Where Did It Go Wrong for Bebe at Manchester United?

Rob Dawson@@RobDawsonMENManchester United CorrespondentApril 16, 2014


One day, he'll be a quiz question.

"What have these footballers all got in common: Raul, Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Bebe?"*

Unfortunately for the Portuguese winger, that will almost certainly be the extent of his legacy in English football. Quiz questions—maybe not even ones as nice as that—and bar-room debates about the worst players ever to play for Manchester United.

Bebe's contract at Old Trafford will come to an end this summer. He won't get a new one.

His four years at United will have yielded just seven appearances and two goals. Even Sir Alex Ferguson would have to admit there are better ways to spend £7.4 million.

Bebe's story is as remarkable as it is well-known.

Tim Hales

Playing in the European Street Football Festival in 2009, a year later he was being unveiled as United's latest signing. He arrived the same summer as Javier Hernandez. And cost more.

At the time, it was hard to believe. Now it makes no sense whatsoever.

Ferguson insisted in his autobiography that he had beaten off competition from Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho to sign Bebe in 2010.

Bebe is the only player I signed without seeing him in action.

This boy had been playing homeless football and became a triallist for a second division team. 

Then Real Madrid were on his tail. I know that's true because Jose Mourinho told me Real were ready to sign him and that United jumped in front of them. We took a wee bit of a gamble.

You can almost imagine Mourinho in a mountain-top lair, stroking a white cat and laughing. It's that hard to believe that a team who spent more than £130 million on Ronaldo and Kaka the previous summer would have contemplated spending more than £7 million on Bebe.

But right until the end, Ferguson, again writing in his autobiography, remained adamant he could have been a success.

He came with limitations but there was talent there. 

He was not the complete player but we were coaching him to be better. He had fantastic feet. With feet like that he was capable of scoring 20 goals a season.

Those who saw him play for United will be less than convinced. 

It's a shame because Bebe's rags-to-riches story deserved a better ending. Had it been made into a film, he would have scored the winner in the Champions League final.

Maybe that will come later. Maybe, but probably not.

Joao Filipe Santos

Amazingly, there is still a chance the 23-year-old will get an opportunity on the biggest stage of all this summer.

On loan at Pacos Ferreira in Portugal's top flight, he's scored nine goals in his last 13 games. It has led Portugal coach Paulo Bento to acknowledge he is in his thoughts ahead of the World Cup.

But not even a starring role in Brazil is likely to save his United career. 

That will be consigned to history this summer where it will take its place alongside those of Ralph Milne, Massimo Taibi and Dong Fangzhou.

Paulo Duarte

There should, however, be no blame attached to Bebe. 

He was presented with an offer very few would turn down. But he wasn't good enough to play for United. Or, at least, he wasn't ready to show he was good enough.

There will be few tears shed by United fans when he finally leaves this summer. Perhaps just a tinge of sadness that the romance of his move to Old Trafford wasn't played out until the end.

He will, though, always be remembered. Even if it isn't for the right reasons.

*Answer: They've all scored in the Champions League.