Sir Alex Ferguson is widely regarded as the greatest manager in the history of association football. Between 1986 and 2013, the wily old Scot led Manchester United to 13 Premier League titles and some 25 other trophies.
The now 76-year-old former Rangers striker retired from management following the 2012-13 season, ending with yet another title – and arguably his most impressive of the lot. Over the course of his 27 years at Old Trafford, Fergie signed gems like Cristiano Ronaldo, Eric Cantona and Peter Schmeichel, as well as some complete duds, like Kleberson, Eric Djemba-Djemba and Bebe.
Today we take a look at Sir Alex’s last 7 signings as Manchester United manager: Where are they now?
7. Freddie Veseli – Empoli
Who ? In seventh place it’s Freddie Veseli. Although Veseli never broke into the Manchester United team – and by that I mean, he never played a single minute of first team football in a Manchester United shirt – he is now playing for Empoli in Italy’s top flight. The six foot Swiss born centre-back has also won 11 caps for Albania since switching his national allegiance to the nation in 2015. Ferguson brought Veseli to the club for £100,000 from Manchester City when the defender was only 19, but he spent his two seasons contracted to United on-loan at Bury and Port Vale.
6. Shinji Kagawa – Borussia Dortmund
One of the key signings of Sir Alex’s final summer in charge of Manchester United was the acquisition of Japanese international Shinji Kagawa for a potential £17 million. Signed after United missed out to Chelsea in their pursuit of Eden Hazard, there was a debate at the time as to whether Hazard or Kagawa was the better addition.
Any such debate seems rather absurd now. Hazard has long been Chelsea’s – and one of the Premier League’s best players – whilst Kagawa flattered to deceive at Old Trafford, and eventually returned to Borussia Dortmund after just two seasons in England. Now aged 29, Kagawa has remained with Dortmund ever since, but has yet to truly return to his pre- Manchester United peak.
5. Nick Powell – Wigan Athletic
Signed on the same day as Shinji Kagawa – July 1st 2012 in case you were wondering – Nick Powell was a wonderful prospect at Crewe Alexandra. A classy midfielder who could deputise in a more advanced role, a highlights reel of Powell’s best goals made for brilliant viewing – including his most crucial strike in Crewe’s League Two Play-Off final. Unlike Veseli, he did turn out for Manchester United, but not as much as the club nor Ferguson surely would have hoped for. Nine appearances in four seasons tells you all you need to know, and the midfielder joined Wigan Athletic on a free transfer in 2016.
What a signing that has proved to be by the Greater Manchester outfit however, with Powell arguably the outstanding player in League One as the Latics won promotion last season. Since January of this year, Wigan are reported to have rejected bids from £3 to £5 million for their star man from the likes of Brighton and Aston Villa.
4. Robin van Persie – Feyenoord
Undoubtedly the most significant signing of Sir Alex Ferguson’s final summer in charge of Manchester United, Robin van Persie was tremendous in the Scots final season at the helm. Arriving from Arsenal as the reigning Premier League Golden Boot winner for £22.5 million, van Persie retained that accolade with 26 Premier League goals and 30 in all competitions in his first season with United. His next two seasons got gradually worse, and the Dutchman eventually departed for Fenerbahce, but his impact at Old Trafford won’t be forgotten in a hurry. Now aged 34, RVP has been back with his boyhood club Feyenoord since January of this year.
3. Alexander Buttner – Vitesse
In Dennis Irwin and Patrice Evra, Alex Ferguson long had two of the best left-back’s in Premier League history at his disposal. The same probably couldn’t be said of Alexander Buttner, who arrived for somewhere in the region of £4 million back in 2012. Buttner started Sir Alex’s final game – that 5-5 thriller with West Brom – but that was one of only 13 league appearances he made over two seasons in the Premier League. An attack-minded full-back who has since played for Dynamo Moscow and Anderlecht, the now 29-year-old Dutchman has been back at Vitesse since January 2017.
2. Angelo Henriquez – Atlas
Chilean international Angelo Henriquez was Sir Alex Ferguson’s second to last signing as Manchester United manager, joining the club as an 18-year-old after scoring 15 goals in 28 games for Universidad de Chile. It wasn’t hard to see why the dead-eyed front man was attracting such attention then, and his £780,000 fee reportedly had the potential to reach some £4 million subject to add-ons.
It seems unlikely Henriquez ever triggered those add-ons, since although he racked up five caps for Chile during his time at Old Trafford, Henriquez never registered a first team appearance for Manchester United. Three seasons at Dinamo Zagreb followed, before a transfer to Liga MX outfit Atlas in December 2017, where he has since scored once in 17 outings.
1. Wilfried Zaha – Crystal Palace
Well, you could argue that only one of Alex Ferguson’s final seven signings at Manchester United actually proved to be a success for the Red Devils, but Wilfried Zaha has certainly proved his class since leaving Old Trafford. Having missed out on Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ferguson was determined to bring this bright young talent to Manchester.
Manchester United forked out a potential £15 million, which was still a lot of money back then, in order to do just that. However, it was probably a case of too much too soon for Zaha, who never really broke through at the club. It supposedly took less than £4 million for Palace to bring Zaha back to Selhurst Park on a permanent in 2014, and he is now almost universally considered to be not only Palace’s best but also by far their most important player.