You may call them overrated or overhyped, every club’s got some players like that but when it comes to Manchester United, the global hype machine have more than their fair share.
Although bad for the fans but let the reality cascade upon us and so we should realize the fact that it is often not the player’s fault—especially in the past few seasons, when the tectonic plates have shifted over and over again, as three permanent managers have taken the helm. But for whatever reason, these players just did not look well on the field.
Now, it’s a lot more complicated out there on the field than it looks from our TV screens, youngsters play shoulder to shoulder with high-profile mega-transfers, both perpetrators and victims of the cycle of hype, expectation and disappointment. And it’s kind of sad.
This should perhaps make us all consider how much hype we buy into. But whatever the reason, the following players were unable to live up to the whirlwind of attention they received:
Angel Di Maria
The former Real Madrid player is undoubtedly one of the best in his positions and when he retires, he’ll look back on his player career with great satisfaction. For the most part, he will be able to say he lived up to his potential. He amassed trophies around Europe and, at his best, became one of the most pleasing players to watch on the planet. But then again, bad stuff (coughs, the transfer, coughs) happens.
The Di Maria who turned up at United cannot say any of what’s mentioned above. Again, part of this is down to the way he was managed by Van Gaal, but the player must surely take some culpability. For managers cannot completely destroy a player. Can they? Okay, well yes they can but that’s another story and I’m no story-teller.
A Premier League-record signing when he arrived, he was given the No. 7 shirt, and things were set up for him to be the player to return the stardust to that number.
Instead, he was sold after a season in which he had scored a couple of nice goals and provided a few assists but basically failed at Old Trafford. His United career could hardly have been more overhyped but it’s okay. He’s still one of the best.
Anderson might be a surprise inclusion to some on this list, but those who spent time discussing United online in the late ’00s and early ’10s will remember the cycle of Anderson hype.
Every year was supposed to be his year. Every return from injury, every new midfield partnership he was tried as a part of and every new dawn was supposed to be the start of something special.
Sadly, it never was. Serious injuries plagued his time at Old Trafford, and he left with a lot of medals to show for not-all-that-many good performances. The hype was never lived up to.
“the boy who could do anything” as everyone used to say.
This guy an electric debut against Sunderland in October 2013 and everyone went bat-crazy after that. But then again, United fans didn’t know what would happen over the brutal months.
He’s still young and can do a lot, and he may yet be able to find a way to achieve it at United or elsewhere, but the hope—and hype—that surrounded him in his earliest days has fizzled out. Of course.
In truth, this is an occasion in which the hype made sense—he was obviously a special talent, and its dissipation has been as much about the circumstances at United as the player himself. What Sir Alex Ferguson could have done with a talent like his is something to wistfully consider.
But when reality bites again after that pleasing daydream, there can be no doubt that Januzaj belongs on this list.
One of the best strikers in the world. Such was the level of this great player, back in 2012, was compared with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
But at United he was an almost total flop. The hype around him came from the Old Trafford stands as much as anywhere. His incredibly catchy, joyful chant, the promise of the Falcao No. 9 shirt to deliver the Red Devils from the mediocrity into which they had slumped; his arrival caught the collective imagination.
But post-serious knee injury, Falcao was a shadow of his former self. He was probably not a great fit for Louis van Gaal’s system and managerial style, even in his prime, but down on his luck and needing a revival of confidence? It was a recipe for disaster.
His signing promised so much. His United career delivered so little. There is no doubt that Falcao belongs here.