Sir Alex Ferguson will go down in history as one of the finest managers to have ever featured in the game. During his 26-year tenure at Manchester United, the Scotsman won a staggering 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two UEFA Champions League titles.
Ferguson was responsible for the signing of many world class players during his time at the club with the likes of Eric Cantona, Peter Schmeichel, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and David de Gea all gracing the Old Trafford turf under his tutelage.
Perhaps Ferguson's biggest achievement in the personnel department was the emergence of 'The Class of 92' - a group of youngsters made up of Phil and Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and David Beckham that formed the backbone of the side that dominated the Premier League in the 1990s.
Although Ferguson continually rebuilt squads to challenge for the league on a consistent basis with some incredible players entering the club, some of his signings left a lot to be desired with a mix of woeful defending, lavish spending and failure to live up to their hype.
We've put together a list of 15 of the worst signings during his Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United era...
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15 15, Karel Poborsky
The long-haired Czech winger was signed after an impressive Euro 96 where he starred alongside Patrik Berger and Pavel Nedved on the way to an unexpected Runners-up medal at the tournament.
Poborsky signed from Slavia Prague in his homeland for £3.5 million but only stayed in Manchester for one-and-a-half years before leaving for Benfica. Undoubtedly talented, the Czech was unable to get an extended run in the first team due to the emergence of United legend David Beckham.
Perhaps it was bad timing on the part of Sir Alex but Poborsky went on to have a good career in Portugal, Italy and his homeland before retiring as the all-time leader in appearances for the Czech Republic national team.
14 Owen Hargreaves
Owen Hargreaves arrived at Old Trafford with a growing reputation as one of the world’s best defensive midfielders after his performances for Bayern Munich and England, but a succession of injuries restricted him from playing time.
The £17 million signing arrived in 2007 and managed to make just 39 appearances in four years before being released on a free transfer.
From United, Hargreaves made the somewhat surprising move across the city to rivals Manchester City much to the frustration of United fans. The midfielder managed just four appearances for City before retiring.
Portuguese forward Bebé joined Manchester United in 2010 for the ridiculous amount of £7.4 million, considering that Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that he had never seen him play before signing him.
Bebé didn't get much of a run with the Red Devils and after being loaned out several times, he left United permanently in July 2014 when he signed for Benfica.
Bebé only managed to feature in seven games (scoring twice) in his four years in Manchester and has to go down as one of Sir Alex’s worst signings during his Old Trafford reign.
12 Juan Sebastian Veron
One of Manchester United’s most expensive signings, Juan Sebastian Veron was expected to achieve big things in England. The £28.1m buy from Lazio in the summer of 2001 failed to adjust to the pace of the Premier League after spending so long in the slower, more defensive Italian Serie A.
The Argentine midfielder scored 11 goals in 82 games before being sold to Chelsea for £15m two years later after signing. Veron’s Chelsea career was even worse with only 14 appearances during an injury-plagued period.
Veron returned to his native Argentina in 2006, where he remained until finishing his playing career with boyhood club Estudiantes.
11 Zoran Tosic
By the time Tosic arrived in Manchester, he was already a full international for Serbia and highly sort after by a host of European clubs. The talented winger signed in a £9 million deal from Partizan Belgrade in January 2009 but was unable to break into the team that featured the likes of Ryan Giggs, Nani, Antonio Valencia, Park Ji-sung and others fighting for his position.
Tosic made just five substitute appearances before being sold to CSKA Moscow via a loan at Cologne, just a year-and-a-half after arriving in England.
The player is still with CSKA and has gone on to develop a reputation for being a free-kick specialist. He's won two Russian Premier Leagues and one Cup during his time in the Russian capital.
10 Jordi Cruyff
Having a legendary father who was widely regarded as one of the best to play the game proved a tough act to follow for Jordi Cryuff.
The Dutchman’s career at Old Trafford was not a successful one, as he failed to establish himself as a first team regular at the club. After permanently leaving United in the summer of 2000, Cruyff returned to Spain and then played in Ukraine and Malta before finally retiring in 2010. Since 2012, Cruyff has been the Director of Sports at Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel with the team winning the Israeli championship three times under his leadership.
9 William Prunier
Although the Frenchman wasn’t a permanent United player, he made two appearances for the team during the festive period of the 1995/96 season.
Having joined United on trial from Bordeaux, Prunier was immediately thrust into first team action after an injury crisis saw Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce and David May all on the doctor’s bench.
The defender’s debut ended with in a 2-1 home win for United, but the Auxerre graduate’s career United career was over after a humiliating 4-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on New Year’s Day.
Although he was offered a trial extension, Prunier declined and returned to France to pursue other offers and eventually ended up with Montpellier.
