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20 Mar 2018 20:03:03
Lots of questions about how SAF got on when he first joined so I had a quick look back at his signings to see how many were great and how many were less than great. It’s interesting reading for anyone not old enough to have been there.

Goalies were a thorn in his side. Jim Leighton came in and was initially solid before losing his confidence, not helped by being dropped for the FA Cup replay of 1990. Les Sealey came in and did a job, he was a character but was never in the top echelon. Then came Big Pete, a giant amongst keepers and still the best I have ever seen. His departure was like when SAF retired, he was a nightmare to replace and there was a comedy of errors before we sorted it out. Van der Gouw was a solid number 2 but we also had Taibi, and Barthez and Bosnich, and Carroll, and Howard, some were ok, Taibi was pants but none of them inspired confidence. VDS arrived and steadied the ship but he was our 6th keeper post Schmeichel before we got a top class stopper.

I’m not going to go in the same detail for other positions but it is worth pulling some out. In terms of ones that didn’t work out, flops if you like, well the list is pretty long. Take your pick from Djemba Djemba (so bad they named him twice), Kleberson (a World Cup winner), Bellion, Blanc (signed 10 years
too late), Poborsky (because he chipped Schmeichel in a tournament), and of course, the incredible Bebe, which to this day remains a very expensive mystery. There are many more that were seen briefly before disappearing.

However, the flops are outweighed by the astute and clever signings. His second signing was Brian McClair, a top man and a great servant, followed by Steve Bruce, the best player never to be capped by England. His fifth signing was Lee Sharpe, a 17 year old from Torquay who was incredible for us, quickly followed by Mark Hughes. Interestingly, the four of them were signed early in his reign and were integral to the future success.

Then it was about finding the others who could complete the team. In ‘89 Pallister and Ince were signed followed by Irwin in ‘90 and the team was starting to take shape.

The major signing for me was Schmeichs in ‘91. I remember standing in the Stretford End watching him warm up. He was enormous and dominating and he scared the crap out of me. However, whilst the team was doing ok and winning cups the League remained elusive. We lost the League to Leeds in ‘92 playing away to Liverpool - I was at Anfield that day and it was horrible. The following season saw a stuttering start until November when we signed Eric Cantona. He turned up his collar, stuck out his chest and said “I have found my home”. He was the oil that made the engine run smoothly: he came, he saw, he conquered.

After that, we continued to see both good and bad signings. Players like Yorke, Vidic, Ferdinand, and Evra proved inspired but there were as many flops who didn’t work out signed during that time.

What does that tell us? It suggests that signing payers can be something of a lottery. Veron was signed from Italy and despite being an incredible player didn’t really work out. Yorke was signed from Villa and whilst most of us thought he was ok he was incredible for us for a couple of seasons.

A final word to a player who has become a legend. He didn’t always play, he never complained, he could always be relied on to score. I remember him coming on a sub when we were leading 4-1 away to Forest and scoring 4 goals in about 20 minutes. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Agree16 Disagree0

20 Mar 2018 20:36:08
I remember meeting Schmeichel in a news agents in Poynton. I swear he was twice my size and I'm 6 foot. His hands were like digger buckets but the amusing thing was his wife was tiny.

20 Mar 2018 20:38:55
Great post AJH thank you as I am one of the younger posters who was not around in the early 90s or pre Fergie era. My earliest memory is the 99 treble year at the age of 5 years old and my favourite player for a long time was Ruud in the early 2000s. The player two players I wish I got to see live were Cantona and Bryan Robson. My old man idolises Robbo and says he is exactly what we are missing today. I think on the whole sir alex’s Signings were astute as you say and something that stands out to me is that they were not household world class names when they joined us. But they grew into amazing players. One of my favourite signings in the last 10 or so years was henrikh Larson. What a player and he came up with some important goals.

20 Mar 2018 20:46:12
Good post pal.

20 Mar 2018 20:55:28
Bryan Robson, what a player. He was incredible and it’s such a shame he played in an era when we were not great. He was the archetypal Captain Fantastic, he broke his leg 3 times (before he joined us) and dislocated his shoulder at least twice whilst he was with us. He could rough it with the best, but he was also class.

SAF kept him despite his drinking as he trained like an animal and it never affected his performances. He was still there in ‘93 albeit not as a first choice and he raised the Premiership trophy with Brucie when we finally won it. Robson is a United legend in the truest meaning of the word. I rate him higher than Keane, it was a privilege to see him in the flesh. Google FA Cup semi final vs Arsenal in ‘83, he and Whiteside scored screamers to see Arsenal off 2-1.

20 Mar 2018 21:06:05
The baby faced assassin! could always rely on him to get you a goal.
Great memories
Good post mate!

20 Mar 2018 21:24:26
When SAF first became manager the league was comprised predominately of British talent, with a few northern Europeans thrown in. The mangers and owners were also British. Match day revenue was the main source of income. As a result English football was completely different in every way to the way it is today. With a few exceptions, like Ronaldo and Van Nistelrooy, once the market for talent became global, it seems to me that SAF's recruitments started to wane . He will obviously go down as possibly the best manager ever for his accomplishments at Aberdeen and then United, but perhaps he was of his time. I wonder whether he would have achieved as much in today's environment.

