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What were we thinking?! - The “Dodged a Bullet” Manchester United XI

Our writers choose an XI made up of players that we thought would’ve been brilliant signings for United. We were embarrassingly wrong in each case.

West Ham United v Manchester United
At least two of us thought that this man was the “next Roy Keane.”
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In just a few short months, the transfer season will upon us yet again, and United fans everywhere will have the chance to swear that Player X will be the perfect signing, no question. Here at The Busby Babe, your writing team knows better than to rush to extol the virtues of individual players, and to gush over those players ideal fit in the United team.

We’ve been burned before, and badly. In years gone by, we have been convinced that certain players would have been brilliant at United, and been gutted when those players ended up elsewhere. In many of those case, we have have been terribly wrong. Let Jack Sargeant, Andi Thomas, and Brent Maximin walk you through their biggest transfer regrets. Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Jussi Jääskeläinen

Jussi Jääskeläinen, a man well-endowed in both umlauts and reflexes, quickly established himself as Bolton Wanderers' No. 1 in the late nineties, and went on to make over 500 appearances for the club in 15 years. United were once upon a time reportedly sniffing around the Finn, who's still turning out for Wigan, but Edwin van der Sar was probably the better purchase. - JS

Kieran Gibbs

Weird one, this. Definitely remembering thinking United should throw scads of money at Arsenal, genuinely can't remember why. Patrice Evra was firmly established at United by the time Gibbs emerged, and anybody who doubts Evra is a fool and a scoundrel. Maybe we wanted him out on the wing? Or as some kind of extravagant back-up? - AT

Johnathan Woodgate

“When fit, Johnathan Woodgate is the classiest defender in England. He and Rio Ferdinand could be the center back partnership for United and England for the next ten years!” As it happens, the “when fit” bit turned out to be important. Yikes. - BM

Pascal Chimbonda

I was sure that Chimbonda was the future of United’s right-back spot, but as it turns out he wasn’t even the future of that position for Sunderland. Made the team of the season playing for Wigan, then - as tends to happen - went to Spurs and got sussed out as being bang average. - BM

Thomas Gravesen

Everton v Bolton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

At least we weren't alone on this one. Everton's hair-averse midfielder was coveted not just by your humble correspondent but by that fine institution of sensible scouting, Real Madrid. They bought him; he wasn't particularly good. We can only assume that the snarl and the skinhead made him look more intimidating than he was. - AT

Nigel Reo-Coker

Admitting to having thought Nigel Reo-Coker was "the natural heir to Roy Keane" in a safe and trusting environment like this is one thing. Doing it by text message, at the time, was far more risky. Fortunately, it's not like anybody's so-called friend would laugh themselves sick, then keep the ancient text message and the ancient phone for ages just so they could amuse themselves from time to time. The phone went missing, eventually. Of course we have an alibi. - AT

Scott Parker

The early to mid 2000s was a mad time to be a United fan. Roy Keane successors could be unearthed beneath any rock. So it was with Scott Parker, once a hero at Charlton Athletic, later a massive let down at Chelsea. Had we had our way, he would’ve been a massive let down at United instead. We were so sure about this one. - BM


Once upon a time, in the strange and confusing periods in between great Sir Alex Ferguson teams, we were about as wrong as wrong gets, on matters of Manchester United transfer policy. Not only did Vicente - the natural heir to Ryan Giggs, obviously - seem like a clever signing, but the funds for his transfer would have been offset by the sale of that frustrating one-trick pony Cristiano Ronaldo, for whom United would’ve been mad to turn down any offer above £25 million. We’ll show ourselves out. - BM

Laurent Robert

Derby County v Wigan Athletic Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images

Alright, stop laughing, and tell us the last player you saw to thwack the ball as hard as this. 2004's very own Dimitri Payet would've been great fun to have in red, at least until he stormed off in a huff. - JS

Christian Benteke

We once thought he was good, then we thought he was rubbish. We've just checked his scoring record, and he's probably actually just alright. Who says we don't give you analysis? - JS


Michu would've been anticipating untold fame, wealth and glory after that spectacular season at Swansea City in 2012-13, when he netted 18 times in 35 league games. Unfortunately he scored only twice the following season, and after a year at Langreo in the Spanish third division, he's now sunning himself at Real Oviedo in the second tier. A dramatic rise, and an even more spectacular fall. - JS