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Manchester United’s Most Disappointing XI

By Chris Lappin - You can follow Chris at @vandertodge

This is not a list of Man Utd’s most disappointing players with terms of ability. It’s a list of the disappointing players that arrived for huge money and big expectations, Players that were meant to push the United to another level but didn't quite do it as a Red Devil!


Fabien Barthez

The legacy of a Peter Schmeichel had casted an almighty shadow over Alex Ferguson attempts to replace him but in 2000 Fergie had a light bulb moment, World Cup and European Championship winner Fabien Barthez who was seen as the best goalkeeper in the world.

£7.8 million Later, The French stopper started his four-year spell at the club in which we saw many spectacular saves but some steer arrogance and stubbornness moments from Barthez such against West Ham in the FA Cup in 2001 when Barthez stood with his hand aloft, attempting to coax the referee into stoping play for an alleged offside against Paolo di Canio who then duly stuck in the winner which eliminated the Red Devils.

Ralph Milne

Sir Alex Ferguson has publicly acknowledged Milne to be his worst signing saying "I only paid £170,000 (from Bristol City) but still get condemned for it," and who am I to argue with the great man. After leaving United, Ralph Milne never played professional football again.

At Centre back, the chosen two are Laurent Blanc & William Prunier

Laurent Blanc

The Second World Cup winner I’ve pick for this list, Blanc was seen as a pretty safe transfer when he was signed from Inter Milan in 2001 but poor performances against Bolton, Liverpool, Arsenal, Newcastle and Chelsea (Spelling out his surname) in his opening season were not good omens for the 35 year old. In many united fans eyes, the only mistake Ferguson made was not signing Blanc sooner in his career.

William Prunier

I’ve heard William Prunier decribed as looking like Jaap Stam but playing like Jaap Stam's grandmother! Ha!

After buying himself out his contract with Bordeaux, he joined on a trial basis after being recommended to Alex Ferguson by Eric Cantona. He impressed on his debut against QPR setting up a goal for Andy Cole and hitting the bar with a powerful shot. He then played in a 4-1 defeat at Spurs before leaving the club despite being offered an extended trial.

Quinton Fortune

Not a huge signing but he was pretty exciting when first bought to play as an attacking midfielder, it was quickly found that he didn’t the pace or attribute to play this position in the premier league so was moved to play at left-back.
He was plagued with injuries and managed just the 88 games during his seven year at the club. Despite playing in three Championship winning seasons, he never made enough appearances to merit a winner’s medal.

In the centre of midfield, I’ve gone with yet another World Cup Winner in Kleberson and Juan Sebastian Veron who was a mega star in Italy.


I’ve heard him describe as the World Cup winner who made less of an impact at Old Trafford than David May. Which I feel is a bit harsh on David May but Alex Ferguson should be forgiven for splashing out £6.5 million on Kleberson after Big Phil Scolari declared him the driving force behind Brazil's cup-winning side. The World Cup Winner was injured in his second appearance for the club and made only 20 appearances in two seasons.

Juan Sebastian Veron

His £28.1 million stint as a Red Devils wasn’t a great success. I think he found it hard to adjust to the pace and intensity of the Premier League like many foreign players do. I also found his first touch was not great under pressure which lead to him not having the same amount of time on the ball to pull the strings like he did in Italy. Sir Alex defended Veron passionately (see below) and he did improve somewhat, but eventually he joined Chelsea for around half the price.

Karel Poborsky

Let face it Poborsky was signed for his lob over Vitor Baia during Euro 96! Unsurprisingly, he could not reproduce that form on a regular basis for United and coupled with David Beckham's rising stardom, Poborsky would only manage one-and-a-half seasons before joining Benfica.


Bebe was “recommended” to Alex Ferguson by his former assistant Carlos Queiroz (as a late April fools, Maybe?). He was signed without Sir Alex even seeing a DVD of him play, a gamble that has left Fergie with a slightly redder face as it turns out he actually isn't very good at playing football.

My dynamic duo upfront are Diego Forlan and Gary Birtles who scored an incredable 21 goals in 121 games between them.

Diego Forlan

Before reading on, have a guess how many games it took Forlan to score his first goal?

Go on Guess?

I’ll give you a clue it’s more than 10!!!

I’ll give you another clue it’s more than 15!!!

Don’t look down!!!

Last CLUE –  it’s more than 25!!!

Answer - 27 games, Yes  27 games to score his first goal – and even that was a penalty!!! And after Fergie fought off the mighty Middlesbrough to bring him to the club.

The reason he made on the list is since leaving United in 2004, he was consistently among the goals, scoring for fun in La Liga with Villarreal then Atletico Madrid, and won the European Golden Shoe on two occasions.

However he does hold Cult Hero Status amongst United fans for his double against Liverpool at Anfield in 2002.

Gary Birtles

Birtles ticked all the boxes back in he signed for £1.25 Million back in 1980,
Goal Scorer - Tick
England International - Tick
European cup winner - Tick
League Winner - Tick
Scored in a cup final - Tick

But struggled for goals in Dave Sexton’s side with only 11 goals in 2 seasons as a Red Devils before moving back to Nottingham Forest where he found his scoring touch again!

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