed his impressions from that we had at the start of the season.

It’s unfair to judge (or ball-bust) a player based on 2 performances. From what little I’ve seen, his goal was well taken (especially for a reserve teamer who has no first team experience at Old Trafford) and overall he was quite good against Chelsea.

Hopefully Ferguson will play Eagles against West Ham on Sunday. It would be interesting to see how he plays when Rooney and Ronaldo are on the pitch. He wasn’t overawed by John Terry, Essien or SWP, I doubt he’ll be intimidated by the likes of Anton Ferdinand.

And in Chris Eagles we see everything that Kieran Richardson promised a couple of years ago. Richardson lacks the football intelligence and perhaps the poise to succeed with United, and I think he will need a full season in the Prem out on loan before we can make a final decision on him (he can be a good backup winger).

With Eagles, I hope he gets the same chances next season that Richardson got.

Ferguson puts it best when he says:

“Chris Eagles was one of our best players tonight. He provided a great deal of variety in his match, his work-rate was terrific.

I think Chris has shown he’s got the temperament to play. He does work very hard at his game. He’s one of the lads who goes out and practises in the afternoons.

You get the rewards of that, and there are great dividends. The dividend for Chris Eagles tonight is that I wouldn’t be afraid to play him any time.”

You know what? I wouldn’t mind Eagles playing for United against most of United’s Prem opponents. That’s about as much as we can say for Park Ji-Sung or Alan Smith, right?

What are the chances that Eagles can be the ‘next big thing’ to come out of United’s academy? It’s too early to make any predictions, but we can always hope.

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