Sir Alex Ferguson’s final 25 signings as Man United manager - What happened to them?

  • Rob Swan
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Sir Alex Ferguson is undoubtedly the greatest manager of the Premier League era.

In the eyes of many football fans, the former Manchester United boss is the greatest manager of all time.

Ferguson won a remarkable 38 trophies during his glittering 26-year spell at Old Trafford and managed a host of world-class players along the way.

Curiously, Ferguson insisted in his 2015 book ‘Leading’ that he only coached four truly world-class players during his long tenure as United’s manager.

"I don't mean to demean or criticise any of the great or very good footballers who played for me during my 26-year career at United, but there were only four who were world class: [Eric] Cantona, [Ryan] Giggs, [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Paul] Scholes,” the Scot wrote, to the surprise of many.

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But how good were Fergie’s final 25 Man Utd signings before he stunned everyone by announcing his retirement in 2013?

Let’s take a closer look at what happened to them...

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Enter Giveaway

Tomasz Kuszczak

Tomasz Kuszczak was a decent top-level goalkeeper but not quite good enough to occupy United’s No. 1 jersey.

The Pole played 61 games in total for the Red Devils and ended his career in 2019 following four seasons in the Championship with Birmingham City.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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Nani

In hindsight, Nani was probably a little underrated during his seven seasons at Old Trafford.

The winger suffered because people expected him to be as good as his superstar compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo - and that was never going to happen.

That said, Nani still produced some incredible moments for the Red Devils and fans will always remember him fondly.

Now 34, the former Portugal international has spent the past couple of years shining for Orlando City.

Hit or miss: Hit.

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Anderson

Rafael da Silva said in his 2021 book ‘The Sunshine Kids’ that Anderson could have been the world’s best player if it wasn’t for his love for fast food.

“We could be on the team coach and pass the services on the motorway and Anderson would jump up impulsively and yell 'McDonald's, McDonald's.' the Brazilian said of his compatriot and former teammate.

“The guy was crazy, but I love him. Give him a football and he would just play with freedom and sometimes, if he got a good run of games, he could play as well as any player in the league.”

Anderson returned to his native Brazil in 2015, where he suffered relegation with two different clubs, before announcing his retirement in 2019 (aged 31) following a brief stint with Turkish second division side Adana Demirspor.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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Carlos Tevez

United fans loved Carlos Tevez when he played for them and pleaded with Ferguson to sign him on a permanent deal towards the end of the 2008-09 season.

When that didn’t happen, the Argentine made the hugely controversial decision to join rivals Manchester City.

Supporters at Old Trafford subsequently lost all respect for Tevez, who scored 34 goals in 99 games under Fergie.

The South American went on to spend four successful seasons with City before moving on to Juventus, Boca Juniors and Shanghai Shenhua.

Tevez, 37, recently departed Boca after a third spell with the Argentine giants but is looking to resume his career elsewhere.

Hit or miss: Hit.

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Manucho

Signed from Angolan side Petro de Luanda, we’re not sure who advised Ferguson to sign Manucho - but it wasn’t a good decision.

Manucho only made a couple of first-team appearances after it became clear that he wasn’t good enough for United.

He went on to play for the likes of Real Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano before ending his career after a short spell with Spanish club Cornella in 2019.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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Rodrigo Possebon

Ferguson and other United coaches had high hopes for Rodrigo Possebon, who earned rave reviews for his performances with Internacional.

Sadly, the Brazilian midfielder suffered a serious injury during a League Cup clash against Middlesbrough and that one moment totally derailed his promising career.

Possebon left United in 2010 and then disappeared off the radar. The 32-year-old’s final club was Vietnamese club Ho Chi Minh City, where he played briefly in 2018.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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Dimitar Berbatov

What a footballer.

Dimitar Berbatov oozed class and scored 56 goals in 149 games for the Red Devils, winning two Premier League titles in the process.

The Bulgarian went on to play for Fulham, AS Monaco, PAOK and Kerala Blasters before hanging up his silky boots in September 2019.

Hit or miss: Hit.

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Zoran Tosic

A talented winger but, by his own admission, not good enough for Man Utd.

“I was put straight into the first-team squad and the levels were so high that it felt like another sport,” Tosic told The Athletic in 2019.

“It was very heavy for me in those first weeks in Manchester. The ball moved so quickly in training, the quality was top, top, level. Nobody lost the ball. Except me. I was trying my best but it wasn’t enough. This wasn’t the football I knew.

“I thought I could play for United but there was a reason I was not at their level. These players lived the football life at the top. Giggs was 36, Scholes 34. They trained at 200 per cent. They lived football 24 hours. It was a big surprise to me to see them do this, a big lesson. They were on bikes before training and in the gym after."

Tosic, 34, spent most of his career with CSKA Moscow and currently plies his trade with FC Tobol in Kazakhstan.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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Ritchie De Laet

Another player who was unfortunately out of his depth at Man United, Ritchie De Laet made six first-team appearances under Ferguson.

He was, however, part of the Leicester City team that won the Premier League title during the 2015-16 season.

The Belgian defender returned to his first professional club, Royal Antwerp, in 2019.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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Antonio Valencia

A player who gave his all every time he pulled on the famous red shirt, Antonio Valencia went on to become Manchester United captain during Jose Mourinho’s spell in charge.

He left Old Trafford after 10 years in 2019, signing for Ecuadorian outfit L.D.U Quito, where he spent two seasons.

The 35-year-old announced his retirement in May 2021 following a stint with Mexican club Queretaro.

Hit or miss: Hit.

