Ferguson hails super Nani

Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed Nani's dramatic improvement in Manchester United's rise to the Premier League summit.

The Portugal winger arrived at Old Trafford in 2007 for £17million amid great expectation, only to fail miserably in his attempt to win a regular spot in Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United line-up. It would have been no surprise if the winger had been off-loaded during the January transfer window but instead, Nani has hit a rich vein of form, cementing his place in the United line-up ahead of Sunday's encounter with fierce north-west rivals Liverpool.

"I have always said Nani is a talented boy," said Ferguson. "He has great feet, great pace and great endurance. He is a terrific trainer and a tough little lad."

He added: "He has all the parts you need and what we hoped was that maturity would bring them all together.

"We have definitely seen great improvement in his form over the last few weeks. He is starting to mature and that is the reason why I am playing him."

Ferguson will hope Nani's pace and balance unsettle a Liverpool side who have beaten United on their last three meetings, each of which have featured Nemanja Vidic being sent off.

Victory would keep the Red Devils at the Premier League summit for another few days at least, although the fact his side have to face Steven Gerrard has vexed Ferguson.

Twice in the last couple of weeks Gerrard has escaped any action for incidents that seemed certain to be looked at by the FA's disciplinary committee, bringing a stinging response from the United boss.

"We know that," responded Ferguson when it was pointed out Gerrard was not the first Liverpool player to benefit from non-action by the FA as Javier Mascherano also escaped censure for a similar incident in a Carling Cup tie against Leeds earlier this season.

"They do all right with that. They are lucky with that. It happens. Maybe in some years we will get lucky too. Who knows?"