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20 Manchester United Players You've Probably Forgotten

Dan TalintyreSenior Analyst IISeptember 17, 2013

20 Manchester United Players You've Probably Forgotten

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    Manchester United's history is filled with world-class players. Sir Bobby Charlton, Bryan Robson, Ryan Giggs—the list could go on and on for days.

    However, as much as United's history is filled with top-class and well-remembered players, it's also got a number of players who weren't quite as impressive.

    In fact, there's a number of Red Devils who many fans will simply forget about—and for good reason.

    Let's take a look at some of the more forgotten United players.

    Before we do, note that the likes of the man so bad they named him twice (Eric Djemba-Djemba) and others aren't on this list. They might have been hopeless, but they aren't forgotten. Unfortunately.

Ryan Shawcross (2006-2008)

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    Currently plying his trade as Stoke City's defensive enforcer, Ryan Shawcross was in fact a previous Manchester United player from 2006 to 2008.

    A regular feature in the reserve side, Shawcross only made two senior appearances for the Red Devils—both of which came as a substitute. He then went on loan in 2007 to Stoke City, who chose to make his loan move a permanent one in 2008 for a £2 million fee.

Giuseppe Rossi (2004-2006)

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    Giuseppe Rossi scored a wonderful goal against Sunderland in 2005.

    And that was about it.

    He was loaned out to Newcastle United the year after that (expecting to return with first-team chances at Old Trafford), and then went on loan to Parma in 2007. Spanish club Villarreal picked him up from then, where he made over 130 appearances and scored over 50 goals, before making the switch back to Italy to play for Fiorentina in the January window earlier this year.

Massimo Taibi (1999-2000)

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    Ahhh, Massimo Taibi.

    Some may remember his horrendous error against Southampton, but few will remember his name. And given that he only made a handful of appearances for the Red Devils following this error, that's understandable.

    Clearly the Premier League didn't bring the best out of Taibi.

     

Peter Beardsley (1982-1983)

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    Liverpool and Newcastle United legend Peter Beardsley certainly isn't forgotten by Premier League fans—making over 750 appearances in total throughout a remarkable career.

    What is probably forgotten, is that at one point, Beardsley was a United player.

    In 2012, Ron Atkinson paid £250,000 to bring him in, gave him one first-team appearance against AFC Bournemouth in the League Cup, and then shipped him back to Vancouver on a free transfer in 1983.

    Clearly not one of the highlights of his career.

Zoran Tosic (2009-2010)

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    Amusing fact about Zoran Tosic: he once came on for Cristiano Ronaldo as a 72nd minute substitute when United played Tottenham Hotspur in 2009 in the FA Cup.

    Just think about that for a minute.

    At some point in his career, a manager opted to bring Tosic on and take Ronaldo off. Clearly one of Ferguson's more notable achievements in his career.

    Tosic only played two senior matches for United.

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (2004-2006)

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    Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is one of the lesser-known products of Manchester United's illustrious academy.

    The striker made an appearance against Crewe Alexandra in the League Cup in 2004, and followed that up with another appearance against Barnet in the League Cup, in which he scored his only goal for United.

    Those appearances, though, were close to 12 months apart, and he would not feature for United again—shipped off on loan to Royal Antwerp in January of 2006.

Dong Fangzhuo (2004-2008)

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    Dong Fangzhuo was the first East-Asian player to sign for Manchester United. However, he never really got the chance to show what he could do for the Red Devils.

    Ineligible for a work-permit, Fangzhuo couldn't play for the senior team, and was sent out on loan to Belgium. After Sir Alex Ferguson remarked that he "has the speed and physicality and his technique is improving all the time" (per BBC Sport), Fangzhuo officially obtained his work-permit in December of 2006, and went on to make a couple of appearances for the Red Devils.

    He even replaced Wayne Rooney in a Champions League game once.

    But that was about it—he was let go by the club in 2008.

Jose Kleberson (2003-2005)

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    After a scintillating 2002 World Cup campaign, Kleberson was brought to Manchester United in the hope that he could be a long-term replacement for Juan Sebastian Veron.

    He wasn't.

    20-odd appearances later, United decided to cut their losses with the Brazilian—selling him to Turkish club Besitkas for less than half the fee that they originally paid for him.

     

Jordi Cruyff (1996-2000)

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    The man with the legendary father—Johan Cruyff—spent over 50 games at Manchester United. He was part of the squad that won the treble in 1999. And yet few remember he was ever at Old Trafford.

    Some Cruyff trivia?

    His debut game came when United beat Wimbledon 3-0 in 1996. Yes, that Wimbledon game.

Ralph Milne (1988-1991)

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    You know your career at Manchester United wasn't all that great when the most reputable manager of all-time (Sir Alex Ferguson) dubs you as his worst ever signing.

    "My worst signing?" Fergie said via The Guardian.

    "Ralph Milne. I only paid £170,000 but I still get condemned for it."

    Milne was a legend at Dundee United, but never translated that success into a strong career at Old Trafford—leaving on a free transfer at the end of the 1991 season.

