OTP revisits some of the transfers that the country’s largest clubs would rather forget…
10. Erik Nevland
Nevland was sold to Manchester United at the age of 19 before he had even made an appearance for his club side. He stayed at the club for three seasons, but only ever made one league appearance, coming off the bench against Southampton. He moved back to Viking in Norway on a free transfer in 2000, where he suddenly got quite good. Still a waste of £1.5million.
9. Alan Smith
Joined United after a successful start to his career as a striker at Leeds. However, after scoring fewer goals than expected and losing a first-team spot to Wayne Rooney and Ruud Van Nistelrooy (understandably), Fergie revealed that he was converting Smith to a defensive central midfielder. He wasn’t really good enough in this role either, and after a dreadful broken leg and dislocated ankle, his days at Old Trafford were numbered.
8. Dimitar Berbatov
Possibly contraversial as he topped scored for United in a title-winning season, but for the £31million they paid to Spurs should United have expected more? He cost more than Rooney and Van Nistelrooy and is United’s biggest ever purchase, remember. In Premier League games against Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City he has scored one goal for the club. And of his 48 league goals for the club, 26 were against teams currently in the Championship and Wigan. Just a flat-track bully?
7. Juan Sebastian Veron
Veron would be higher on the list if United hadn’t somehow coerced Chelsea into paying £15million for his services. At £28.1million, Veron broke the British transfer record at the time of his signing, and scored just seven league goals from an attacking midfield position in two seasons. When questioned by the media about whether Veron had been a flop, Fergie responded with the gentle: “He is a f*cking great player, and you’re all f*cking idiots.”
6. Eric Djemba-Djemba
Embarrassingly for the Cameroon international, Djemba-Djemba (so bad they named him twice?) was bought as a direct replacement for Roy Keane. But in his 18 months in Manchester he showed that he was not fit to lace Keane’s boots, never mind fill them. He was eventually sold to Aston Villa for a £2million loss (a fee of £1.5million), where he also played badly enough to appear in our list for them.
5. Diego Forlan
The subject of a wonderful terrace chant (‘He came from Uruguay, he made the Scousers cry’), but in truth Forlan offered little else in England, famously taking 18 games to even open his account at the club after a £6.9million move. Frustratingly for United, since leaving the club Forlan has won the Europa League, Super Cup, Copa America and achieved a fourth place in World Cup, while on a personal level winning the Pichichi twice, European Golden Boot on two occasions and being named the best player at the 2010 World Cup. Onwards and upwards, eh?
4. Owen Hargreaves
Not Hargreaves’ fault that his £17million transfer turned into a disaster, but to have only made 27 appearances in the Premier League in four seasons (and four in his last three years) makes his move a massive disappointment. Crippling tendonitis in his knees has led to numerous operations, and it now appears that the midfielder will have to shortly retire at just 31 years old. A bright career that was all but over at 27.
The Brazilian’s performances in the 2002 World Cup led to United splashing £5.9million on player who was seen as a replacement for another failure, Veron. The midfielder was injured in his second game for United, and went on to play just 20 times in two seasons, scoring twice. He was allowed to leave for just £2million in 2005, and is seen as one of Fergie’s biggest mistakes as United manager.
2. Massimo Taibi
Taibi wasn’t a keeper without talent, but he has become synonymous with goalie howlers in the Premier League. Years later, children still take the p*ss out of their mates for ‘doing a Taibi’. He arrived for £4.5million and played four games. The Italian flapped at a free-kick on his debut against Liverpool, and yet won the man of the match award. He then allowed a Matt Le Tissier shot to squirm under his body, and conceded five goals away at Chelsea. He promptly moved to Reggina for £2.5million, where he scored on his debut. Standard stuff, really.
The worst signing in the history of the Premier League? When Ferguson took the advice of Carlos Queiroz and bought Bebe, it became one of the strangest transfers in English football history. Just five weeks earlier Bebe had moved to Guimaraes from Estrela de Amadora for £2.5million, and yet United paid £7.4million (rumours abound of a fantastic deal for the agent brokering the deal). He has since made two substitute league appearances and two cup appearances, scoring a lucky goal against Wolves in the Carling Cup but simply never looking like a capable footballer. He then moved on loan to Besiktas for the whole of last season, playing just four games and still not scoring, and now sits in United’s reserve team, impressing almost no-one.
Have we missed your favourite worst United signing? Let us know below.