20 Mar 2018 21:51:47
I think that’s a tad harsh Shawthing, signing overseas players already playing in England is one thing, signing overseas players from overseas clubs in a another thing completely. SAF signed a few duffers from overseas but he also signed some super players. Vidic, Evra, Solskjaer, Johnsen, Stam, Fortune, Silvestre, Ji-Sung Park, were all signed from overseas. I think it is always a risk, it was then and it is now. All in all SAF did ok.

20 Mar 2018 22:43:45
Solsjear was amazing. I wish the players show as much passion as him.

21 Mar 2018 02:43:30
Ajh I've played with Robson 3 times in united legends matches here in ireland. My fav united player of all time. My lad has his boots he gave us after one of the games.
A gent and full of stories.
On the 1st occasion i was warming up and was beside Ray wilkins. I asked Him who was captain for the day as wilkins also captained united and England. He turned and looked at me as if i had 3 heads and said. 'There is only one skipper here mate the skipper is the skipper of course '😆.

{Ed0333's Note - Great post Ken. I love these type of anecdotes. If you’ll permit me to waste some of your time with one of mine. Me and my mate were in Dubai at the time when Houllier and Thommo we’re managing Liverpool. We’re on a desert safari belly dancing by a log fire and all I see In the dark is some guy belly dancing whose attached to biggest nose I’ve ever seen in my life. My mate whose a west ham fan says that’s Phil Thompson and I’m like no way he’s at home trying to figure out a way to win us the Premiership (actually thinking about it, it may have been the summer of 2002 because I watched the World Cup final in Dubai) Low and behold on closer inspection it’s Thommo with his family on holiday. So I’m trying to act all cool like but dying to speak to him. I’m edging closer and closer like and I get close enough to pounce. Banged his ears for 10 minutes because I didn’t want to go full on stalk. Suffice to say he was a lovely guy, took pics with us, introduced us to his family. My mate was made up because he met someone who actually had a bigger nose than him. Oh yeh I forgot to mention at the time there was intense INTERNET speculation we were signing Zidane and I asked Thommo if it was true which was highly embarrassing for me should I say. Anyway thanks for your time and I’ll leave you lot alone now.

21 Mar 2018 05:48:38

I can give you a similar story. In 1990 I stayed at a very nice hotel in Rhodes, Olympic Palace I think, one of the guests I met was La Toya Jackson with two enormous bodyguards. However, the hotel had a football game in its games area, my sort of thing back then and I beat a couple of challengers. Then along comes Ronnie Whelan of Liverpool, who wanted to play, we played and chatted, really nice friendly guy. Played him several times after that, can’t remember who won.

{Ed0333's Note - Your story beats mine Red Man. You had Latoya Jackson and Ronnie Whelan in the same story. Did Ronnie tell you tales of the great Manc Norman Whiteside? Who incidentally was on the same chiropady course as my mate in Southampton University apparently the fella could drink lol.

21 Mar 2018 05:57:41
Ken 👍👍👍.

21 Mar 2018 06:36:17

What a wonderful experience to actually play with those legends, something to remember for ever.

21 Mar 2018 10:42:07
Great stories guys, mine is a bit more recent though, Michael Essien and I attended the same College (St. Augustine's College) He has always been a jovial lad but a beast on the field when playing for the school team. Always took it easy with us during internal fun games though, and when a mate runs past him with a ball he had a smile on his face as if to say 'you know I let you go"

21 Mar 2018 10:54:42
Done it a gew times redman also got to play with zidane and beckham scholes paul waksh sharpe and many others in the 02 in london. At a charity event beckham was running.
I got booked in the semi final of that tournament for fighting with ray parlour. It was just after his very public divorce where his wife got a ground breaking settlement of a huge percentage of all his future earnings. Paul durkin was the ref. he fouled me and was getting booked. I said to durkin . ah don't book him he is only angry because his wife has all his money. he went mental😆😆😆 he creamed me in the next tackle fairly it has to be said. I tried not to show the pain at the time but f me i felt it for days. After they won the match on pens he made a bee line for me i thought he was going to flatten me. But he stuck out his hand and said ' hard luck irish fella. what's said on pitch stays on the pitch'
Great day that was. It was on sky too. Tim lovejoy was there doing interviews etc for soccer am.
Ed0333 its nice to hear a story like that. Most of the old school guys are really nice when you play or meet them. Not like many of today's generation i wouldn't bother trying to talk to them.

21 Mar 2018 12:57:16
I remember, must have been 88, so I would have been 6. I would often go to games with my dad via the Portland Hotel, who offered VIP packages to some of their residents. We were in a lounge with cakes and champagne waiting for Fergie to come give a post-match speech. I told my dad I was going to the toilet and seeing as I was there for a while, he got worried, and walked in to find me sat on the bog with Gordon Strachan and Martin Edwards crouched in front of me. All I remember is them asking me who my favourite player was and me replying Strachan not having recognised the player I was talking too, probably because I'd only ever seen them kitted, not suited, up.

My dad has some good stories of the time, drinking and clubbing with some of the players. He also speaks a lot of the drink culture and how Fergie put a stop to it.

21 Mar 2018 13:23:52
what a great thread guys. This is why i love this site.

21 Mar 2018 16:36:40
Wow amazing stories guys. Some of you have been very lucky to meet those stars. 👌👌👌.



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