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Anderson will be the next Roy Keane, says Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson has backed young midfielder Anderson to inspire Manchester United's next generation to glory and hailed him as the natural successor to Roy Keane.

Fergie has confided to his coaching staff and close associates that the 20-year-old Brazilian is one of the most gifted players he has seen during his glittering managerial career.

And Fergie named Anderson - who is set to feature with United's youngsters in tonight's Carling Cup tie against Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford - as the heir apparent to former Reds skippers Keane and Bryan Robson.

"Our style has changed over the last few years," said Fergie. "We've got different types of players to 10 years ago. You can't replicate every team with identical players - it's impossible.

"When I first came here they used to say Bryan Robson was the king and that you couldn't win a game without him.

"I began to believe it as well, because we didn't operate as well without him on the pitch.

"We had to change the mentality, change the mental toughness. They thought you could never find another Robson, but then Keane came along and filled the breach.

"Then they thought you'd never get another Keane, but then someone like Anderson steps through the door and the cycle just keeps going."

Although Anderson has yet to score his first goal for United, following his £18million move from Porto in the summer of 2007, Fergie is convinced the belligerent midfielder is an Old Trafford legend-in-waiting.

"Anderson's a different type of player altogether to Keane," said Fergie. "But when you've lost Keane and you've got Paul Scholes coming to the end of his career, you say, 'Who's going to function for Manchester United?'

"Then a lad like Anderson comes in - just 19 years old when he joined us - and you see the level of his performance.

"You know he's going to become a terrific player and life moves on, United move on, it's inevitable."

Another of United's emerging stars, and Anderson's fellow Brazilian, is defender Rafael Da Silva. He is also expected to start at Old Trafford tonight, following his impressive cameo against Arsenal last weekend.

Rafael came on in Saturday's thrilling 2-1 defeat at the Emirates Stadium and scored a stunning volley which almost enabled United to snatch a point.

The 18-year-old is seen as the longterm successor to captain Gary Neville at right-back.

"Rafael is such a gutsy character and he's got such talent," said Fergie. "He's got great courage to play and he's a real breath of fresh air.

"He's got the Brazilian mentality of 'Give me the ball, I want to play', and every time we get the ball, he wants it. It's a great attribute to have for such a young kid.

"When he came on against Arsenal, he grabbed the game. He took us up a notch in the match.

"We've always thought highly of him, and that's why he's been playing quite regularly in our first team recently.

"It's not easy for an 18-year-old defender to go straight into the first team, but Rafael is one of the bright young players we have in the club at the moment and we're very pleased with him."
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