Picking an All-Time Worst Chelsea-Manchester United XI Since 2000
We know all about the great players who have passed through Chelsea and Manchester United's doors since the turn of the century.
Blues fans can boast the likes of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba as being among their greatest, while United can rival that with players such as Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo.
That said, somewhere in footballing hell, there is a game being played out where the mistakes of both clubs continue to haunt them.
For all their success stories, like most clubs Chelsea and Manchester United have a long list of players who have failed to make the grade for one reason or another.
Some of them have come with massive transfer fees; others have come with a sign emblazoned across them with fans asking what their club was thinking!
Both clubs face each other this weekend in a game that was once a top-of-the-table clash; although, it's more akin to a mid-table scrap this season.
Given their problems this term, it got us thinking: Are things actually that bad at Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford? Surely both clubs have had worse times in the recent past.
Well, in the spirit of that, Bleacher Report brings you an all-time worst Chelsea-Manchester United XI since 2000.
So remember Chelsea and United fans, it could be worse—you could be cheering on this lot every week!
NB: As ever, lists of this nature are subjective. Our combined XI only takes into account performances while at the club, so successes elsewhere are not considered.
It's not pushing it to suggest there hasn't been a worse goalkeeper in the Premier League, let alone at Manchester United.
Massimo Taibi's brief spell between the sticks for United was a travesty. He only played four games for the Red Devils, but those matches still produced enough comical errors to fill a lengthy highlights reel.
The most famous of the lot was when Taibi allowed a weak shot from Southampton's Matt Le Tissier to slip through his grasp and trickle over the line in a 3-3 draw at Old Trafford.
Taibi was also in goal when Chelsea thrashed United 5-0 at Stamford Bridge in October 1999, just a few weeks after that Southampton draw.
Sir Alex Ferguson had seen enough after that and never played Taibi in goal again.
The Italian left the club on loan at the end of the season, which means that he just qualifies for our worst XI by default.
So, given this worst Chelsea-United XI is somewhat unconventional in its abject failure across the board, we're opting for an equally poor formation. We're playing a 3-5-1-1 that allows us to pack out the midfield with some infamous names, meaning just three defenders.
Manchester United have been rather efficient with their back line these past 16 years, whereas Chelsea have recorded some forgettable mistakes that don't come much bigger than the three we've selected.
Just the mere mention of his name must give football chairmen sleepless nights. Winston Bogarde was—and remains—the symbol for how poor transfer planning can haunt a club.
Signed from Barcelona in August 2000 without the knowledge of then-Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli, the Dutchman's four years in west London started as they meant to go on.
Vialli didn't want him, and when Claudio Ranieri replaced Vialli just a few weeks later, the new Blues manager didn't want Bogarde, either.
The only problem was that the defender had been given a rather lucrative contract, and Chelsea struggled to sell him on. Rather than leave the club, Bogarde happily sat it out and remained at Chelsea until 2004, playing just nine times in the league.
Another Dutchman to haunt Chelsea since 2000 is Khalid Boulahrouz.
When Jose Mourinho claimed to have signed a new No. 9 in 2006, few expected it to be a defender. That Boulahrouz would don the shirt number made famous at Stamford Bridge by Peter Osgood became a big joke (it was one of the few available squad numbers at the time).
Boulahrouz's performances for Chelsea were no laughing matter, of course. He made just 13 Premier League appearances for the club, managing to pick up five cautions and a red card in the process.
The Israeli defender faced Chelsea this season with Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the Champions League. He managed to do his former employers a favour, too, when he got sent off against them.
Ben-Haim did few favours for the Blues while in a Chelsea shirt, though. If he was ever feeling charitable, it was the opposition who often benefited.
The sight of Fernando Torres accelerating past Ben-Haim to score his first Liverpool goal in August 2007 was indicative of what would come for him at Stamford Bridge. Strikers would often leave him in their wake, and for a club that was attempting to regain their status as champions of England, he was never going to be good enough.
The fact he's remembered more for a training-ground collision when he injured Petr Cech tells us everything we need to know about Ben-Haim's Chelsea career.
It's because of players like Kleberson that Brazilians would get such a hard time of it in English football. It's only since the success of players such as Willian and others in more recent times that signing a Samba Boy isn't met with scepticism.
