He’s the best manager of the modern era by a country mile, a knight, adored by every Manchester United fan and once even took on the might of Real Madrid with tiny Aberdeen and won a major European competition. Sir Alex Ferguson will rightly be regarded as one of the greatest managers ever. His time at Manchester United will be regarded as THE Golden Era for the club. However it is worth remembering that Sir Alex hasn’t always got it right at Old Trafford as we present this affectionate look at ten players Sir Alex has signed, who proved to be a Fergie Flop.
10. Diego Forlan : It may seem a little harsh including the Uruguyan striker on this list. He did after all score two memorable goals at Anfield (with the help of Jerzy Dudek) and has since gone on to be a huge hit for Villarreal and Atletico Madrid in Spain, but for a large part of his time at United, Forlan was a big disappointment. His £6.9m fee weighing so heavily on his mind that he took 27 games to open his account. He’s proven since he had the ability Ferguson had obviously spotted, but his time at Old Trafford was very disappointing.
9. Dimitar Berbatov : The £30m man has not proven himself to be anywhere near his price tag. Sure, he’s scored a few and shown some exquisite touches, but for £30m you’d expect a bit more than someone who looks like he can’t be arsed 90% of the time. His friends call it his “languid style”, this means “does feck all for most of the game and doesn’t try.” Not a total flop but for £30m you’d expect a lot more. To put it in perspective, that is Fernando Torres plus £10m change.
8. Ralph Milne : Who? It seems a bit daft to suggest a player who only cost £150,000 was a flop. Nowadays that is weeks wage for Rio Ferdinand, but Milne was a special case. A decent player in Scotland with Dundee United, he came South of the border to try his luck at Charlton and failed before moving onto Bristol City. Sir Alex, remembering the nippy winger from his Aberdeen days, splashed out £150,000 to bring him to Old Trafford! Milne couldn’t believe his luck! The Old Trafford faithful couldn’t believe their eyes. 23 appearances and 3 goals later he left on a free.
7. Jordi Cruyff : Cruyff is a name synonymous with football wizardry across the world. Sadly for Jordi, that accolade was earned by his illustrious father Johan in the 1970’s. The Cruyff of the 1990’s was a half decent midfielder who quickly discovered that he was a little out of his depth at Barcelona and Manchester United. Not a truly awful signing for £1.4m but certainly he was not a Fergie superstar.
6. Mark Bosnich : The highly rated Aussie was the chosen successor to the brilliant Peter Schmeichel. Although he picked up a league title in his first season, Bosnich’s erratic form convinced nobody at Old Trafford that he was the heir apparent to Schmeichel. A year after he joined from Aston Villa, he was third choice and Manchester United were relying on the far more reliable Fabien Barthez, and that is a phrase seldom used in the football world.
5. Juan Sebastian Veron : A cultured, elegant midfielder whose vision, flair and passing skills would give United an added dimension that no other team in the Premiership could dream to possess. At £28m he was heralded as a bargain and the man to come to Old Trafford and take on the iconic “Cantona” role at the club. A talented footballer, Veron just didn’t cut it in England whatsoever. So often a peripheral figure, the £28m spent looked like a total waste of money. Sir Alex real genius was offloading him to Chelsea and earning a big fat wodge of that money back again.
4. David Bellion : “United sign the new Henry!” screamed the headlines when Sir Alex landed the striker from an unhappy Sunderland, who had claimed United had been tapping up their star striker for some time. 4 goals in 24 games later and £2m compensation in the bank for a player who subsequently returned to France with Nice on a free and Sunderland felt much happier about the whole episode.
3. Kleberson : When you sign a member of a World Cup Winning team, you are expecting big things. Kleberson was just that when Sir Alex signed him in 2003 from Atletico Paranaense for a fee of £6.5m. During his two years with United he made 20 appearances, scored two goals and is mianly remembered by Manchester United fans for contributing almost nothing of note to the team. It came as no surprise when he was shipped out to Besiktas in 2005 and he is now currently playing for Flamengo in Brazil.
2. Massimo Taibi : During the post-Schmeichel era, Sir Alex wasn’t having the best of luck with keepers. Bosnich was shaky, Van Der Gouw even worse, so Sir Alex paid Venezia £4.4m for the Italian shot stopper Massimo Taibi. His career began well with a man of the match performance in a victory against Liverpool. However 3 appearances later including letting in a dribbling shot through his legs from Southampton’s Matt Le Tissier and playing his part in a 5-0 humiliation at Chelsea, Taibi’s Old Trafford career was over. Not bad though for £1.1m per appearance.
1. Eric Djemba-Djemba : Finding a successor to Roy Keane would never be easy. Sir Alex felt the Nantes midfielder could do the trick and £3.5m showed how much faith he had in the Cameroon international. It’s hard to fathom how inept Djemba Djemba was during his 20 appearances at Old Trafford. Suffice to say he is remembered by the United faithful as being probably the worst player they have seen during the modern era. He was sold on to Aston Villa where once again he failed to impress and now plays for the mighty BK Odense in Denmark.
See? Sometimes even the great ones don’t get it right…
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