The stories of the players that United missed out on through the years are legendary. From passing on youth players to failing to sign full blown stars I have always found them interesting so here are a couple of the best.
Michael Essien‘s flirtations with Manchester United are well fabled, back in 2005 the man labelled as ‘The Bison’ said:
“I had always dreamed of playing in Europe and, as a boy, my team were Manchester United. When they offered me a one-week trial I just couldn’t believe it, I was so happy. I remember being there and thinking ‘Wow, this is the biggest club in the world’. My biggest hero was Roy Keane. I just loved the way he used to play, his attitude and commitment. I still try to play like him now and maybe people compare us as I play a similar holding role in midfield as he used to. At the end of the trial, the club said they really liked me and wanted to sign me. But they could not sort out a work permit and the move never happened.”
But this was 2005 when United was in transition and the money of Chelsea was a massive lure so the Ghanaian despite his own self professed love of the club ended up in London where he has shone.
Yet there is more! A couple of weeks ago the midfielder added this to the story:
“I had two trials at United, but I was seen as too small. I think Sir Alex was looking for a certain type of player and I wasn’t the one then.”
Irony at its finest as Essien’s all action powerful displays have become his trademark! On a personal note I would love him here, quality player and we are currently lacking his kind of bite in the midfield.
Alan Shearer was a quality striker. Strong as an ox, good in the air as well as with both feet I feel he is vastly under rated by those talking about the finest strikers the game has produced and it is no wonder Sir Alex tried to sign him, twice. When we first came knocking in 1992 Shearer was knocking them in at Southampton where his performances saw him called up to the England squad. It is often alluded to that Shearer took the money and ran in joining Jack Walker’s Blackburn (where he won his only career silverware the Premiership in 1995) ahead of us as we just missed out to Leeds in the league but it would not be the last time we missed out on him.
As his days at Ewood Park were coming to an end Sir Alex again tried to sign the Geordie striker, and a strong Euro 96 tournament strengthened his resolve. Things had changed since our last attempt, as we were coming off our second league and cup double in 3 seasons and it looked like he would finally sign for us. Guess again! Shearer opted to sign for his hometown club of Newcastle for a record £15m where he remained until he retired in 2006.
As they say every cloud has a silver lining, when we missed out on him the first time we in turn signed Eric Cantona and the second time we signed an unknown Norwegian named Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, not bad at all! As an extra kick from when we first tried to sign him up until his retirement he won just the Premier League whilst I would be here all day trying to list what we won.
Last season when Arjen Robben scored that sensational volley to put us out of the Champions League there was a collective sigh as we all thought of what could have been. In essence Robben was ours. Having first made contact under Kenyon in the summer of 2003, he visited Old Trafford with his father and both agreed Old Trafford was the place for him for the 04/05 season. The transfer was as good as done but we low balled PSV with a £5m offer when they had verbally agreed a deal for £10m.
The insult prompted the legendary response from PSV chief Harry Van Raaij who claimed the most the derisory bid would get was a shirt with Robben’s autograph.
Seeing the hitch Chelsea now with Kenyon in their employment and knowing the intricacies of United’s deal swooped with a £12m offer and the rest is as they say history. In his first season at Stamford Bridge he and Damien Duff ran the wings majestically as Chelsea won the league and although injury has really blighted him, when on form as he showed last season he is a joy to behold. Could you imagine him on the left with Ronaldo on the right? A fullback’s nightmare!
Click here to see who else makes the list and the stories behind their failure to join United.