Manucho signed with Manchester United in late 2007 and was immediately loaned to Panathinaikos due to work permit issues in Britain. The player was a complete unknown after being plucked from the Angolan League in a hugely surprising move.
The Angolan striker had to wait until 23rd September 2008 to make his United competitive debut in a League Cup tie at home to Middlesbrough. He only made two more appearances for the club before a loan move to Hull City and subsequent transfer to Spanish club Real Valladolid.
Manucho stayed with Valladolid for four years with two loan spells in Turkey before signing for current club Rayo Vallecano in 2014. His club are currently 12th in La Liga and the striker is an important part of the first team.
7 Pat McGibbon
Former Northern Ireland international defender signed for Manchester United from Irish Premier League club Portadown in 1992 for £100,000. McGibbon was one of the stars of the United youth team but couldn’t bridge the gap to the first team as he managed just one appearance for the club.
That solitary appearance game in the huge League Cup shock against York City in 1995. Unfortunately for McGibbon and his team-mates, he was sent-off as United crashed out of the cup in a shock 3-0 defeat.
McGibbon played the next two seasons on loan at Swansea and Wigan Athletic respectively before joining the latter in a £250,000 deal in 1997.
A World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002, the midfielder was expected to slot into the Manchester United midfield with ease, filling the hole that was left when Juan Sebastian Veron left to join Chelsea.
The £6.5 million signing proved too lightweight for the Premier League and he made just 30 appearances following before being sold to Besiktas for £2.5m after two years at Old Trafford.
After a couple of years in Turkish football, the Brazilian returned to his homeland where he played until 2013 before moving on loan to the MLS to play for Philadelphia Union.
5 Wilfried Zaha
The skilful winger arrived from Crystal Palace in January 2013 as one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s final signings for a reported £10 million rising to £15 million with performance-related add-ons. He was immediately loaned back to the club until the end of the season when he would move north to Manchester.
Zaha made his Manchester United debut in the 2-0 Community Shield victory over Wigan Athletic and made just three more appearances for the club before being loaned to Cardiff City in January.
A loan spell with Crystal Palace followed which was made into a cut-price permanent transfer on the last day of the transfer window in February 2015. His time at Old Trafford cost the club at least £2.5 million for every game he played.
4 Dong Fangzhuo
Chinese striker Dong Fangzhuo signed for United in January 2004 for an initial fee of £500,000, which could have risen to £3.5 million dependent on appearances for the club. Unable to procure a work permit, he was loaned to feeder club Royal Antwerp in Belgium to gain experience. In his third season with the club, he claimed the Second Division Top Scorer award with 18 goals.
After finally securing a British work permit, Dong made his United debut in 2006 and managed just three appearances in total for the Manchester club.
Skeptics would say that Dong was bought simply as a vehicle to sell shirts in East Asia, but unfortunately for the forward he was never able to replicate his Belgian form and had his contract terminated in 2008 before returning back to Dalian Shide.
3 Massimo Taibi
The Italian stopper was a £4.5m signing from Venezia in 1999 but made just four appearances in his ill-fated English career. In those four games, the Italian conceded eleven goals including a howler when a tame Matt Le Tissier shot bobbled through his legs.
The goalkeeper was offloaded to Reggina in the January of 2000, initially on loan which lead to a permanent £2.5 million transfer in the summer.
Taibi went on to play for Reggina and three other clubs in his homeland before hanging up his gloves in 2009.
2 Ralph Milne
The Scotsman was signed from Third Division Bristol City for £170,000 in November 1988, but the skillful yet inconsistent winger failed to make an impact during his three seasons at the club.
After a promising start, the winger lost his way as a result of a mix of alcohol problems and the form and emergence of Danny Wallace and Lee Sharpe respectively.
Milne failed to make a single appearance in final 18 months at Old Trafford before being released by United and moving to Hong Kong club Sing Tao in 1991. After leaving Manchester, Milne never played a professional game again and quit the game at 32.
Even Sir Alex Ferguson himself admits that Milne was probably the worst signing during his tenure as boss.
1 Eric Djemba-Djemba
Eric Djemba-Djemba was signed for £3.5 million from Nantes in 2003. He was labelled as the ‘new Roy Keane’ but things didn’t go to plan at Old Trafford.
The Cameroonian midfielder made only 39 appearances before moving to Aston Villa in 2005 for a cut-price £1.5 million. During his time in the Midlands, he was declared bankrupt after wasting his fortune, which included the purchase of ten 4x4 vehicles.
After leaving United, Djemba-Djemba has played for nine clubs in eight countries but will always be remembered by the Old Trafford faithful who joke that ‘Djemba-Djemba was so bad, they named him twice’.
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