Continuing our series of Forgotten Reds, we take a look back at some names from Manchester United’s past that we haven’t heard in ages (at least not until the last three weeks sent us into the depths of the internet archives, desperate to watch some football). Here are some former players that we totally forgot were ever even a thing. Let’s see how they’re doing, shall we?
Before United hit pay dirt in Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood (fingers crossed), there was a long line of moderately promising strikers to have come through the academy only to eventually disappoint. There’s a straight line from Danny Welbeck (sigh) that runs through (noted non-American) Giuseppe Rossi, Federico Macheda, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, and back to Mark Robins. Especially after the famous success of the Class of ‘92, United were almost obsessed with having a striker graduate from their ranks.
One such unfortunate carrier of that mantle was Fraizer Campbell. Campbell started breaking through from the youth teams in 2006, before going on loan to Royal Antwerp (remember when that was a thing?) and Hull City in successive seasons. Despite not scoring a competitive goal for the United first team, Campbell’s impressive goalscoring form during those loans, and his encouraging appearances during preseason, meant that many of us felt that we finally had a homegrown striker on our hands. That lasted all of a few weeks, before Campbell was sent the other way on loan in the deal to bring Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham Hotspur.
Things didn’t work out for Campbell at Spurs, but he went on to have a decent career between the Premier League and Championship at a number of clubs. He’s now at Huddersfield Town, where he’s scored 2 goals in 27 appearances this season.
When putting together this piece on goals scored by players I’d forgotten about, I was convinced that Manucho had scored on his United league debut in 2008, only to be never seen again. It turns out I was wrong — he did not score on his league debut (before never being seen again). He did set up Danny Welbeck’s debut goal with a nice layoff though.
Manucho was signed in January 2008 from Petro Atlético in his home country of Angola (I promise I’m not making any of this up), before going on loan for the second half of that season to Panathinaikos in order to secure a work permit. After making his United debut in the League Cup in September 2008, Manucho went on to make only two more appearances in the League Cup and Premier League — all as a substitute. He never scored for the club.
He was last seen at UE Cornellà in the Spanish third division, but is currently without a club.
If it wasn’t for the fact that Tošić recently appeared against United for FK Partizan in the Europa League, some of you might be forgiven for thinking that this is a name and story that we made up for our own entertainment. Tošić joined United in January 2009, only playing a total of 79 minutes for the club, and the story goes that United never really wanted him in the first place.
United were actually interested in Tošić’s teammate at Partizan, Adem Ljajić, who was by far the more highly rated of the two Serbian youngsters. Allegedly, in order to get Partizan to agree to sell Ljajić, United had to take Tošić as part of the deal. But while Tošić was able to join immediately. Ljajić had to remain at Partizan for a further year due to difficulties in securing a work permit. In the end, United shockingly pulled out of the deal to purchase Ljajić’s rights, but were still stuck with Tošić. Sort of like if you were buying a case of toilet paper online, and added a pencil sharpener to your shopping cart to qualify for free shipping, but only the pencil sharpener came in the mail.
Anyway, Tošić is still playing obviously, and recently left Partizan for a second time to join Taizhou Yuanda in China.
There is no reason for a player who was only technically left United in 2017 to be this forgettable, but every time I see the highlights of Marcus Rashford’s Premier League debut brace against Arsenal, I’m caught off guard by no. 30. Who’s that swinging in that excellent cross for the first goal? Oh yeah, Varela. That was...a thing.
Varela was one of many pointless Louis van Gaal signings. Update: It appears Varela was signed by David Moyes, which further proves my point. I can’t even remember if anyone ever rated him or not, only that he was here one day and gone the next. Anyway, he’s at Copenhagen now.
Few of you will remember this, but the real star of Manchester United’s FA Youth Cup winning side in 2011 was a French midfielder by the name of Paul Pogba. Signed from Le Havre at 15, Pogba shone in the United youth teams. Once tipped for stardom, the then-teenage Pogba was released at the end of his contract after failing to break into the first team.
Unverified reports say that he went on play in Serie A, but little has been heard about in him in the media since leaving United. After some digging, we were able to track down his social media accounts, and it appears he has been retired from football for some time and is enjoying time with his young family. Good for him.
Honorable mentions to Rodrigo Possebon, Antero Henrique, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Zeki Fryers, and Jonathan Spector.