Manchester United Letdowns: Ranking the 20 Worst Red Devils of All Time

Kevin HoughContributor IMarch 28, 2011

Manchester United Letdowns: Ranking the 20 Worst Red Devils of All Time

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 15:  Sir Alex Ferguson manager of United during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Manchester United and Marseille at Old Trafford on March 15, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Ge
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    A Manchester United player.

    It evokes images of heroic performances, last minute tackles, barnstorming goals, biology defying saves, all in the name of accumulating a vast collection of glory, medals and riches.

    Not every player who has pulled on the famous red jersey has achieved all those feats though. In fact, some never accomplished any of them.

    Through a mixture of poor transfers and injury crises forcing the manager's hand, United have fielded several players who haven’t even approached the standard required.

    For every Cristiano Ronaldo, there’s been a Ricardo. For every Roy Keane, a Kleberson.

    But who are the worst players to line out for Manchester United?

    In the interests of fairness, we’ll omit the current squad and give them the chance to alter their legacy, but unfortunately for these 20, they have no such luxury.

20. Diego Forlan

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    PHILADELPHIA - JULY 28: Diego Forlan #21 of Manchester United in action against Celtic during the ChampionsWorld Series game July 28, 2004 in Philadelphia, United States. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    His career has blossomed since, but Diego Forlan endured a disastrous spell at Manchester United.

    Taking 19 games to find the net, he scored just 10 goals in 63 league games with only his work rate and victorious brace against Liverpool preventing him from inclusion further up this list.

19. Michael Clegg

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    30 Jul 2000:  Michael Clegg of Manchester United in action during the Pre-Season Friendly match against Shrewsbury Town at Gay Meadow, in Shrewsbury, England. Manchester United won the match 8-1. \ Mandatory Credit: Ben Radford /Allsport
    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    The Academy graduate made just nine league appearances in his seven-year stint in the first team squad.

    Subsequently moved down to the old Division Two with Oldham before retiring through injury at 27, Michael Clegg never looked a defender of United standard.

18. Roy Carroll

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    10 Feb 2002:  Roy Carroll of Manchester United in action during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match against Charlton Athletic played at The Valley, in London. Manchester United won the match 2-0. DIGITAL IMAGE. \ Mandatory Credit: Phil Cole/Getty Images
    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    One of the myriad of goalkeepers signed in the early part of the last decade, Roy Carroll managed to assert himself in the first team for the 2004-2005 season.

    It happened to be his last for the club, as he failed to convince Alex Fergsuon of his long term worth. 

    He will however, be forever imbebbed in football folklore for his part in Pedro Mendes goal that never was.

17. Alan Smith

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    LONDON - MAY 09:  Alan Smith of Manchester United stretches for the ball during the Barclays Premiership match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on May 9, 2007 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Signed as a striker, Sir Alex got tired of Alan Smith's wayward shooting and found a new home for him the centre of United’s midfield.

    A nasty injury sustained against Liverpool curtailed his career for seven months, and he failed to fully re-establish himself in the side, moving to Newcastle in 2007.

16. David May

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    2 Nov 1999:  David May of Manchester United and Ivica Vastic of Sturm Graz in action during the UEFA Champions League Group D Match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. Manchester United won 2-1 to top the group. \ Mandatory Credit: Ross Kinnaird /Alls
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    From looking back at the photographs of Manchester United celebrating their historic treble in 1999, you’d be forgiven for thinking David May was an integral part of the side.

    He wasn’t.

    Originally purchased to boost home grown numbers in the squad, May never really looked a player of United standard in his nine years at Old Trafford.

15. Mark Bosnich

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    15 Jul 1999:  Mark Bosnich, #1 and new goalkeeper for Manchester United, during the match between Manchester United and the Australian Socceroos, played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Manchester won 2 - 0. Mandatory Credi
    Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

    The original answer to the quandary left by Schmeichel’s departure, Mark Bosnich never impressed during his time at United.

    His first season featured an easy Premier League win, but Sir Alex decided to recruit Fabien Barthez for the following campaign and Bosnich found himself demoted to third choice goalkeeper. 

14. Karel Poborsky

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    10 Dec 1997:  Karel Poborsky of Manchester United skips over the challenge of Moreno Torricelli of Juventus during the UEFA Champions League match at the Stadio Delle Alpi in Turin, Italy. Juventus won 1-0 to qualify for the quarter-finals. \ Mandatory Cr
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    The Czech winger was purchased on the back of his exciting Euro '96 displays.

    He was allowed several opportunities to impress but failed to fully convince of his merits and was moved on two years after joining.

13. Luke Chadwick

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    27  Apr 2002:  Luke Chadwick of United gets past Sixto Peralta of Ipswich during the Barclaycard F.A. Premiership match between Ipswich Town v Manchester United at Portman Road, Ipswich.  DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    After an encouraging start, Luke Chadwick was given ample time to try and establish himself in the first team.

    He failed to reproduce anything like his initial form and was moved on to the lower leagues, where he has spent the entirety of his career since.

12. Quinton Fortune

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    LONDON - AUGUST 15:  Quinton Fortune of Manchester United in action during the Barclays Premiership match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on August 15, 2004 in London. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    After being purchased as cover for Ryan Giggs in 1999, he spent seven years at Manchester United occupying a number of positions.

    Yet despite his versatility and determination, the South African never really looked the part at United and was released in 2006.

