With Sir Alex gone and David Moyes presently struggling in this, the most frustrating of transfer windows for United fans, we take a look back at the former’s time at the club and how he didn’t always get it right himself.
This list takes a look at some of the players were either excellent players before signing for United, or who went on to become fantastic players after leaving United. Here’s five of the biggest ‘right player, wrong time’ players under Fergie.
- Dimitar Berbatov – Where better to begin than with United’s record signing at just over £30 million. Signing from Spurs in 2008 after a long, protracted saga that cemented Daniel Levy’s legacy as the most awkward chief executive in England to deal with, Berbatov seemed to be exactly what United were looking for. Guile, class, an eye for goal and a bravado not seen since the lofty days of one Eric Cantona were the order of the day here. But not all that glitters is gold, as while Berba had the odd moment of brilliance, three of his four seasons at United flattered to deceive, ending ultimately in his transfer last Summer to Fulham to link up with Martin Jol once again. We’ll always have that hat-trick against Liverpool though.
- Juan Sebastian Veron – Another expensive error on Fergie’s part who still remains a fan favourite amongst many of United’s faithful all the same. Signing from Lazio in 2001 for a then club record fee of £28.1 million, the signing of this Argentinian midfield maestro was a statement of intent that United weren’t happy with just domestic domination, but were adamant about a return to the summit of European football. Signed the same year as Ruud van Nistelrooy, who was a monumental success at Old Trafford, Veron flattered to deceive and inevitably left the club as an expensive flop in 2003 when newly minted Chelsea forked over £15 million for his services, which Abramovich funded by reaching down the side of his sofa.
- Gerard Piqué – What could have been. Gerard Piqué wasn’t an expensive signing in the slightest, in fact he was free. Before he could sign professional papers at Barcelona, United signed him up in 2004 to the youth academy, before turning professional at Old Trafford. Showing obvious potential and class and offering something different from what the current crop of defenders possessed, Piqué’s problems in breaking into United’s first eleven were because of two things – Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Breaking up arguably the most effective defensive partnership in Europe was a near impossible task and Piqué was subsequently called home to Barcelona in 2008, where he went on to win four La Liga titles, two Champions League titles, as well as a World Cup and a European Championship with Spain. Plus he’s shacked up with Shakira. And they it’s all downhill once you leave Manchester United.
- Diego Forlán – Like Veron and Berbatov before him, Forlán didn’t quite hit the heights expected of him at Manchester United, but he’ll forever remain in United fans’ hearts for his time in Old Trafford. Diego was signed in January 2002 from Independiente for £6.9 million, and went on to make just 63 appearances, scoring only 10 goals (thought two of these were at Anfield, crucially) before signing for Villarreal in 2004. There Forlán had a hugely successful spell, scoring 54 goals in 106 games before an even better spell at Atlético Madrid from 2007-11 where he notched 74 goals in 134 appearances. A brief and unsuccessful spell at Inter Milan followed in 2011 where he failed to follow up on his performances for Uruguay at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where he was awarded the coveted ‘Golden Ball’ award for player of the tournament. He came from Uruguay, and at least he made them scousers cry.
- Giuseppe Rossi – Now this is one player that came through United’s academy and reserve system that many United fans were positive would amount to great things at Old Trafford. With a peach of a left foot, this little genius was part of one of United’s best reserve/youth teams of the last two decades alongside Sylvain Ebainks-Blake, Lee Martin, David Jones and Gerard Piqué. Unfortunately for the American-born Italian Rossi, he only managed the five senior appearances for United, scoring one memorable goal at the Stadium of Light against Sunderland. He (sadly for United fans) signed for Villarreal in 2007 and went on to score 54 goals in 136 games for the Yellow Submarine, though injuries ravaged his final two seasons at the club as he missed 6 and 10 months of action with an anterior cruciate ligament knee injury. He signed for Italian side Fiorentina back in January however, as he looks to kickstart his career again. Injuries aside, he’s certainly one player we may rue ever selling.
Courtesy of of Keith Fitzpatrick who you can follow on Twitter @KeithMacGP