Manchester United: Most Frustrating XI of the Premier League Era

Max TowleAnalyst IFebruary 7, 2013

Manchester United: Most Frustrating XI of the Premier League Era

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    Old Trafford has seen the development and emergence of many true superstars over the years.

    In the Premier League era, many youngsters have reached their true potential at Manchester United, while more experienced players have come in and changed the team dynamic for the better.

    Yet no club can be perfect. There will always be the odd signing or youth team graduate who infuriates the fans as much he thrills them.

    These footballers had talent, but struggled to reach a consistent peak during their careers.

    Here is a starting XI of the Red Devils' most frustrating players in the Premier League era.

    As always, this list is intended to spark debate rather than end it.

Fabien Barthez

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    Time at United: 2000-2004

    Frustrating because: of his perfect fusion of genius and lunacy in goal for the Red Devils.

    From bizarre pre-match rituals to nonsensical decision-making during games, Fabien Barthez goes down as one of the most eccentric footballers in the history of the game.

    The Frenchman was eventually dumped by Sir Alex Ferguson when the Scotsman ran out of patience with his £7.8 million signing.

Patrice Evra

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    Time at United: 2006-present

    Frustrating because: of his more recent descent into becoming a regular defensive liability to his team.

    Excellent in his first few seasons at Old Trafford, but perhaps Manchester United's biggest weak spot in the past four or five seasons, Patrice Evra's legacy will be a mixed one when he finally leaves the historic club.

    It must be said, though, that the French full-back is currently in the midst of a renaissance season for the Red Devils, becoming one of the side's most potent threats down the left flank.

Mikael Silvestre

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    Time at United: 1999-2008

    Frustrating because: though he remained at Old Trafford for the best part of his career, Mikael Silvestre's Old Trafford career failed to maintain consistent peaks.

    He had spells in the first team where he delivered quality performances, but mistakes bad enough to make you cringe were often not too far away.

    Nasty injuries ruined what should have been his best days as a player, the worst being cruciate ligament damage that kept him sidelined for the majority of the 2007/08 season.

Laurent Blanc

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    Time at United: 2001-2003

    Frustrating because: he was never able to replicate the excellent performances that typified the majority of his earlier career, while at United.

    Sir Alex had tried to sign the Frenchman several times before 2001, but when he did, the player that arrived was a shadow of his former self.

    Was it a coincidence that the first letters of the first five teams the Red Devils lost to in the 2001/02 season (Bolton, Liverpool, Arsenal, Newcastle and Chelsea) spelt out the name BLANC?

Wes Brown

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    Time at United: 1996-2011

    Frustrating because: consistent injury problems saw him fail to develop into the player he should have been.

    When he first broke into the United first team in the late-'90s, Wes Brown was hailed as a prodigy set to become a mainstay in years to come.

    But injuries saw him only able to play more than 30 games in a single term once during his career—the 2007/08 season during which the Red Devils won both the Premier League and Champions League.

Lee Sharpe

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    Time at United: 1988-1996

    Frustrating because: a wild lifestyle saw him fail to reach the heights that were expected of him.

    Injuries can also be blamed for the stunted growth of Lee Sharpe during his early 20s, but a surfeit of alcohol and partying was most likely the primary cause.

    The emergence of one Ryan Giggs on the left wing also made Sir Alex's decision to let Sharpe go in 1996 all the more easy.

Jordi Cruyff

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    Time at United: 1996-2000

    Frustrating because: sometimes a famous name doesn't always make a player famous.

    Though certainly a versatile player, Jordi Cruyff was rarely able to impress for Sir Alex's side, wherever he played on the pitch.

    Those who hoped he'd come close to replicating the genius of his father, Johan, were quickly left disappointed after his £1.4 million transfer from Barcelona in 1996 turned bust.

Karel Poborsky

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    Time at United: 1996-1998

    Frustrating because: he flopped completely after a raft of publicity and expectation greeted his signing for the Red Devils after Euro 1996.

    Karel Poborsky had moments of magic for United, but considering the hype and foreign glamour that surrounded him beforehand, he can only be considered a complete letdown.

    He was far more consistent for the Czech national team, though—he remains the all-time appearance leader for his home nation.


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    Time at United: 2007-present

    Frustrating because: he is clearly a talented footballer but has extended periods where United are lucky to get one decent cross out of him per game.

    The last time Manchester United won the Premier League title (2010/11 season), Nani was arguably the side's most consistent player.

    Since then, though, the Portuguese winger has gradually descended into heartbreaking mediocrity, and it is rather surprising that he has not yet been sold.

Dion Dublin

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    Time at United: 1992-1994

    Frustrating because: less than a month after signing for £1 million, a significant sum in 1992, he suffered a broken leg in a game against Crystal Palace.

    Having failed in his pursuit of Alan Shearer, Sir Alex turned to English striker Dion Dublin to lead his line in the first Premier League season.

    The one bright spot for United fans, though, was the fact that his injury saw the Red Devils sign Eric Cantona and the rest, as they say, is history.

Diego Forlan

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    Time at United: 2001-2004

    Frustrating because: bad luck and a serious profligacy in front of goal meant United missed out on a clearly talented player at his best.

    A £6.9 million signing few had previously heard of, Diego Forlan only succeeded in making a name for himself as a wasteful finisher in his first few months at Old Trafford.

    The Uruguayan forward scored some important goals for Sir Alex's side in the 2002/03 season, but he couldn't shake his reputation before making what proved a successful switch to Villarreal in 2004.


    Who else do you think is deserving of a place in Man Utd's most frustrating XI?