The ones we let go


While we usually talk about the players we’ve bought and who we should look to purchase in the next transfer window, we rarely discuss the players we let go. Every season we release youngsters that go on and make good careers in decent clubs, Bardsley, Shawcross, Gibson and Chris Eagles are good examples on this. We let old players go, like Owen and Berbatov, and sometimes we let superstars like Ronaldo or Nistelrooy leave for a decent amount of cash. This post is going to focus on the players we let go during the summer window 2012, with a couple honorable mentions as a bonus in the end.


During the pre-season, high expectations were made for a lot of the youngsters in our club. Players like Robbie Brady and especially Joshua King made big impacts in the games they featured in, and I think many of us were sad to see them go. Both showed great promise, and even though Brady was pulled down to play as a LB, he did very well for himself. King has always been talked about as the next big thing coming out from Norway. Super quick, he’s strong, he goes for those cheeky dribbles and gets into a lot of scoring positions just by himself. The one thing that has been his problem has been the injury situation. The loan out to Blackburn, followed by a cheap signing (1 mill) seems like a coop. Did Ferguson already know he won’t make it? Did the purchase of Henriquez push King further down in the pecking order? It’s hard for us fans to really make anything of it.


The players we let go


Matthew James, a decent allround midfielder. Was part of the controversial recall from a Preston loan out, that happened when they sacked Darren, Sir Alex’s son. He did quite wellf or himself in the championship, showing as a versatile all-round midfielder with that recognisable English attitude. He is playing regularly for a Leicester currently placed 6th, and is still just 21  years old. I think we’ll see him make the move to the Premier League like a lot of other United youngsters have done after performing well in the championship.


Richie De Laet, the tall guy who looked super quick and exciting, figured as a backup solution for United during his three seasons here. Three games was what he got, and he was part of a package deal to Leicester in the summer, following mentioned above James on a three year contract. Never looked to make it at United, but is a very versatile player able to play in all the defensive positions. I don’t see him as a Premier League quality player, but I think he has the ability to figure as a backup for a bottom half team in the future.


Oliver Norwood never made a first team appearance for United. If I remember correctly, he was the reserve team captain for a while, and he was really good at set-pieces. Norwood  has always looked a decent player, but decent was never enough for us. Eikrem was better,  Cleverley more talented, the youngsters we have coming through now looks just as good or better. That said, he is doing really well for himself in the championship. Allthough Huddersfield are struggling a lot after the sale of their star player Jordan Rhodes, fighting to not get relegated, Norwood is a key player for them in midfield. 36 games this season is proof of that, and that is not too bad for a 22 year old midfield player. He never looked to make the cut at United though.


Tomasz Kuszczak is an interesting case. He was looking to claim the GK spot for Poland for the Euros for a while, and then Sczczczesny at Arsenal found his form in the league. Unlucky to have one of the best keepers in the world ahead of him in Van Der Sar, and with the Purchase of Lindegaard and then De Gea, the road to a spot as the goalkeeper at United seemed impossible. He was an amazing reaction goalkeeper and a decent shot stopper, but made blunders left and right. He was an uncertainty when played, and didnt develop his overall play enough to make it with us.  He is now the main goal keeper for Brighton & Hove Albion that is fighting for promotion to the Premier League, and seems to has gotten his career back on track. I’ll be keeping a watch out for a Kusczcack transfer to a bottom half premier league team for next season.


Park Ji-Sung, our faithful soldier. Always giving 110% in every single game. Essential to our play in away games versus good teams with his high work-rate and ability to score important goals. The South-Korean 32 year old was fantastic at PSV Eindhoven, and the season before we bough him, they had a really impressive run in the champions league. Park was a key figure. For us, he never had the ability to claim the main spot on either right or left wing. 134 games (and 19 goals) in his 7 seasons with us should be proof enough. However, 134 games also tells us that he was an important part of the squad, and Park was a player you could always trust. I think many would agree when I say we wish the best for Park in the future, he really deserves the best. The transfer to QPR came at the right time, but in hindsight it probably was to the wrong club. I hope we’ll get to see him play a couple seasons in the Premier League before he heads back and becomes the president of South-Korea!


