Five Manchester United players who should have made it but didn’t – Dominic Booth
There have been a few false dawns at Manchester United in recent years.
Not least the number of players who have threatened to announce themselves as the ‘next big thing’, only to fall by the wayside. Old Trafford has heralded several of them in recent years. Many had the talent, most enjoyed a few moments in the sun, but none of the below are still at United.
Here are five players who really ought to have made it at the club, but for myriad reasons, didn’t…
Most United fans could probably recite every word of Martin Tyler’s commentary of that Macheda goal against Aston Villa in April 2009. The17-year-old’s debut at United turned the Roy of the Rovers comic books into real life, as the Italian striker swivelled in the penalty box and curled home a winner that helped United seal the Premier League title.
Having been signed as a 16-year-old from Lazio and after scoring on his second United appearance against Sunderland as well, there were high hopes for Macheda.
But he only scored two more United goals after that golden period and, following his release in May 2014, he’s lived a nomadic existence since. Before he left permanently, there were loan spells with Sampdoria, QPR and Birmingham, among others. Cardiff, Nottingham Forest and Panathinaikos have been among the destinations since then. And Macheda is still only 28.
The only positive from the David Moyes season? Januzaj’s rise was certainly out of the blue and gave hope to a United campaign that was otherwise hopeless.
The Reds had snaffled the Belgian winger from Anderlecht as a 16-year-old and it didn’t take long for him to make a serious mark in the first team. Moyes felt compelled to throw him into the first team from the off, as Januzaj came off the bench in the Community Shield final against Wigan, though it wasn’t until a sensational brace at Sunderland in October that fans started to become really excited by Januzaj.
Yet after Moyes’ sacking, Januzaj didn’t progress as many had hoped. He ended up playing 63 games for United in all competitions and scoring five goals, but the fact he went on loan to Borussia Dortmund and didn’t start a single league game told its own story.
Another tale of what might have been, he’s now with Real Sociedad.
Most United fans have heard the stories: “Better than Pogba” said many; “the best player” in the United academy side that lifted the 2011 Youth Cup, said others.
And it’s true that Morrison had a fair share of admirers in his time at Old Trafford, not least Sir Alex Ferguson who had high hopes for the Wythenshawe-born academy product.
Morrison was handed his first team United debut aged 17 in a League Cup tie against Wolves but made only two more substitute appearances for the Reds (also in the cup) before Fergie allowed his contract to expire. Off-field issues were cited as the reason behind the release and continued to plague the midfielder in the years after his United departure.
He’s now back in the Premier League with Sheffield United — having travelled from the Championship, to Serie A, to Mexico, to Sweden in the intervening years.
Wilson, like Macheda, enjoyed that fairytale beginning to his United career that many youngsters can only dream of.
It came at the end of that difficult Moyes season for United, when Ryan Giggs had taken temporary charge of the team and thrust the young striker into his team for the Reds’ season finale against Hull City — and Wilson struck two goals in a 3-1 win.
It was a performance that would give many supporters hope that Wilson was the coming man, although his path to the first team was blocked the following summer when Radamel Falcao arrived. Wilson would score just one more league goal for United, despite remaining with the club until the summer just gone.
He’s now back at Aberdeen, where he spent last season out on loan, though has rarely been prolific at any of his loan clubs.
The frustrating thing with Rossi for United fans was that he actually proved himself — just not during his time at Old Trafford.
There was plenty of hype about him when United poached the 17-year-old striker from Parma in 2004, but game-time was always hard to come by for the Italian. He scored four times in all competitions in 2005/06, before a loan move to Newcastle yielded no league goals in 2006/07.
Rossi left and eventually made a name for himself as a fairly prolific striker for Villarreal and then Fiorentina, though a number of serious injuries held his career back and he’s never quite fulfilled his potential.