Danny Pugh (2002-2004)

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    Having made over 200 appearances throughout several clubs in the lower tiers of English football, it's easy to forget that a player like Danny Pugh once started at United.

    A product of the Red Devils' youth academy, Pugh made just seven appearances in total for the Red Devils before leaving to Leeds United in a part exchange for Alan Smith.

    Smith would go on to make over 150 Premier League appearances for United and Newcastle United; Pugh would be sent to Preston North End just two years later.

Danny Simpson (2006-2010)

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    Queens Park Rangers' defender Danny Simpson might be known as a former Newcastle United player. He might even be known as a former Blackburn Rovers, Ipswich Town or Sunderland player.

    But in all of them, he was actually a former Manchester United player.

    Signed from United's youth academy in 2006, Smith made a handful of appearances for the club before being sent out on loan to second division Belgian club Royal Antwerp in the January window later that year. From there, he simply became the go-to loan player for several other clubs.

    And that's where the likes of Newcastle and Sunderland come in.

    Simpson's loan moves include: Royal Antwerp (2006-07), Sunderland (2007), Ipswich Town (2008), Blackburn Rovers (2008-09) and Newcastle (2009-10).

    The Magpies then signed him permanently for a fee worth less than £1 million in the January window of 2010, where he would make over 100 appearances in total.

Kieran Richardson (2002-2007)

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    Kieran Richardson is the epitome of a forgotten footballer at Manchester United. For despite playing over 40 appearances for the club—including Premier League, Champions League and League Cup games—the left-sided player never really gets remembered as a United player.

    After all, this is an eight-time England international we're talking about.

    This is a player who won three trophies at United.

    Richardson struggled to secure a place in United's starting team for five years, and opted to take the offer to move to Sunderland in 2007 when Ferguson not-so-subtly suggested that the winger belonged in United's reserve team. The Black Cats paid United £5.5 million for Richardson, and would then sell him five years later to Fulham for less than half of that fee.

Danny Higginbotham (1997-2000)

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    Danny Higginbotham has made over 25 appearances for Royal Antwerp.

    He's played over 85 games for Derby County, over 90 games for Southampton, and over 100 games for Stoke City. In total, he's played close to 400 domestic league matches for various clubs, and one them—somewhat surprisingly—was none other than Manchester United.

    A youth academy product, Higginbotham came into the United squad in 1997. He was then sent on loan to Royal Antwerp, where he was found guilty for attacking a referee (per Independent). Safe to say he never quite lived up to expectations as the "next Denis Irwin".

     

Ritchie De Laet (2009-2012)

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    Ritchie De Laet's memorable career at United can be summed up in one anecdote.

    Despite an injury crisis striking United's defense in December of 2010 (leaving Ferguson with few options at the back), the veteran manager still chose to play an injured Michael Carrick out of position instead of De Laet—who played his entire career as a defender.

    De Laet made six appearances in total for United before leaving officially in 2012.

Gabriel Obertan (2009-2011)

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    With Cristiano Ronaldo leaving the club in 2009, Manchester United needed to try and add a new winger into their squad who would help replace the void of the Portuguese star.

    Enter Gabriel Obertan.

    And then exit.

    Obertan came to United from Bordeaux in 2009 with plenty of promise (having made a slew of French international caps for the junior sides), but never lived up the expectations surrounding him. He was soon sold to Newcastle United just two years into his four-year deal.

    He played 28 games for the Red Devils.

Mame Biram Diouf (2009-2012)

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    Diouf said in the lead-up to his eventual move to Manchester United that "I hope that when I move in January, I will have a big impact, I am confident of playing well".

    Oh, the irony of that statement now.

    Diouf took over the No. 32 jersey worn by Carlos Tevez in 2010, but certainly didn't live up to the billing of his predecessor. In fact, he scored more goals on either of his loan spells throughout his United career than he did actually playing for the Red Devils (scoring just twice for United).

    He now plays for Hannover 96.

Jonathan Spector (2004-2005)

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    Jonathan Spector made over 100 appearances for West Ham United, and is well on his way to achieving a similar number with his current club Birmingham City.

    But few remember that he actually started out as a United boy.

    United poached the American in 2003 from the Chicago Fire, but he never got the time he wanted at United. In total, the striker-turned-defender made just eight appearances.

    A forgotten man indeed.

Derek Brazil (1988-1990)

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    Yes, Derek Brazil did play for United.

    Twice.

    Clearly everyone has indeed forgotten about the Ireland international because, currently, this insightful Twitter account has more followers than the former Manchester United "star".

    That's a shame, because he has some heartwarming advice to share as well.

     

    I must tell all the kids who I coach , remember kids if Milner , walker can be international footballers ..yur dream will always be alive .

    — Derek brazil (@Dbrazil5) September 10, 2013

     

Shinji Kagawa (2012-Present)

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    One last forgotten Manchester United player: Shinji Kagwa.

    Yes, he does still play for United. Last seen explaining to David Moyes just how many minutes he's featured for Manchester United so far this season.

    Sorry, couldn't help myself.

     

    Hit me up on Twitter for more sports goodness:   

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