Kleberson arrived to much fanfare at United in 2003, signed for £6.5 million.
The issue was that Kleberson was a World Cup winner with Brazil and had been seen as a large part of their 2002 success. It meant big things were expected, but he delivered little.
Injuries didn't help and Kleberson struggled to hold down a regular first-team spot.
He left Old Trafford after two disappointing seasons.
Another former Chelsea player to face the club this season, Slavisa Jokanovic was manager of the same Maccabi Tel-Aviv side that Tal Ben-Haim represented.
That's not all those two have in common, either. Much like Ben-Haim, Jokanovic was a big disappointment at Stamford Bridge.
When he joined the club, Chelsea fans had been spoiled with the likes of Gianfranco Zola and Gus Poyet producing the goods from midfield positions.
So when Jokanovic arrived, pedestrian and laboured, he frustrated. His policy of sideways passing often slowed down attacks, and he became a symbol of the struggles Chelsea were going through financially when the club put the handbrake on their transfer dealings as financial Armageddon loomed.
The joke was that Eric Djemba-Djemba was so good his parents named him twice. Let's flip that on its head and say he was that bad he was named twice.
Coming into a side that had dominated the Premier League for the 1990s, Djemba-Djemba was competing with players such as Roy Keane. Quite what Sir Alex Ferguson saw in him remains a mystery, as he stood out for all the wrong reasons.
Alongside Paul Scholes and David Beckham, he was shown to be out of his depth at United. He lasted just 18 months before being sold to Doha-based Qatar SC.
Angel Di Maria
The Argentinian should never make a list of this nature given his vast talents. The fact he does just outlines what a disappointment he was in a Manchester United shirt.
Signed for a British-record fee of £59.7 million, he just didn't deliver on what we had seen of him at Real Madrid.
Whether it was a failure to settle in England or adapt to English football, something wasn't right with Di Maria. After a bright start, he faded into the background at Old Trafford and soon became a very expensive mistake.
That he is producing the goods now with Paris Saint-Germain only serves to add to the frustration of how bad he was in the Premier League.
Dubbed as the Italian Ryan Giggs by Gianluca Vialli—a factor that adds to his inclusion in our combined Chelsea-United XI—Gabriel Ambrosetti was doomed from day one.
We were expecting the effervescent displays that Giggs became synonymous with during his career. Chelsea fans wanted to see Ambrosetti exposing opposition defenders and running them ragged.
He did none of that. In fact, he did zilch in a Chelsea shirt. He was a massive disappointment and failed to deliver anything like his billing.
Juan Sebastian Veron
We'll leave Chelsea and Manchester United fans to argue among themselves as to who Juan Sebastian Veron was worse for.
The Argentinian played for both clubs. He joined United from Lazio in 2001 with a huge reputation. He had spearheaded the Italian club's success and was widely seen as one of the best midfielders in Europe.
That United splashed out £28.1 million for Veron was seen as good business just reinforces the reputation he had.
Veron flopped spectacularly at Old Trafford. He looked nothing like the player who had been terrorising opponents in Serie A, and he became a huge symbol of failure.
It took Roman Abramovich buying Chelsea in the summer of 2003 for United to get some of that investment back as the Blues paid £15 million for him.
Veron was unable to resurrect his career at Chelsea, despite having the honour of scoring the first goal of the Abramovich era against Liverpool on the opening day of the season.
The sad fact is that both Chelsea and United would have probably got more from the training-ground dummies in the picture above than they did from Veron.
Leading the line of our failures is Uruguay striker Diego Forlan.
Atletico Madrid fans will be asking why, as he remains a legend at the Vicente Calderon Stadium after his exploits there during a four-year spell.
Forlan also restored his reputation at Villareal, the club he joined from Manchester United in 2004.
At Old Trafford, however, Forlan failed to be any sort of influence on Sir Alex Ferguson's side.
He joined the club in January 2002, meaning he was never given time to adjust to the English game. He was thrown in at the deep end and never quite his head above water.
Up to that point, he had spent his entire career in South America, making a name for himself with Argentinian club Independiente.
He was far from goal-shy there, averaging close to a goal every other game. He was just 22 when he arrived in England, and the culture shock added to his youth meant he couldn't adjust in time.
It was only when he left that we saw the best of him.
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