The five worst Man United signings of the Ferguson era

According to The Telegraph, Manchester United flop Anderson could have his contract cancelled, despite it having just six months remaining, at the cost of £1.5m.

Sir Alex Ferguson once forked out a mega-sum for the then-Brazil international, but eight years and three managers later, it appears Louis van Gaal wants to end Anderson’s Old Trafford spell as soon as possible.

The Red Devils have hardly got good value from the chubby midfielder since his arrival in 2007, so in honour of the news that he’s about to be released, whilst simultaneously proving that even the greatest manager in Premier League history was no stranger to a transfer clanger, here’s the FIVE worst signings of the ‘Ferguson era’.

[ffc-gallery]CLICK ON FERGIE TO REVEAL THE FIVE

Sir Alex Ferguson[/ffc-gallery]

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ANDERSON

Anderson2
The inspirational muse of this article, Manchester United forked out a whopping £26million for Anderson in 2007 – back when £26million was a serious fee and not just a generic tariff for an England international – and they’re now prepared to pay another £1.5million to cancel the Brazilian’s contract, according to the tabloids:

He won Europe’s prestigious Golden Boy award a year later, having contributed 24 appearances to the Red Devils’ 2008 Premier League title.

But that would go on to constitute the midfielder’s only noteworthy accolade, in addition to his final notable appearances for the Brazil national team, and he was never called upon so frequently again in the next seven campaigns at Old Trafford.

David Moyes shipped him off to Fiorentina in January 2014, who quickly decided they had no interest in Anderson’s services permanently, and the 26 year-old soon boomeranged his way back to Carrington.

There have been some enjoyable moments throughout the former Porto youngster’s eight-year United career:

Persistently plagued by his pot-bellied fitness, Anderson’s amassed just 105 Premier League outings for United, scoring five goals.

That equates to nearly £250k per league appearance, without even bringing wages into the equation. So much for the Roy-Keane-Paul-Scholes-hybrid-come-Cesc-Fabregas’-arch-nemesis Anderson was mooted as almost a decade ago.

Bebe

Bebe1
A United transfer still shrouded in complete mystery, Sir Alex Ferguson could have signed Bebe on a free transfer in summer 2010, but bizarrely allowed the Portuguese youngster to join Vitoria de Guimaraes for five weeks before activating his €9million release clause.

But even if the Red Devils had grabbed the 24 year-old without a transfer fee, he’d still go down in the history books as one of the Old Trafford side’s worst-ever acquisitions.

Bebe spent four years at United, only ever registering seven outings across all competitions, before being sold to Benfica last summer, where he’s yet to make a league appearance. His most memorable showing for the Premier League side? This exhibition of non-league standard crossing against Wolves in 2010:

Throughout that torrid spell with the Red Devils, the forward never came close to resembling the calibre of a United player, or for that matter, a Premier League player, and quickly lost his place in Portugal’s U-21 squad.

He did however, bag twelve goals during a loan spell with Pacos de Ferreira to keep them in the Portuguese top flight last season which, after far less successful loan stints at Besiktas and Rio Ave, is the only reason United recouped €3million of their original investment from Benfica.

MASSIMO TAIBI

Massimo Taibi
Massimo Taibi represented eleven different clubs throughout his career, with his longest tenure consisting of five years at Piacenza, which pretty much says it all.

To give credit where it’s due, the Italian goalkeeper’s short-lived Manchester United spell started pretty well in 1999, winning the Man of the Match award upon his debut against Liverpool after a string of impressive saves:

Unfortunately however, that was soon followed up by this absolute howler against Southampton:

…which Taibi’s name quickly became synonymous with, as well as the headline ‘The Blind Venetian’.

A 5-0 defeat to Chelsea – marking United’s first defeat of the calendar year in September 1999- convinced Fergie to cut his losses on the £4.5million signing, quickly shipping him back to Serie A.

Having only ever made four appearances for the Red Devils, he cost United a whopping £1.125m per outing.

JUAN SEBASTIAN VERON

Veron
Certainly not a misjudgement of quality on Sir Alex Ferguson’s part; despite the nightmares of his Old Trafford tenure, Juan Sebastian Veron will be remembered as one of the finer technical and playmaking talents of his generation, winning the South American Footballer of the Year award in 2008 and 2009 in his mid-thirties.

But the Argentina international could never quite produce the goods in the Premier League, despite scoring some very memorable goals and putting in a number of top-notch Champions League displays:

Often forced to influence from a wide midfield role, Veron was a luxury signing at the incredible cost of £28million – which is still the sixth-largest transfer fee in Old Trafford history – that Ferguson never needed to make.

After two campaigns of limited success, Fergie admitted defeat and allowed the former Lazio star to move on – not before calling the British press ‘f**king idiots’ and labelling Veron a ‘f**king great player’ after widespread scrutiny of his performances.

Bizarrely, considering his incompatibility with the English game, Chelsea thought they could have more luck with Veron and signed him for £15million in 2003.

Seven Premier League appearances and one manager later – Jose Mourinho – the South American was sent on loan to Inter Milan for two seasons as the Blues won back-to-back Premier League titles, then Argentine side Estudiantes, whom he joined permanently when his Stamford Bridge contract expired in 2007.


RALPH MILNE

Old Trafford
Whereas the majority of United signings to make this article have gone on to ply their trade with other clubs, albeit at a considerably lesser level, Ralph Milne’s Manchester United career was so poor he completely fell off the footballing landscape after leaving Old Trafford in 1991.

Sir Alex Ferguson claims the midfielder was his worst ever signing, stating at the inaugural dinner of the 2009 LMA Hall of Fame 1,000 club (an evening celebrating the 18 managers that have managed 1,000 domestic matches in England) “I only paid £175,000 and I still get condemned for it.”

Indeed, despite failing to make the grade during a short-lived stay with Charlton Athletic and dropping two divisions to play for Bristol City in 1988, Milne’s prior exploits at Dundee United – scoring 44 goals in 179 league outings – were enough to convince Fergie that the midfielder could be successful at a top flight club.

He only ever managed 23 league appearances in three years at Old Trafford, quickly overtaken by Danny Wallace and Lee Sharpe in the pecking order, also including a loan spell with West Ham where he failed to feature in the league and made the final appearance of his career in a League Cup fixture against Derby County in January 1990. Here’s a look at Milne’s very, very, brief highlights for the Red Devils:

Milne remained on the Old Trafford books for another 18 months, before joining Hong Kong club Sing Tao for one year.

He’s since admitted problems with alcoholism and gambling during his time at United however – here’s Milne on MUTV’s ‘When the Floodlights Fade’:

 


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