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Top ten Fergie flops

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  • 5 takes a look at Sir Alex Ferguson's worst ten signings as Manchester United manager

Sir Alex Ferguson brings up another incredible landmark this weekend as he celebrates 25 years as Manchester United manager, and he deserves all the plaudits that will come his way.

He has become a legend over the past quarter of a century and quite rightly so, not only for the success he has brought to Old Trafford but also for all the character virtues that have allowed him to achieve such longevity.

Ferguson has rebuilt his team several times over, showing great faith in the youngsters coming though United's production line but also recruiting cleverly.

The Scot's eye for spotting talent is one of his many strengths and he has signed countless players who have gone on to become world-class and performed key roles in title-winning campaigns.

However, not even Ferguson can go through two-and-a-half decades without putting the odd foot wrong and there have been some memorable flops over the years.

Here, picks out ten players who did not turn out to be quite as useful as the boss would have liked.

Massimo Taibi

Ferguson had to search for a new goalkeeper after Peter Schmeichel's departure and thought he had found his man in Taibi, but a few games later it became apparent he had made a horrible error of judgement. A high-profile gaffe on his first appearance against Liverpool hardly inspired confidence but he also pulled off a few decent saves and it was thought that maybe he was just nervous. However, the Italian did not get any better and made a shocking error against Southampton's Matt Le Tissier, as well as being involved in a 5-0 defeat by Chelsea. Mark Bosnich replaced Taibi after just four games but also failed to win over the fans and Ferguson had to go back into the transfer market for eccentric Frenchman Fabien Barthez.

Ralph Milne

The start of Ferguson's Old Trafford reign was notoriously difficult, as he had to wait nearly four years to lift his first trophy and relied on the patience of club bosses when a manager in modern times might have been let go. It was during this period, when his reputation was still being established, that his transfer business came closely the microscope. He decided to bring in Milne from Bristol City for £150,000 but probably wishes to this day that he hadn't, as the midfielder produced a series of displays so bad that he remains firmly established in the United hall of shame.

Diego Forlan

Unlike many of the other names on this list, there can be no disputing the quality of Forlan. He has played some sensational stuff in Spanish football over the past few years and also done it on the international stage, having been named best player at last summer's World Cup. At United it was a different story, though, as the Uruguayan toiled painfully in pursuit of goals after arriving for a reported fee of £6.9m. He earned the nickname 'Diego Forlorn' after it took 27 games and eight months to open his account and, although some brighter moments followed, he left without showing English audiences anything like his best form.

William Prunier

French defender Prunier only arrived at United on trial in 1995 but he was quickly thrust into the first team following an injury crisis. He did nothing wrong in his first game against Queens Park Rangers but, unfortunately, did very little right in his next game and that proved to be his final appearance. He lined up in a makeshift back four as the Red Devils slumped to a humiliating 4-1 loss to Tottenham and his display was so poor that many supporters may find it difficult to forgive him even now. Prunier was offered an extended trial but declined and went off to enjoy stints in several countries around Europe.

Jordi Cruyff

Carrying the name Cruyff and being the son of an all-time great does lead to a certain amount of expectation, and the Dutchman was viewed as having incredible potential when he joined United from Barcelona at the age of 22. There is no doubt that he had skill and there were flashes of brilliance during a four-year stay at Old Trafford, but there was certainly no consistency and Cruyff looked like he did not have the stomach for the fight at times as he found himself out of the team more often than not.

Karel Poborsky

A player is usually monitored for quite some time before being signed, while an extensive scouting network can allow clubs to discover rare talents before they burst onto the worldwide stage like United did with Javier Hernandez. The other way round, of course, is to buy players on the strength of a couple of decent performances, and that is what appeared to happen with Poborsky after Euro 96. The Czech Republic winger was sparkling that summer for his country and his lob over Vitor Baia will go down as one of the great goals, but he could not reproduce that form on a regular basis for United and was quickly shipped out again.

Juan Sebastian Veron

The pressure was on Veron to live up his record price tag of £28.1million when United swooped to sign the Argentine midfielder from Lazio in the summer of 2001. However, like many foreign players coming into the Premier League, he found it hard to adjust to the pace and intensity of the English game and did not have the same time on the ball to pull the strings as he had done in Italy. Ferguson defended him passionately and Veron did improve, but United eventually allowed him to join Chelsea a couple of years later for around half the price.

Eric Djemba-Djemba

'So good, they named him twice' was the strapline that accompanied promising midfielder Djemba-Djemba as he made the move to Old Trafford in 2003. Unfortunately, he never lived up his billing and the Cameroon international only racked up 20 appearances in two years before being allowed to head for pastures new. An honourable mention must also go to fellow midfielder Kleberson, who arrived at the same time as Djemba-Djemba and proved to be just as ineffective.

Liam Miller

Allegedly the best midfielder since fellow Irishman Roy Keane, Ferguson thought he had pulled off a great piece of business when he landed Miller from Celtic on a free transfer. His stint with United showed that he did not deserve to be so highly rated, as he soon lost his place in the team after a series of appearances in which he contributed very little, and he was moved out on loan to Leeds before eventually joining Sunderland.


Still on United's books and, at the age of 21, he has time to make a success of his move to Old Trafford. However, Bebe will have to perform extremely well to repay a transfer fee believed to be around £7.4million and make up for a forgettable first season with the club. Ferguson had very little knowledge of the Portuguese winger before snapping him up and he looked out of his depth when given a couple of chances in 2010/11. A loan deal was agreed with Besiktas for this term, but Bebe is currently sidelined with cruciate ligament damage.

Comments (5)

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Mark O'shea says...

Wheres Bosnich?

Posted 16:57 30th January 2012

Uzi Moh says...

Wheres kleberson??

Posted 18:09 4th November 2011

Hoosain Ismail says...

Lot of the current players will make this list. Kusack,Anderson,Carrick,Berba,Evans please Evans,Gibson Valencia,Fabio and Raphael,oh don't forget Evans.

Posted 16:10 4th November 2011

Vernon Mccoy says...


Posted 15:03 4th November 2011

Matt Jane says...

Lest we forget David Bellion, signed from Sunderland to resounding delight and hilarity across Wearside. The French winger had the pace to scare any defender in the world - unfortunately he had no touch to go with it. As a runner, he was great, but this is Premier League football and being able to control a football and run with it is prerequisite for the job.

Posted 14:21 4th November 2011

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