Football Manager: Man United's 8 wonderkids on FM11 & what happened to them

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In 2011, as the Manchester United team won its 19th league title, their youth team was making its mark too, winning the FA Youth Cup.

It came as no surprise then that Football Manager 2011, released in October 2010, hailed no fewer than eight of United’s youngsters as ‘wonderkids’ in the game.

Unsurprisingly, they have all had varying fortunes over the past decade. Taking inspiration from Planet Football, here’s what has happened to them, 10 years down the line.

Paul Pogba

Undoubtedly the most high profile of Football Manager 2011’s wonderkids, Pogba has had a very successful career since leaving United for Juventus in 2012 to seek more playing time.

Cementing his role as one of Juventus’ key midfielders over his four seasons at the club, United bought him back for a club-record £89million in 2016.

Since returning, like many other clubs’ record signings, he has divided opinion about whether his price tag was deserved, and his agent Mino Raiola has often created bother for United managers by speaking about his desire to leave the club.

Recently, Pogba has looked more settled after United’s strong run under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and rumours of him receiving a new contract soon have been circulating.

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Chris Smalling

Smalling joined United from Fulham in 2010 and went on to make 206 appearances for the club. A consistent player at the back, Smalling was criticised by United fans towards the end of his career at the club for his occasional lack of defensive awareness.

Despite this, United fans will look back on his career with them fondly, in particular his goal against fierce rivals Manchester City in a 3-2 comeback win in 2018 to stop City winning the title at the Etihad against United.

In 2019, after falling out of favour under Solskjaer, Smalling was loaned out to Serie A side AS Roma, who he signed for permanently in 2020. He is fast becoming a fan favourite.

Rafael

After joining from Portuguese outfit Fluminense with his twin brother Fabio in 2007, Rafael played 109 times for the Red Devils over seven seasons.

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Rafael had success in the early stages of his United career, being nominated for PFA Young Player of the Year in 2009. After the 2012/13 campaign, Rafael fell out of favour and in 2015 was sold to French side Lyon.

After notching 103 appearances for the French side over five seasons, Rafael, now 30, was sold to newly crowned Turkish champions İstanbul Başakşehir, where he met United in the Champions League group stages this season.

Fabio

Rafael’s brother Fabio had a markedly less successful career at the Red Devils and despite over 50 appearances for the club, including starting in the 2011 Champions League final against Barcelona, he never really cemented his role in the starting XI.

After a loan spell in 2012 to Queens Park Rangers, Fabio was sold to Cardiff City in 2014 where he found more playing time.

Since then he has played two seasons for Middlesbrough and now is a regular starter for lowly French Ligue 1 side Nantes.

Bebe

United fans will look back on the deal to sign Bebe and wonder what was going through the minds of those that signed him.

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Signed in 2010 from Vitória de Guimarães, who he had never played for, by Sir Alex Ferguson, who had never seen him play, Bebe never found his feet at the club. Playing seven times over the course of four years, he eventually moved back to Portugal in 2014.

Bebe has since expressed regret about the trajectory of his United career, admitting that he never really put any effort in for the club.

After a host of clubs in recent years, he can now be found vying for promotion to the Spanish first division with Rayo Vallecano.

Ravel Morrison

If you’ve not heard of Ravel Morrison, the chances are you’ve seen him in a viral video on Twitter or YouTube performing the tricks and flicks he has become synonymous with and that excited the Manchester United youth academy when he was at the club.

Morrison was known for his huge potential and unfortunately is now known for failing to reach that. His career has been marked by off-field issues that have seen him wandering through Europe’s leagues failing to make his mark at any club he’s been on the books of.

Most recently, Morrison was left without a club after terminating his contract with Eredivisie side ADO Den Haag in 2021.

Davide Petrucci

Like many others who arrived with a reputation bearing heavily on their shoulders, Petrucci failed to live up to the hype he arrived with at United.

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The former Roma youth player found his level on loans to Peterborough, Royal Antwerp and Charlton Athletic whilst at United, but failed to make a first-team appearance before being sold to Romanian side Cluj in 2014 after terminating his contract by mutual consent.

Since then, he’s had a nomadic career, playing for Turkish side Çaykur Rizespor and Italian Ascoli before moving to fellow Serie B team Cosenza in 2020 where he is yet to make an appearance.

Federico Macheda

After joining from Lazio’s youth academy in 2007, Macheda became a fan favourite after scoring a famous 93rd-minute winner for United to secure a memorable comeback win against Aston Villa in 2009.

Since then, however, he failed to build upon his momentum at the club, scoring just two more between his famous winner and 2014 when, after a series of loans which produced few goals for the striker, he was sold to Cardiff City.

Since his move, he appeared for Nottingham Forest briefly on loan before being sold to Serie B side Novara in 2016 where he played for two seasons before moving to Greek side Panathinaikos in 2018. Recently he has found his level in Greece and has scored 30 times in his 81 games for the side.

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