Manchester United: Sir Alex Ferguson's All-Time Worst XI
That's a far cry from when Ferguson's expensive £2.3 million signing Gary Pallister was torched at Maine Road in the 5-1 humiliation via cross-town rivals Manchester City.
World Football Editor Will Tidey has published an excellent article outlining Sir Alex Ferguson's all-time greatest Manchester United first XI.
This article aims to outline the opposite: Ferguson's all-time worst XI.
Goalkeeper: Massimo Taibi
Many people remember Massimo Taibi for making one of the most replayed howlers in football history; even Matt Le Tissier was embarrassed to claim the goal.
Though people shouldn't forget the master class Taibi showed in his Premier League debut against Chelsea.
Chris Sutton must have wished he was playing against Taibi every week; it was the Englishman's only goal in 28 Premier League games.
Taibi was arguably at fault for four of the five goals.
The inept Italian played four games for the Red Devils and conceded 11 goals.
Centre Back: William Prunier
Signed on a short-term loan, William Prunier's start to his Manchester United career was fortuitous with injuries to Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce and David May.
Prunier played well against QPR but was disastrous in a 4-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur.
Sir Alex Ferguson extended the olive branch in offering Prunier a trial-by-trial contract. However, the Frenchman presumably took insult to the offer and left for Copenhagen.
Centre Back: Laurent Blanc
At the time, selling Jaap Stam seemed an economical and pragmatic decision for Sir Alex Ferguson.
However, it turned out to be a costly mistake as Stam's replacement Laurent Blanc was clearly over-the-hill.
Here are just some of the games involving Blanc in the heart of defence: 4-3 win vs. Leeds United; 5-3 win vs. West Ham United; 3-1 loss vs. Arsenal; 5-3 win vs Tottenham Hotspur; 4-3 loss vs. Newcastle United.
Unsurprisingly, Manchester United finished third. Bear in mind, 13th-placed Fulham had a better defensive record than Manchester United.
Centre Back: Jonny Evans
Aside from assaulting Didier Drogba and Stuart Holden, Jonny Evans—for whatever reason—doesn't bring that same aggressiveness to defending.
He is lackadaisical, error-prone, lacks a commanding presence and is a weak link.
Look, when Óscar Cardozo starts turning Evans inside out, surely that spells out that he isn't good enough.
Oh...and there's the small matter of his contributions in the 6-1 mauling at Manchester City.
Right Winger: Bébé
High-profiled agent Jorge Mendes is a genius.
Not only did he push Bébé's original agent Gonçalo Reis out of the picture, but Mendes must have enjoyed a nice cut of the £7.4 million transfer fee, whilst knowing he had swindled Manchester United.
I guess the scout who provided positive feedback about Bébé being a Manchester United-calibre player must have been sacked.
Centre Midfielder: Eric Djemba-Djemba
The irony of Eric Djemba-Djemba's goal against Leeds United was that he miskicked the ball.
I could never understand how Djemba-Djemba—a gift of a name for commentators—was a Manchester United player.
Centre Midfielder: Kléberson
The case of Kléberson is the archetypal example of a player not having the heart to match his talent.
Granted, he should have looked towards his compatriot Ronaldo (the Brazilian one), who overcame the depression of knowing he wasn't going to be the next Pelé and turned his career around to become one of the world's best poachers.
Then again, perhaps the language barrier, the style of the English game, being away from his family and, of course, rehabbing his injury stunted his development.
The transfer made sense because he played well on the FIFA World Cup winning team.
Oh well...Cristiano Ronaldo didn't turn out too bad, did he?
Centre Midfielder: Liam Miller
When Perth Glory had announced it was signing Liam Miller, the local media were quick to emphasise "Not ex-Hibernian midfielder Liam Miller"...but former Manchester United player Liam Miller.
It's as if they're mocking me, because Miller's time at Old Trafford was awful.
He was clearly not good enough to play consistently at Premier League level, let alone for a club of Manchester United's stature.
Darron Gibson reminds me a lot of Miller, but I guess Gibson trains very hard and must be liked by management.
Left Winger: Ralph Milne
I learnt about Ralph Milne in a trivia question when it asked to name who Sir Alex Ferguson had disclosed as his worst signing.
I thought, Oh, that must be Juan Sebastián Verón.
Nope. It was Milne:
"My worst signing? Ralph Milne. I only paid £170,000 but I still get condemned for it."
Forward: David Bellion
David Bellion should have been practicing how to put the ball in the back of the net.
I hope those kids took Bellion's advice with a grain of salt.
The Frenchman couldn't make it at Cannes and was mainly a super sub at Sunderland, yet seemingly unbeknownst to common sense, Manchester United signed Bellion.
Also, he had admitted mentally unfit at Sunderland, so why would United sign someone who didn't have the heart of a champion, let alone the skill to be a Manchester United player.
Forward: Diego Forlán
Diego Forlán has a lot of mental fortitude to come back from the indignation he suffered at Manchester United. Ultimately, he has proven his detractors wrong.
Minus that game against Liverpool, I have no idea why he was so bad at Manchester United, scoring 17 goals in 98 games.
I guess it's like Fernando Torres; once you go on a rotten run, you just keep falling.
This was a very funny anecdote I read a year or so ago:
"Ferguson wanted me to play with long studs, the interchangeable ones that suit wet pitches, but I feel more comfortable in short ones. I agreed to change but I didn't and, against Chelsea, I slipped in front of goal and wasted a chance. Afterwards, I rushed to the dressing room to change boots but Ferguson caught me. He grabbed the boots and threw them. That was my last game for United."
What's your worst Manchester United starting XI?
Do you agree with mine? If not, why?
If you want a more in-depth look at Sir Alex Ferguson, make sure to buy Life with Sir Alex: A Fan's Story of Ferguson's 25 Years at Manchester United.
Please also read The 20 Most Entertaining Premier League Games Ever.