11. Jordi Cryuff

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    24 Apr 2000:  Frank Leboeuf of Chelsea challenges Jordi Cruyff of Manchester United during the FA Carling Premiership game between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester. The game ended 3-2 to Manchester United. \ Mandatory Credit: Cl
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Along with Poborsky, United signed the young Dutchman after an impressive Euro '96 campaign

    He failed to establish himself in the United side and made just 34 league appearances in his four seasons at Old Trafford.

10. Kleberson

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    TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 28: Kleberson of Manchester United in action during a friendly game between Manchester United and Kashima Antlers at National Stadium on July 28, 2005 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)
    Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

    One of the best midfielders of the 2002 World Cup, the Brazilian was unable to replicate that form at Old Trafford.

    An injury stricken two years saw him make just 20 league appearances, and he was sold to Besiktas in 2005.

9. Rodrigo Possebon

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    SOUTHAMPTON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 04:  Rodrigo Possebon of Manchester United in action during the FA Cup Sponsored by E.on 3rd Round  match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium on January 4, 2009 in Southampton, England.  (Ph
    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    Signed in January of 2008, the Brazilian born midfielder found himself exposed to the first team at the start of the following season.

    Three appearances later, United decided he needed some experience elsewhere to aid his development.

    He failed to play a single league game at Braga during his loan spell and was sold to Santos, for whom he’s played just three times since his move last summer.

8. Ricardo

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    LOS ANGELES - JULY 27:  Portrait of Ricardo of Manchester United taken before the USA Tour match between Club America and Manchester United held on July 27, 2003 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, in Los Angeles, California. Manchester United won the match 3-1.
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Signed for £1.5 million in 2002, the Spanish goalkeeper was entrusted with just one league start.

    He didn’t take long to show why, conceding a penalty with his first touch.

    His underwhelming spell ended in 2005 with a move to Osasuna.

7. Manucho

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    MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 15:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United celebrates  scoring his team's fifth goal with team mate Manucho during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Stoke City at Old Trafford on Novembe
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    After impressing on a three-week trial, the Angolan was signed by the club in 2008.

    Following a loan spell at Panathinaikos, he made his United debut in a victory over Stoke, setting up a goal for Danny Welbeck.

    It was to be his last appearance for the club, and he was sold to Valladolid in 2009. 

6. Liam Miller

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21:  Liam Miller of Manchester United in action during the FA Barclays Premiership match between Manchester United and Norwich City at Old Trafford on August 21, 2004 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Gary M.Prior/Getty Image
    Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

    After a sterling Champions League campaign in the Celtic engine room, Sir Alex Fergsuon acquired the services of Liam Miller on a Bosman deal.

    His Cork roots drew comparisons with Roy Keane and perhaps added to the pressure heaped on the young midfielder.

    Nine league appearances in two years was as much as he managed, and little from his subsequent spells at Sunderland, Ipswich and Hibernian has reaffirmed Ferguson's original convictions.

5. David Bellion

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    PHILADELPHIA - JULY 28:  A portrait of David Bellion of Manchester United prior to the Champions World Series game at Lincoln Financial Field on July 28, 2004 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    He was quick and French, but unfortunately "the new Thierry Henry" didn’t share many other attributes with his illustrious compatriot.

    His signing caused furrowed brows after a less than enamouring 20 games at Sunderland.

    He made just four more for United before returning to his native land.

4. Dong Fangzhou

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    ROME - DECEMBER 12:  Fangzhuo Dong (L) of Manchester United and Philippe Mexes (R) of Roma battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League match between AS Roma and Manchester United at the Olympic Stadium on December 12, 2007, in Rome, Italy.  (Phot
    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    The cynics argued the signing of this young Chinese striker was merely a means of building United’s fan base and increasing merchandise sales in the vast Asian market.

    Purchased for an original fee of £500,000, Dong was loaned to United’s feeder club Royal Antwerp to qualify for a work permit and to gain experience. His 33 goals in 61 games prompted Ferguson to include him against Chelsea for his only appearance for the Red Devils in May 2007.

    He left the following season and remarkably, has never scored since.

3. Eric Djemba Djemba

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    LONDON - AUGUST 15:  Eric Djemba-Djemba of Manchester United in action during the Barclays Premiership match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on August 15, 2004 in London. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    Yet another attempt to replace Roy Keane’s aging legs, this effort was probably the worst.

    Never once during his 20 league appearances did he look capable of replicating the legendary Irish man’s achievements, and he was sold to Aston Villa within two years of his arrival.

    Further spells at Burnley, in Qatar and in Denmark outline the summation of his talent.  

2. Massimo Taibi.

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    18 Sep 1999:  Massimo Taibi of Manchester United in action the FA Carling Premiership match between Manchester United and Wimbledon, after winning Manager of the Month award, at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. The game ended ina 1-1 draw. \ Mandatory
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    A magnificent debut against Liverpool was soon forgotten as Taibi’s spell as United turned into slapstick.

    His subsequent games featured an oft replayed gaffe that allowed Matt Le Tisier’s harmless shot to squirm between his legs and a 5-0 defeat to Chelsea.

    Taibi was sold back to Italy, with his four appearances costing United £2 million.

1. William Prunier

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    30 DEC 1995:  WILLIAM PRUNIER IN ACTION FOR MANCHESTER UNITED AGAINST QPR DURING THE PREMIER LEAGUE MATCH AT OLD TRAFFORD. MANCHESTER UNITED WON 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Mark Thompson/ALLSPORT
    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Signed a trial basis in 1994, a defensive injujry crisis meant he was rushed into the first team.

    His second and final outing was at the heart of a defence which conceded four goals to Tottenham Hotspur.

    It was a short but infamous spell, and Prunier has gone down as the worst Manchester United player in history. 

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