Manchester United Transfer Rumours: 6 Players Sir Alex Ferguson Should Sell
Few managers boast a transfer record matching that of Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson. Over the years, the wily Scot has uncovered some of the greatest footballing talent in the world.
But even the best of them sometimes get it horribly wrong: for every Cristiano Ronaldo that won the Ballon d'Or, there is a Djemba-Djemba languishing in the obscure depths of the Danish league.
This season, United have faced widespread criticism for not playing the dream football that is an Old Trafford trademark. The blame falls on the new crop of players who were given their chance to shine and, by and large, politely declined to do so.
With Sir Alex explaining recently that "you cannot be sentimental in this job", the presses inevitably went into overdrive, carrying word of a massive clearout this summer.
And we, inevitably, have drummed up a list of awards for those who may be asked to close the door on their way out.
So join us on a brief tour of the United dressing room to speculate which lockers will soon have their contents hurled from the room by an apoplectic Scotsman turning a bright shade of fuchsia...
1. Cristiano Ronaldo Award for "You'll Pay HOW MUCH?!! SOLD!!": Dimitar Berbatov
First off, this is the only controversial name on the list. And before the posts start raining in featuring the plethora of swear words every soccer fan saves for anonymous online forums, hear me out on this one.
The Bulgarian is a great player no doubt. Some—including yours truly—would even go so far as to call him a "misunderstood genius."
However, he is lazy. He is languid, which doesn't fit with United's style. Also, he is lazy. In addition, he is pushing 30. And did I mention that he is lazy?
You never know which Berbatov will walk onto that pitch on any particular day. A prime example is his performance in the FA Cup semi-final between Manchesters United and City. Despite the confidence of a 20-goal season, the Bulgarian missed two point-blank opportunities early in the game.
This seemed to shatter his self-belief so much so that by the end of the match, United fans could have been forgiven for thinking Diego Forlan had dyed his hair black, become a sulky vampire and returned to haunt them.
So despite his 20-goal season, I for one would think twice about declining if Juventus were to offer us £15-20 million.
2. Chris Eagles Award for "Goodbye...See You Never": Mame Biram Diouf
The Senegalese striker arrived in 2009 from Norwegian outfit Molde, better known as the club that gave United fans Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and—by extension—the 1999 Champions League.
He was touted as a strong and pacy striker with an aerial ability to rival that of the Luftwaffe. It was like claiming that a kid named Jeremiah is the next "Son of God" purely because he was born in Bethlehem.
A return of one goal in six games saw him shipped off to Blackburn on loan. It is the kind of goal scoring prowess that saw Chris Eagles shipped off to and relegated with Burnley. And—surprise surprise —Blackburn Rovers can currently be found treading water two points above the relegation zone.
And if Diouf is only used as a bit-part player at a club like Blackburn, he has no business returning to a club with the quality and depth of Manchester United.
Unfortunately, Diouf has turned out to be more Phil than Gary...more Butt than Scholes...more Dong Fangzhuo than Park Ji Sung.
And while he will doubtless go on to have an impressive career, I am certain it will be at a mid-table club at best... hear the bells calling, Aston Villa?
3. The "ET Phone Home" Award: Gabriel Obertan
The much vaunted Frenchman joined United's youth ranks in 2009 amidst much acclaim about his other-worldly talent.
He was even compared to Cristiano Ronaldo at one point, yet United fans can be seen ripping out their hair in clumps whenever the ball finds Obertan. It is even rumoured that playing alongside Obertan is the solitary cause of Wayne Rooney's premature balding.
While the pace and talent is there for all to see, the most frustrating thing is that I don't remember ever seeing Obertan put in a successful cross or shot. And surely, for someone billed as everything from the next Ronaldo to the next Henry, shooting and crossing should be as natural as a Nani dive.
While I'm not willing to give up on him just yet, I do think Sir Alex is.
With Nani roving up and down one flank, Valencia on the other and the possibility of Udinese star Alexis Sanchez and United youth prospect Ravel Morrison joining the first team next season, I believe Ferguson may already have scheduled the mother-ship to pick Obertan up in the summer.
4. The Juan Veron Award for "How Much Did You Pay for That?!!!": Michael Carrick
There is no doubt Carrick is a great passer of the ball. He has the vision and the positional play to conjure up magical moments.
