They used to say the only way after leaving Manchester United was down, but in recent years a number of players have proved that theory wrong.
Uruguay's Diego Forlan, Italian forward Giuseppe Rossi, and German international Ron-Robert Zieler are among those to build fine careers, with Paul Pogba of Juventus and France the latest player to do so.
The club said goodbye to another popular young player this week, Mats Daehli, who has left to join Molde in Norway, and the club will hope not to regret giving up on him.
Two players who they did allow to leave, and who have taken temporary backwards steps at least, both had a positive weekend for their current clubs in their efforts to turn their long-term careers into successes despite waving goodbye to Old Trafford.
The lesser known of the two is Kenji Gorre, a Dutchman who was tipped at one stage as a fine prospect to become one of United's wing wizards.
After being released by United early in the year, the 18-year-old a trial at Celtic before being offered a short-term deal with Swansea City, where he remains.
And this weekend he offered a glimpse of his potential, on the Swans' tour of Holland, getting his first taste of minutes with the first team.
He featured in their 5-1 win over Excelsior, playing in his native country and getting in the scoresheet. He netted the fourth goal of Swansea's five, volleying home an assist from star man Michu.
Fans will certainly hope to see more of him in the upcoming games and see if he can become a welcome bonus ahead of the new season.
Another former United man who is better known but equally trying to rebuild his career is Ravel Morrison. The youngster had off-field issues at United, and apparent 'attitude problems', and was sold to West Ham for just £1 million despite being described as one of England's best technically gifted young footballers.
He was loaned to Birmingham last season and after a mixed start he came on and impressed fans by the end of the campaign. Now he is hoping to show why he deserves to stay at the Hammers and fight for an opportunity in the Premier League next season.
Morrison has at least got off to a positive start, netting in West Ham's first pre-season friendly of the season, a match away to Irish side Cork City.
The scoreline was predictably one-sided, with the Premier League club winning 6-2, with even West Ham outcast Alou Diarra netting the opener. Perhaps that places Ravel Morrison's goal, West Ham's sixth, in context, but it at least shows he is in the conversation at this point for next season.
It's early days for both players, but early goals will give both Gorre and Morrison confidence and a platform to build from heading into the rest of pre-season, in the knowledge they should have grabbed their managers' attentions.
Morrison or Gorre? Who has the better chance of making it?
image: © joncandy