A History of Manchester United in the last chance saloon
A History of Manchester United in the last chance saloon
‘As an extremely pivotal transfer window for Manchester United nears to a close, we remember the good choices and the panicked desperate January selections of the last 20 years…’
The January transfer window can be described as the ‘discount selection round’ of any football season, and unlike the summer edition, it may not exceed four the allocated four weeks. Some may think of it as a last chance saloon for teams who missed out in the preseason, simply through silly split second decisions or possible lack of funds. But could managers like David Moyes be merely playing a sly intelligent game, quietly observing ‘unsettled players’ in their current clubs?
By January, most player’s allegiance or indifference to their particular club would certainly have become clearer, therefore could the later window actually be more beneficial to managers? Are players simply just not getting picked, and perhaps hanging around on the side-lines frustratingly watching as team mates recurrently fill the prize spots, or are they just not good enough? Here we ask if David Moyes last minute gambles pay off this time? and as an extremely pivotal transfer window for Manchester United nears to a close, we remember the good choices and the panicked desperate January selections of the last 20 years…
Ferguson’s Top 3 Thrillers
Nemanja Vidic– Signed January 4th 2006 from Spartak Moscow for £7,000,000
287 Appearances, 20 Goals.
Speaking during the 2007/08 season, Sir Alex Ferguson had some complimentary words to say on the skilled Serbian,
“Vidic has been the best centre half in the country this season. He’s been absolutely outstanding. You could see the difference his partnership with Rio Ferdinand made (for) us against Man City. That foundation of strength in the central defensive position is something we’ve been wanting for a long time, going back to Pallister and Bruce. We’ve had some good combinations but none lasted as long as hopefully these two will do.”
The then manager certainly had high expectations for the Serbian, and like a the fortune teller he was, these beliefs were duely confirmed.
Vidic has captained United to endless victories and trophies. Had it not been for frequent injuries, Vidics’ tally would most certainly be higher.
2006 was to certainly prove an extremely important year for choice signings, as another future United legend was recruited.
Patrice Evra– Signed January 10th 2006 from Monaco for £5,500,000
364 appearances, 9 goals
Evra was well sought after, and despite stiff interest from rivals Liverpool, Arsenal and Italian giants Inter Milan he still signed for United.
Fergie saw them both, Evra and Vidic as “stellar acquisitions”, and although Patrice did not have the best of starts, he soon developed and settled into the first team. At the time Sir Alex described him as, “very strong…he was quick, had superb technique and a strong personality.”
Nowadays, the French winger is certainly a well trusted player for United and often sports the captain’s armband in the absence of regular captain Vidic.
Andy Cole– Signed January 12th 1995- 29th Sept 2001 from Newcastle United for £7,000,000
275 appearances, 121 goals
Andy Cole, one of the most prolific Manchester United strikers of the 90’s was described by Sir Alex as, “always brave as a lion and always gave his best.”
Cole was on occasion a difficult character to deal with, although his partnership with Dwight Yorke was quiet phenomenal, scoring 53 goals between them in the 98/99 season.
Things may have appeared okay on the outside looking in, as Cole’s upfront conglomerate with Teddy Sheringham in the 2000/1 season went from strength to strength. Meanwhile off the pitch Cole had this to say,
“I’m pleased at the way my partnership with Teddy is going on the pitch…but we are still not talking.”
Perhaps Yorke was the only player Cole really clicked with, and after a trial paring with Ruud van Nistelrooy didn’t work, he was sold on to Blackburn Rovers.
Ferguson’s Top 3 Failures
Manucho (Mateus Alberto Contreiras Gonçalves) Signed January 1st2008-August 2009 from Petro Atletico for an undisclosed fee
When Manucho signed for Manchester United in 2008, fans were of the understanding, that like African players such as Eto and Adebayor, this player was bound for big things.
Unfortunately it seemed the Angolan was destined to fail right from the start.
Flanked with UK work permit problems, he was loaned out to Greek club Panathinaikos, before even playing a match for the British side.
Returning to training for the 2008/9 season, Manucho then managed to pick up a metatarsal injury. The unfortunate player managed to participate only twice as a measly sub for United following that injury, and was soon loaned out to Hull and subsequently sold to Spanish side Real Valladolid.
Dong Fangzhuo– Signed January 12th 2004-August 28th 2008 from Chinese side Dalian Shide for £500,000
3 appearances, 0 goals
In 2004 Dong became the first East Asian player to join Manchester United.
Amazingly he was on the teams books for four long years. Due to work permit problems, just like Manucho, it took an astonishing 3 years until Dong made his first official appearance for the club.
During the three year limbo Dong was loaned out to Royal Anytwerp, and when finally called up, played a paltry three games for United without scoring a single goal.
Fangzhuo returned to his previous Chinese club, Dalian Shide in August 2008.
Tony Coton– Signed January 31st 1996-July 18th 1996 from Manchester City for £500,000
Coton had the shortest spell of the three and perhaps the least memorable.
Coton was the understudy goalkeeper to Peter Schmeichel signing for a record fee between the two clubs.
After having a stellar career in Watford, he sadly never played a first team game for Utd, and only made the substitutes bench once. The unfortunate keeper was swiftly sold to Sunderland after 6 months, at a £100,000 loss for the club. He returned to become Goal Keeping coach for the Red Devils, and has since given his opinions on the problems the club has had filling Schmeichel’s boots.
0 appearances, 0 goals
The Chosen One
Juan Mata– Signed January 24th 2014 from Chelsea for £32,000,000
United have so far confirmed only one January signing, in the guise of two time Chelsea player of the year Juan Mata.
The Spanish attacking midfielder was signed on January 24th for a record £32 million.
Could he be the saviour Moyes and United have been waiting for? How will he fit into the team and will he mix well with the likes of Rooney and Van Persie?
At a very testing time for United, all eyes will be on the new signing, what he can bring, and just how will he fit in with the established players and an established set up?
The next few months could decide more then just the manager’s faith….
© Audrey Mulholland 2014