Saturday, 2 January 2016

Man United's January Transfers

It's that time of year again as the January transfer window opens. So much speculation will surround Manchester United as they will be linked to every Tom, Dick and Harry Kane, but who will Louis van Gaal and Ed Woodward buy to strengthen a squad that has struggled over the past few months?

While we await the answer to that question here is a look back at players United have signed in January down the years.

Lou Macari: 1973-1984 app: 400 goals: 97

The diminutive Scot arrived at Old Trafford in 1973 from Celtic for a fee of £200,000. Bought by manager and fellow Scot Tommy Docherty he became an instant hit, which continued throughout the seventies and into the eighties. He scored in his first game for United against West Ham United in a 2–2 draw.

Nearly signed for Bill Shankly's Liverpool but, fortunately, his head was turned United's way with a little help from Paddy Crerand.

Originally bought as a striker, Macari eventually found his niche in midfield. In a team that included Coppell, Pearson, Hill and Buchan, they soon brought United back into prominence after suffering relegation in 1974.

Doc's Army was a team famous for it's attacking play and kept the tradition of playing attractive football that the fans had been fed on from the Busby days.

He continued in an attacking midfield position under Dave Sexton and reached the FA Cup final in 1979 only to lose in the last minute to Arsenal. When Ron Atkinson took over from Sexton, Macari spent so long on the bench he gained the nickname of 'The Judge'. In 1984, Macari left United to enter the world of management.

Probably most famous for the shot that rebounded off Jimmy Greenhoff's chest before entering the Liverpool net to win the FA Cup for United in 1977. Still a fan's favourite with his honest no-nonsense views on everything United.

Joe Jordan 1978-1981 app: 126  goals: 41

Nicknamed 'Jaws' due to his toothless grin, this hard man center forward terrorised defences up and down the country with his fearless style of play, never afraid to fight for the cause by sticking his head into places it had no right to be. This never-say-die attitude cemented him as a terrace favourite.

With his big teammate from Leeds, defender Gordon McQueen, they gave United a fearsome look in both attack and defence.

Bought by then manager Dave Sexton from Leeds United for a fee of £350,000 which at the time was a new record for a deal between two British clubs.

Although trophyless during his time at United it wasn't for the lack of trying. He was in the side that lost to Arsenal in the 1979 FA Cup final. Not really at the club long enough to warrant a legend tag, but those who remember him playing will do so fondly.

Les Sealey 1990-1991/1993-1994 app: 56

Cheeky Cockney Les Sealey was given his big chance at United when Ferguson dropped No.1 keeper Jim Leighton from the 1990 FA Cup final replay against Crystal Palace.

His heroics in goal that evening against an overly aggressive Palace team turned him into a cult hero with all United fans. After the final, ever the true gentleman, Sealey offered his winners medal to Leighton but thankfully the FA intervened and awarded both players medals.

His cult status was to get even higher a year later when he kept goal in the 1991 European Cup Winners Cup final against Barcelona. United ran out 2-1 winners and it was his save from Koeman's free-kick that kept United ahead in the match.

Signed on loan from Luton Town he left United then returned in 1993 as the backup for Peter Schmeichel but only managed a couple of appearances.

Les sadly passed away in 2001 of a heart attack at the young age of 43. A great character and underrated for his talent as a keeper.

Andy Cole 1995-2001 app: 275 goals: 121

Signed by Ferguson from Newcastle United, where he had a goal conversion rate of 81%, in a deal of £7 million which included Keith Gillespie, valued £1 million, going the other way.

This proved to be excellent business for United as 'Cole the Goal' went on to head the fearsome attack alongside Dwight Yorke which culminated in the Treble of 1999.

Cole played up front in three partnerships of note Cantona, Sheringham and Yorke. Rumoured to not get on quite so well with Cantona and definitely not on speaking terms with Sheringham, it is his partnership with Yorke that produced Cole's best results. In the treble season, they amassed a total of 53 goals between them in all competitions.

The partnership with Yorke proved particularly potent in the UEFA Champions League. Who can forget how their goals dismantled Juventus in the semi-final 2nd leg in '99 on the way to the glorious final.

Cole is now working as an ambassador for United.

Diego Forlan 2002-2004 app: 98 (61 sub) goals: 17

Bought to United at a cost of £6.9 million on 22 January 2002, he is probably the unluckiest striker to have worn the red of United as he took an absolute age to get off the mark. He made a total of 13 Premier League and five UEFA Champions League appearances in the 2001–02 season, however, he did not manage to score a goal. His first United goal, a penalty, came against Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League on the 18th of Sept 2002.

In every match, the fans were willing him on to score or for him to take every penalty. The Stretford End would have sucked his shots into the net if they could have.

Forlan earned immediate legendary status with a double in a victory at Anfield in December 2002. This was the match that the adoring Old Trafford faithful gave him his own terrace chant to do with the fact he comes from Uruguay and the emotions of Scousers. In the same season, he finished third in the goalscorers charts behind van Nistelrooy and Solskjaer.

Ironically when he left United to join Villarreal he smashed all records with his goals.

Louis Saha 2004-2008 app: 124 goals: 42

Unfortunately, Saha's United career was blighted by injuries, but when he was fit he certainly knew how to score goals.