Paul Pogba,  has been discussed a lot on the internets for the past couple years. The next Vieira, the next Toure, finally the replacement for Roy Keane.  We offered him a contract he didnt want, we said “sign” and prove that you deserve a higher wage and you’ll get one just like Danny and Cleverley got. He said no. The reason he didnt play was that he refused to sign a contract, and the reason he didnt sign the contract was because he felt he deserved better. Then it turned into a “I don’t get play time!”-type of deal, and now he is doing very well for himself at Juventus. We all know his strengths, and we are all sad to see him do well in Italy. However, think about the effect this could’ve had on the team. We’re United and we have to stay through to our philosophy. Giving in to an unproved 18 year old sends a signal to other talents that we wouldn’t want. On the other hand, was Pogba that special case where we could have made the exception? Probably. It’s going to keep hurting to watch Pogba dominate for France in big games and playing well in the champions league, but I’d rather have a player that WANTS to play for United and respects our way. In the long term, that’s what made us who we are, and that is what defines us.


Dimitar Berbatov was a huge signing for us when he came on from Spurs. One of my favorite players to watch still, even at Fulham. His technique, the arrogance, his eye for goal and smart passes. Berbatov is.. with the lack of a better word, a sexy footballer. Last season, Ferguson decided to put all his chips on Welbeck, and Berbatov suffered. We probably would’ve scored more goals with Dimitar as Rooneys’ partner (considering Welbeck is terrible in front of goal), but in the long term the sale of Berba and playing of Welbeck could benefit us big time. I love seeing him do well for Fulham and I think we all wish Berba all the best. I was sad to see him go, but Van Persie is essentially a better player in terms of numbers and presence on the pitch, so we have not really suffered much from the sale.


Michael Owen, the new number 7 after Ronaldo left. The signing of the scouser was a huge controversy, but Michael gave us many fine moments. With a performance based contract, it turned out to be a smart signing for us. He scored a couple important goals and did not cost us very much. A lot of fans were mad when he was given the number 7, but that’s that really. I love the fact that you can see in the picture. We gave him a league medal. He couldn’t get that elsewhere. RvP is next, allthough he’s contributed a bit more to it! The transfer was worth it alone based on the deciding goal against City. For me atleast! Now it looks like he’s given up on his career at Stoke after just playing 7 games.


Joshua King was talked about in the intro, and the sale shocked a lot of players. We all thought he was going to be involved a bit in the first team after a successful loan at Blackburn. With an awesome name and a very fitting physique, King just needs to get rid of the injury problems. Being norwegian and seeing the impact he has as a sub for the national team, I think we might see king dominating in the premier league in a few seasons. I kind of expect us to have a clause in the sale that we have priority if Blackburn ever was to sell him, and we might see it happen in the future. I do however think Henriquez as atleast as, if not more exciting as Josh.


Robbie Brady was looking to break through with us. Did really well in the pre-season in a new position and had two good seasons on loan at Hull playing regularly at only 19 and 20 years old. He made the debut for the Irish national team and played really well, and the wingers in our squad looked dull from the start of the season. I thought that maybe Robbie would take the chance and fight for a spot with us. Then suddenly he’s sold to Hull for 2 mill. I don’t know why we sold him, but I am guessing Ferguson had a plan all along to sign another winger for the 2013/2014 season? Zaha is coming in and is both better and younger. What Zaha isnt, is a guy who’s gone through the levels of our academy and reserve teams like Brady. That’s one of the main reasons I thought we’d keep him. Seeing as Hull is looking to get a promotion (currently 2nd with 6 points lead on 3rd place Watford), I look forward to see Brady in the Premier League next season.

Honorable mentions from earlier seasonsSome of the players that has really done well for themselves after leaving United. Diego Forlan, Gerard Pique, Guiseppe Rossi, Ryan Shawcross, Phil Neville and Louis Saha has done very well for themselves after being released from United. Diego Forlan got (or was close to) the Golden boot, Pique is an important part of the best team of our time, Barcelona. Guiseppe Rossi was a star at Villareal. Injures have been haunting him throughout his career, but he’s looking to get it back on track at Fiorentina, which is a decent club. Neville, the club captain of Everton, being an important part of a cool team that performs well in the league, year in and year out. Saha.. I wasn’t sure if I should mention him, but his time at Everton was fantastic. 27 goals in 97 games is quite a lot for someone playing as a lone striker. Now he’s at Lazio on the bench just making money and waiting to retire. He was a good player for us, and I am glad to see him do well!


1. Which ex-reds do you wish we had kept?

2. Are there any players at the reserves or in the squad that you can’t see making it with us, but will do well for another club?

3. Who is your favorite ex-red?



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