However, at the age of 30 he has yet to find the consistency and reliability that elevates Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard, Cesc Fabregas, Xavi, Iniesta and Xabi Alonso to a level above that of mere mortals.
It is Carrick's inability to dictate a match all the time and every time—as United discovered during the Champions League Final against Barcelona in 2009—that earns him a spot on this list. Oh, and the small matter of the #$@$#^*@*ing £18 million United forked over to Spurs.
One look at the midfield stars at some top clubs - van der Vaart, Lampard, Fabregas, Schweinsteiger, Xavi, Alonso, Carrick. That old ditty comes to mind:
"One of these things...doesn't belong..."
5. Jose Kleberson Award for "Sorry, This Isn't League Four": Bebe
The winger came from Portuguese third division side Vitoria de Guimaraes without Sir Alex Ferguson ever having seen him play.
Needless to say, this raised eyebrows—all the more so considering the £7 million United parted with to acquire him.
To label Bebe's performances thus far as 'shocking' is like labelling the World Wars as "a bit of a scuffle." And judging from his display against Crawley Town in the FA Cup, Emile Heskey will score a hat trick in three successive games before Bebe puts in a decent cross.
In the aftermath of that game, Bebe is one of a few players reported to have been at the wrong end of a Ferguson tirade.
The rumour is that Bebe now jumps sky-high every time someone plugs in a hairdryer.
And while we may never know for sure if I just made that rumour up, we do know that this summer will quite possibly bring the end of "Bebe's Day Out"...
6. The Djemba-Djemba Award for "Successor to WHO?!?!": Darron Gibson
... for failing miserably to cement a place in the United midfield, for getting caught in possession more often than Lindsay Lohan and for teaching all of us United fans that one tremendous volley does not a Paul Scholes make.
7. Honorable Mentions: Jonny Evans, Anderson, Wes Brown, Owen Hargreaves
These players win the dubious honour of a mention simply because they have merited, more often than not, a quick dispatch from the Theatre of Dreams. However, there is still belief (however misguided that may be) that they may turn out to be dark horses.
Jonny Evans: For the sterling displays of last season that he failed to reproduce this season. Evans proved that the emotionally fragile Irishman is not an extinct species when he reportedly burst into tears after coming in for one of Sir Alex Ferguson's notorious hair dryer treatments.
United fans hope Evans ends his quest by successfully locating his lost confidence. Especially if that means we are treated to more tackles like this one (United fans may be amused by the reaction of substitute Nemanja Vidic).
Anderson: The nonsensical displays of yesteryear have been replace by solid, reliable efforts that have seen the Brazilian regularly start when United need a midfield workhorse. The jury is still out on Anderson, but I am willing to see him remain at United and fight for his place.
Wes Brown: There was a time when Brown was rated as one with an England future. Unfortunately, that vision never panned out and with Smalling and Evans ahead of him in the pecking order, Brown may soon experience the dreaded "Cross-The-Pond" form that players like Thierry Henry and Juan Pablo Angel are discovering about.
Recent rumours include a move to Newcastle or Everton but, considering the defensive crises United has experienced over the last two seasons, Sir Alex will probably ask Brown to stay.
Owen Hargreaves: Many United fans live more in hope than expectation of ever seeing Hargreaves play for us. Indeed, the midfielder has spent so much time on the injury table that he might as well claim squatters rights there.
But after fighting through multiple knee surgeries over the last three years, it seems highly unlikely that the Canadian-born midfielder would give up on a comeback. He is currently sidelined with an unrelated hamstring problem he experienced five minutes into his comeback game. But look for him to make a full recovery and gradually work his way back to form next season.
Edit: I watched the United-Everton highlights after writing this article and couldn't help thinking "That's exactly the performance that will keep Anderson at the club!"
So there you have it. In our opinion, Sir Alex would do well to sell some players for the money (see: Berbatov), donate some to charity (see: Diouf), fire some back out to whatever galaxy they came from (see: Obertan) and buy some a one-way ticket to the underworld (see: Bebe).
Disclaimer: Bleacher Report claims no knowledge of Gabriel Obertan being from another galaxy and cannot be certain that Dimitar Berbatov has been offered a role in the latest Twilight movie. Nor can we confirm the rumour that Sir Alex Ferguson keeps Berbatov around solely because of the Bulgarian's prowess at relieving high blood pressure.