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Gabriel Obertan

Signed as a potential long-term replacement for Ronaldo in 2009, Gabriel Obertan failed to justify the hype at the Theatre of Dreams.

The French winger scored one goal in 28 games for United before joining Newcastle in 2011.

Obertan went on to play for Anzhi Makhachkala, Wigan Athletic, Levski Sofia and Erzurumspor, where the 32-year-old has been playing since 2019.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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Mame Biram Diouf

Mame Biram Diouf managed to score one goal in nine appearances for Man Utd but the Senegal international didn’t possess the tools required to become a regular with the Premier League giants.

He went on to score a further 23 Premier League goals with Stoke City before moving on to Turkish side Hatayspor in 2020.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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Javier Hernandez

Javier Hernandez was superb for Man Utd up until Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, scoring 50 goals in three seasons.

But neither David Moyes nor Louis van Gaal were big fans of the livewire striker, who went on to play for Real Madrid (on loan), Bayer Leverkusen, West Ham and Sevilla.

Chicharito, 33, is currently banging in the goals in Major League Soccer with LA Galaxy.

Hit or miss: Hit.

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Chris Smalling

Chris Smalling had more good games than bad for the Red Devils, although the centre-back did struggle with consistency.

The former England international joined AS Roma on loan during the 2019-20 season and loved it so much there that he completed a permanent move last year.

Hit or miss: Hit.

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Bebe

One of the most infamous signings of Ferguson’s United tenure, Bebe (an £8 million purchase from Vitoria de Guimaraes) surprisingly managed to score two goals in seven games for the Red Devils.

The one-time Homeless World Cup participant actually turned out to be a half-decent footballer, playing plenty of games in La Liga with Eibar and Rayo Vallecano, where the 31-year-old still features now.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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Anders Lindegaard

It feels a bit harsh describing Anders Lindegaard as a ‘Miss’ rather than a ‘Hit’ because the Denmark international was a decent enough goalkeeper who challenged David de Gea for the No. 1 jersey at one point.

But he was good rather than great and it was no surprise that he ended up moving to West Brom in 2015.

Lindegaard, 37, now plays for Swedish outfit Helsingborg.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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Ashley Young

United fans had a love-hate relationship with Ashley Young, who was a good pro but didn’t always deliver on the pitch.

By the end of his nine-year stay at Old Trafford, though, supporters wished him all the best for the future and they appreciate what he gave the club.

The 36-year-old won the Serie A title with Inter Milan in 2020-21 and is now back at Aston Villa.

Hit or miss: Hit.

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Phil Jones

It’s still hard to believe that Ferguson genuinely said of Phil Jones: "Arguably, the way he is looking, he could be Manchester United's best ever player."

However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Jones *did* look a class act during his early days at Old Trafford and maybe he could have become a great had Fergie stayed longer.

Injuries have blighted Jones’ career but the 29-year-old somehow remains on United’s payroll.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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David de Gea

United’s second-best Premier League goalkeeper behind the legendary Peter Schmeichel, David de Gea deserves to be remembered as one of Ferguson’s best signings.

The Spaniard hasn’t always been at his world-class best over the past three years but let’s not forget that he won United’s Player of the Year award four times in the post-Ferguson era.

Man Utd would have conceded *a lot* more goals under Moyes, Van Gaal and Mourinho without De Gea in between the sticks.

Hit or miss: Hit.

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Nick Powell

Another player who may have flourished at Old Trafford had Ferguson stayed beyond 2013, Nick Powell has spent most of his career playing in the Championship with Wigan Athletic and Stoke City.

The 27-year-old scored one goal in nine appearances at United.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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Shinji Kagawa

Man Utd fans were desperate for the talented Shinji Kagawa to become a Premier League star, but it never quite happened for the Japan international. His highlight was a hat-trick against Norwich City.

Kagawa returned to Borussia Dortmund, where he spent a further five seasons, scoring 31 goals in 145 games.

The 32-year-old now plays for Greek side PAOK.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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Angelo Henriquez

It sounded like United had signed a potential goalscoring phenomenon when they snapped up Angelo Henriquez from Universidad de Chile in 2012.

The Chilean forward, however, failed to play a single first-team match at Old Trafford.

Henriquez, 27, currently plies his trade with Fortaleza in Brazil.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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Robin van Persie

Ferguson’s last major signing was one of his greatest: Robin van Persie was United’s star man during the 2012-13 campaign, netting 30 goals in 48 games.

Without the former Arsenal star, Ferguson may not have won the Premier League title that season - that’s how incredible he was.

Van Persie spent another two seasons at Old Trafford before joining Fenerbahce in 2015. He then returned to Feyenoord two years later before announcing his retirement.

The Dutchman currently works as a coach at Feyenoord and has also worked as a pundit for BT Sport.

Hit or miss: Hit.

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Alexander Buttner

A tenacious left-back who has a Premier League winners’ medal in his collection, Alexander Buttner was very fortunate to play for a club as big as Manchester United.

The Dutchman moved on to Dynamo Moscow in 2014 and currently turns out for Dutch side RKC Waalwijk.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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Wilfried Zaha

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Wilfried Zaha, who signed for Man Utd in January 2013 believing he was about to develop under one of the greatest managers of all time.

But by the time he arrived at Old Trafford (following a six-month loan spell back at Crystal Palace) Moyes was in charge after Ferguson announced his retirement.

Zaha was never given a fair crack of the whip under Moyes and ended up returning to Crystal Palace in 2014.

One of the Premier League’s best attacking players, the Ivory Coast international is now hoping that another top club attempts to sign him.

Hit or miss: Miss.

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