Over the years Manchester United have produced some excellent players from their academy who have gone on to greatness. The likes of Giggs, Beckham, Scholes, Butt and the Neville brothers immediately spring to mind. Recent youth products at Old Trafford, while not as great, have done well, which include Darren Fletcher, Jonny Evans and John O’Shea.
But some players fail to make the grade at Old Trafford, they are either not good enough to break into the side (Paul McShane comes to mind), or just don’t get the opportunity to shine and have to excel at another club. Here are the ten United castoffs that couldn’t cut it at Old Trafford, but have found their feet elsewhere in the Premier League.
Shawcross made two substitute appearances for United in the Carling Cup before joining Stoke in 2007. The defender has impressed for Stoke in the last two seasons and earned himself an England call-up this month against Egypt. A powerful, strong and no-nonsense defender, Shawcross likes the physical side of the game, but needs to improve his tackling. United reportedly have first refusal on Shawcross, so if the defender continues to improve, he could return to Old Trafford to back up the likes of Vidic and Ferdinand.
The midfielder was always on the fringes of the first team at Old Trafford, and there were always concerns about his attitude and work rate. After a successful spell on loan at West Brom, Richardson was a regular in the England squad for about two years, between 2005 and 2007, making a few substitute appearances for his country. Richardson moved to Sunderland for £5.5 million in 2007 and even though he continues to show flashes of brilliance, he is too inconsistent and often lazy.
After an extremely successful loan spell at Hull in 2007-08, Campbell was set to make a big impact at Old Trafford last season, even starting in the opening game at Newcastle. But Campbell was loaned out to Tottenham as part of the Berbatov deal, and fell down the pecking order at White Hart Lane. After being sold to Sunderland last summer, Campbell has been a bit of a disappointment, only scoring once in the Premiership in 22 games (12 of them have been as a substitute) and 4 goals in all competitions.
Eagles was once dubbed as “the new David Beckham” (someone obviously needs their eyes testing when they said that!), but never broke into the first team at Old Trafford and was sold to Burnley in 2008. The winger has impressed for Burnley this season and while he looks to have a solid career, he is not a United calibre player.
A fast and powerful striker, Ebanks-Blake looked to have a bright future with United, before injuries disrupted his time at Old Trafford. At Wolves last season, the striker was a goalscoring machine, scoring 25 goals as Wolves won promotion to the Premiership. This season though, a mixture of injuries, poor form and low confidence has seen Ebanks-Blake struggle for Wolves, only scoring once in 24 games.
Like so many others, Bardsley rarely got the chance to impress at Old Trafford and was sent out on loan to Aston Villa, Rangers and Burnley in his spell with United. Tough tackling and able to play at full-back or in the centre of defence, Bardsley moved to Sunderland, where he has helped shore up their leaky defence.
Greening found himself unable to break into the first team at Old Trafford, mainly because of the likes of Scholes, Keane, Butt, Giggs and Beckham that were chosen ahead of him. Moved to Middlesborough with Steve McLaren in 2001 and was a success and both Boro and West Brom. Now on a season-long loan at European giant-killers Fulham.
Pugh only made a handful of appearances for United before moving to the likes of Leeds and Preston. Pugh is a versatile player and can play at left back or midfield, and is part of an ex-United contingent at Stoke, along with Ryan Shawcross and Danny Higginbotham. Used as a squad player at Stoke, Pugh has made 5 Premiership appearances this year, scoring one goal.
The American impressed in the United reserve team with his good defensive skills and the ability to play anywhere across the back four. Spector joined West Ham in 2006, and has done a good job at Upton Park, despite being plagued by injury for much of last season. Has been a regular for West Ham this year, playing in 19 games for the struggling club.
Like so many other youngsters at Old Trafford, Higginbotham struggled to break into the United first team. Joined Derby in 2000 and moved from club to club, also playing for Sunderland, Southampton and Stoke. Rejoined Stoke in 2008 and helped the club achieve survival in the Premier League. Has played in 15 games for Stoke this season, scoring one goal.
The striker was a success for United’s youth and reserve teams but never established himself in the first team. After a spell on loan at Port Vale, Webber has played at Sheffield United and Watford. Now at Portsmouth, where he has scored one goal in 15 games for the relegation-bound club this season.
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