Saha was transferred to United for a fee of £12.4 million in 2004 having scored 15 goals so far that season for Fulham.

The French striker got off to a great career at Old Trafford scoring seven goals in ten starts. The next season was the start of his injury woes especially to his knee then hamstring. He began partnering Ruud van Nistelrooy and then the teenage Wayne Rooney.

In 2006, a fully fit Saha was among the goals again and was on a roll. However, the injury jinx returned. When he returned the last time United had a forward line including Rooney, Tevez and a certain Ronaldo. He played mainly from the bench and when called upon did his job. His United career ended when he was sold to Everton in 2008.

A quality striker and his love for United was plain to see, it was only the injuries that held him back.

Patrice Evra 2006-2014 app: 329 goals: 10

Brought to Man United from AS Monaco for a fee of £5.5 million. Evra took his time to settle at the club making his debut in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City. So poor was his performance in that match Ferguson took him off at half-time.

Fast forward eight years and the Frenchman left United having won almost everything in the game. The only trophy to elude him was the FA Cup.

Probably his greatest achievement was winning the double of Premier League and Champions League in 2008. He was also embroiled in a scandal in which then Liverpool forward Suarez was banned for racial slurs aimed towards Evra during a game.

At left back Evra became an important cog in United's defence forming a great understanding at the back with Ferdinand and Vidic. This was the rock that Fergie built his last great teams on. Evra had the honour of captaining United on many occasions and did so with a great gusto.

It was a sad day when he was sold to Juventus as he still had plenty of playing time in his legs and his leadership and defensive awareness were greatly missed upon his departure. Like so many players who have left Old Trafford, Evra has often been quoted as saying that United is his favourite club.

Nemanja Vidic 2006-2014 app: 300 goals: 21

Captured by United from Spartak Moscow for a bargain fee of £7 million at  the same time as Patrice Evra.

Vidic would go on to form a solid partnership with Rio Ferdinand in the middle of a defence that was comparable to the double act of Bruce and Pallister over a decade before.

Vidic was famous for his no-nonsense tough man approach to defending and was the perfect foil to Ferdinand's more stylish play. Along with Evra at full-back United enjoyed having a defense that another great side could be built upon. Fergie did just that by winning the double in 2008.

In his later years at the club, he was awarded the captaincy, which was a popular choice with the fans. Again, like Evra, he was released far too early and could surely have helped the club through the transition period that followed his departure and kept some much-needed stability.

Henrik Larsson 2007 Jan-March (loan) app: 13 goals: 3

Ferguson managed to bring the world class striker from Helsingborg on loan during a break in their league and what an impact he had not so much for his goals but his persona.

He gave Old Trafford a buzz and would have been a perfect fit at United as a permanent signing, but he had already given his word that he would return to Sweden after the loan spell.

A couple of months after he left United the team went on to win the league and even though he hadn't played enough games he was awarded a winners medal. His time as a Red Devil was short but sweet.

Chris Smalling 2010-Present app: 180 goals: 10

The jury was out on Smalling for a long time after he joined United from Fulham in 2010 for an undisclosed fee. Alex Ferguson obviously saw something in a player who was playing non-league football for Maidstone United in 2008.

The foresight of Ferguson has certainly paid off as Smalling has proved to be an integral part of van Gaal's defensive line with performances that have earned him glowing endorsements from all quarters. He is arguable one of the best central defenders playing in England and has grown in confidence and stature with his leadership qualities.

Although he has built up a strong partnership with Daley Blind that has helped the side plug the holes at the back the hope is that the club will acquire a more experienced partner for him to help shoulder the responsibilities.

Juan Mata 2014-Present app: 77 goals: 21

Mata arrived at Carrington in a helicopter in January 2014 from Chelsea for a fee which was then a club record of £37.1 million.

With the huge expectation of being the saviour of Man United and David Moyes that season firmly rested on his shoulders. Sadly, it wasn't to be as United continued to struggle until the end of the campaign.

Under his latest manager Louis van Gaal, Mata has had ample opportunity to show why he was the fan's player of the season two years running at Chelsea. He has produced the man of the match performances, assists and goals over the last two seasons that have not only meant that the Spaniard has become a valuable player for the team but also a favourite of the fans. Who can forget the two goals he scored at Anfield against Liverpool in 2015.

Victor Valdes 2015-Present app: 2

Valdes had been given permission to train with the United squad by van Gaal in the latter part of 2014 as he began his rehabilitation from injury. This gave van Gaal a good chance to see the keeper up close and in January 2015 the former Barcelona keeper was signed on an 18-month contract.

The only thing that stood in his way of becoming United's number 1 was his compatriot David De Gea who was in scintillating form for the Red Devils and it wasn't until May of last season that he got his chance when he replaced De Gea against Arsenal at Old Trafford. He made only one more appearance that season in the final game against Hull.

It was over the summer that rumours started to spread about a rift between himself and the manager which was further fuelled when United signed the Argentinian Sergio Romero as back-up for De Gea.

Valdes has since been sent out on loan to Standard Liege until the end of the current season.

There you have the January buys from Manchester United's past. I hope you enjoyed looking back and let's see if the next purchases in this transfer window go towards improving the team and become legends in their own right.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Miles Dunton.

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