Football Features

The list of players Man Utd let go after Sir Alex Ferguson retired is fascinating

By Squawka News

Published: 16:35, 8 May 2020

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Paul Pogba’s mega-money move back to Manchester United may never have been necessary had the club not let the talented Frenchman go in 2012. 

The youngster and his agent, Mino Raiola, allegedly had a falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson which precipitated his free transfer to Juventus, with United receiving a nominal £800,000 fee in compensation.

Looking back, that decision must go down as one of United’s — and Ferguson’s — biggest mistakes in the transfer window. The 27-year-old has four successive Serie A titles at Juve while turning himself into one of the best midfielders on the planet and has since lifted the World Cup at international level with France.

But what about Pogba’s contemporaries — the others who headed for the exit at Carrington in the same window? Was the club’s decision-making consistently bad, or is Pogba a rather large an anomaly?

Here is a look at other players to leave United in the 2012/13 season.

Dimitar Berbatov

Moved to: Fulham

Reported fee: £4.25m

Career path: Fulham, Monaco, PAOK, Kerala Blasters, retired

Age: 39

The effortlessly cool Bulgarian strolled around the pitch scoring at nearly a rate of a goal every other game at United – not a bad record at all. But his career since then suggests prudent policy on United’s behalf.

Berbatov glided around for Fulham before heading to the south of France to Monaco — a club that could hardly be more suited to his cigar-loving lifestyle — while a stay in Greece’s capital ended in the summer of 2016. He then moved to Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters before retiring in 2018 to undertake various media roles.

Park Ji-sung

Ji-Sung Park

Moved to: Queens Park Rangers

Reported fee: £2.6m

Career path: QPR, PSV Eindhoven (loan), retired

Age: 39

A real fan-favourite, Park was one of Ferguson’s most trusted players, often tasked with the heavy work-rate roles of great importance. He never let the side down in big games.

The midfielder helped win four Premier League titles and one Champions League medal before heading to Loftus Road where he stepped into a bit of a mess with QPR.

Having then spent a season on loan in the Netherlands he called time on his playing career in 2014 and worked as a club ambassador for United. In 2016, he enrolled in De Montfort on a sports management course and turned out even turned out for the university team.

He remains a global ambassador for the Red Devils.

Robbie Brady

Robbie Brady, Manchester United

Moved to: Hull City

Reported fee: £2.1m

Career path: Hull City, Norwich City, Burnley

Age: 28

Brady never made a senior appearance for United, so his move to Hull, after successive loan spells at the club, made a great deal of sense for both parties.

The Irishman has developed into an excellent left-sided player, excelling at both Hull and Norwich in the Premier League, as well as with the Republic of Ireland at Euro 2016. He moved to Burnley in January 2017, costing around £12m.

Joshua King

Moved to: Blackburn Rovers

Reported fee: £1.05m

Career path: Blackburn Rovers, Bournemouth

Age: 28

Like Brady, King had been out on loan a lot during his time with United and also failed to make the step up to the first team during his five-year stint at the club.

After a loan move with Blackburn, the Lancashire club made the deal permanent for the striker and despite his lack of goals, his speed helped show real potential and Eddie Howe signed him for Bournemouth, where he remains today.

King is one of the Cherries’ key attackers, scoring 46 goals in 154 Premier League games to date, and even looked on the verge of returning to Old Trafford in January, though that move fell through and United opted to take Odion Ighalo on loan instead.

Ritchie De Laet

Ritchie De Laet, Manchester United

Moved to: Leicester City

Reported fee: £1.06m

Career path: Leicester City, Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, Royal Antwerp (loan), Melbourne City (loan), Royal Antwerp

Age: 31

The dependable Belgian defender made just three senior appearances — one for every year — at United, spending time on loan with Sheffield United, Preston, Portsmouth, and Norwich before joining Leicester in 2012.

As it turned out, it was an inspired move. Promotion from the Championship followed and the 2015/16 season saw him win two medals in one, as he helped Middlesbrough to promotion and earned a Premier League medal from Leicester’s remarkable title charge.

Move to Aston Villa in 2016 but has barely featured due to a serious injury in December of that year. He has since enjoyed loan spells at Belgian side Royal Antwerp and Melbourne City in Australia, move to the former permanently in 2019.

Zeki Fryers

Norwich City’s Josh Murphy and Barnsley’s Zeki Fryers battle for the ball at the Oakwell Stadium, Barnsley.

Moved to: Standard Liege

Reported fee: Free

Career path: Standard Liege, Tottenham, Crystal Palace, Rotherham United (loan), Ipswich Town (loan), Barnsley, Swindon Town

Age: 27

Fryers has already had quite the career, having played for seven different clubs at the age of just 27.

The defender has enjoyed prominence on Football Manager in the past, but is yet to kick on in his actual career, struggling to make an impact Barnsley after being loaned out to Rotherham United and Ipswich Town from Crystal Palace.

Fryers does seem to have found his level, however, in League Two with Swindon Town.

Tomasz Kuszczak

l-r; Manchester United’s new signing Tomasz Kuszczak with Manager Alex Ferguson

Moved to: Brighton & Hove Albion

Reported fee: Free

Career path: Brighton & Hove Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Birmingham City, free agent

Age: 38

The Polish goalkeeper made 26 appearances for United over five years, but was never more than a back-up shot-stopper and moved down to the Championship to find regular football.

Kuszczak remained a dependable man between the posts for years and has performed admirably for his second-tier clubs, most recently making 92 appearances since the 2015 season for Birmingham.

He is now a free agent having been released in 2019.

Michael Owen


Career path: Stoke City, retired

Age: 40

Although United fans never took to Owen, due to his connection with rivals Liverpool, he did win a Premier League title, a League Cup and a Community Shield with the club.

Owen also scored a memorable 96th-minute winner to win the Manchester derby 4-3 in 2009 but, as with the rest of his career, injuries were a problem.

He was released in 2012 and after a summer without a club, Stoke City picked him up. But after a relatively fruitless season, he announced his retirement and now combines various media roles with a role as a club ambassador for Liverpool.


Federico Macheda, Wilfried Zaha, Jesse Lingard, Sam Johnstone, Fabio, Ben Amos, Michael Keane, Reece Brown, Davide Petrucci, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Angelo Henriquez, Bebe


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