Looking on as an unused substitute Paul Pogba had lost patience on New Year’s Eve in 2011.
Paul Pogba assumed he deserved a chance to give Sir Alex Ferguson a 70th birthday treat as Manchester United welcomed bottom of the table Blackburn Rovers on December 31 five years ago. Yet he wasn’t and it proved a turning point.
Darren Fletcher was injured and three players — Wayne Rooney, Darron Gibson and Jonny Evans — had been dropped. Michael Carrick played in defence due to an injury crisis.
With no central midfielders available Rafael, a right-back, and Park Ji-Sung, who usually played wide, were selected in front of the Frenchman.
"It was a very, very difficult moment for me because I was in love with Manchester and I was a Mancunian," Pogba told ESPN.
One down at half-time Ferguson could have opted for Pogba to change the game, but instead looked to Anderson. Will Keane’s selection made matters worse when he came in the final moments.
At the end of that campaign, Pogba left to join Juventus on a free. Now he has returned to Manchester United as the world’s most expensive player, costing £89 million.
So what has happened to the players that kept Pogba out of the side that day?
Will Keane - Still at Manchester United, the game against Blackburn marked his first senior appearance for the club. He would have to wait two years from then for his next taste of first-team football on loan at Wigan Athletic. Louis van Gaal stopped Keane’s rot of four loans, featuring him in his side for games against Sunderland in the league and Shrewsbury Town in the cup. Seemingly not in Jose Mourinho’s plans, it looks like his time in Manchester is about to come to an end.
Anderson - The Brazilian had been brought back from injury early which made his entrance to the game surprising. Injury problems hampered his clear potential and failed to make his mark in Manchester. David Moyes sent him out on loan to Fiorentina, where he made a mere amount of seven appearances. Van Gaal started Anderson in just one game — the embarrassing 4-0 loss to MK Dons in the League Cup which many of the starting eleven didn’t survive. In February last year he signed for Internacional in his home country on a free transfer, missing a penalty on his debut.
Park Ji-Sung - Ferguson’s big game player, the South Korean only started three more league games that season. In the following summer, he headed south for Queens Park Rangers, but failed to hame the influence he was so trusted for at Old Trafford. Rather than playing in the Championship after relegation in London, Park spent a year on loan with PSV Eindhoven. Shortly after retiring, he became a United global ambassador and recently toured with the team on their pre-season tour in China.
Rafael - His first league start of the season came on that critical New Year’s Eve. Yet he continued being a fan favourite and a regular starter under Ferguson and Moyes. The Scot’s successor van Gaal’s arrival was not good news for the Brazilian. The right-back’s style was too risky for the Dutchman, who held him on tight reins. He joined his current club Lyon in 2015 and was quick to express his freedom, starring ever since in France. Still only 26, it seems Rafael has the best future of the four.
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