What the hell happened to Manucho?

In recent years at Manchester United, there have been plenty of players that have arrived with big potential but somehow failed to deliver at Old Trafford. David Bellion, Eric Djemba-Djemba and Dong Fangzhou are some of those that have failed to make the grade for United. Another player that falls into this category is Mateus Alberto Contreiras Goncalves, or as he is better known, Manucho.

After excelling in the 2008 African Cup of Nations for Angola, where he scored 4 goals, including a 25 yard screamer, Manucho was signed by United in January 2008. Tall, quick and agile, the Angolan striker was expected to be a big hit at Old Trafford, and back up Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez in the United strikeforce.

Work permit issues saw Manucho shipped out on loan to Panathinaikos in Greece, where he did well, scoring 4 goals in 7 appearances for the club. A return to United for the 2008-09 season meant that the then-24 year old Manucho could make an impact at Old Trafford. It didn’t quite happen that way though. A suspected metatarsal injury hampered the striker’s development at Old Trafford, and Manucho only took part in 2 games for United, coming on as a substitute for Ryan Giggs in the Carling Cup against Middlesborough, and making a further substitute appearance against Stoke.

The lack of first team opportunities at Old Trafford saw Manucho loaned out to Hull for the latter part of last season. The Angolan managed to score 2 goals in 13 appearances (7 of those were as a substitute) to help keep Hull in the Premier League.

Unwanted and surplus to requirements, Manucho was sold to Real Valladolid in Spain last summer. This season, he has scored 2 goals in 18 games (with 7 of those coming from the bench) in a Valladolid side that is 19th in La Liga.

So why was Manucho unable to make it at Old Trafford? Part of it was that he didn’t really get the chance to impress. Or the explanation could be that Manucho was never good enough to play for United in the first place.

This just proves that you have to listen to “The Special One”. When Manucho joined United, Jose Mourinho said of the Angolan:

“If you asked me whether I believe one day he will play for Manchester United I have my doubts.

“I do not know if he will progress so well that he can play for one of the best teams in the world. But he is clearly a very good talent. He’s ready to play in European football.”

And that is the case. We may see Manucho come back to the Premiership in the future, but not at one of the top four clubs. He is a good talent, he’s just not a player destined for the very top.

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