Manchester United need to be wary of South American hoodoo

Van Gaal and Giggs will be hoping to see their South American stars shine
Van Gaal and Giggs will be hoping to see their South American stars shine

I have bad news for Manchester United fans.

Remember Carlos Tevez? He used to play for the red side of Manchester before he did the unthinkable and crossed over to the sky blues?

Well, he is the most successful South American to play for the Red Devils.

Tevez was only at the Theatre of Dreams on a 2-year loan deal. As soon as the arrangement was to be made permanent, the Argentine decided he preferred to live on the north-west of Manchester instead and signed for the Citizens. So, it’s no wonder his record at United is selectively tainted.

But for those who love a good stat or two, Carlitos came close to playing a century of matches in the 2 seasons he was a Red Devil. He averaged a return of 34% in goals. And when he walked away, he took with him a UEFA Champions League trophy, 2 Premier League titles, a FIFA Club World Cup medal, the 2008/09 League Cup and 2008 FA Community Shield. Not too shabby for 2 years worth of work.

Before Tevez arrived at Old Trafford, 4 other South Americans tried to find success with Manchester United. I have to emphasize the word ‘tried’ as their level of success is open to differing interpretations. And these names, are better left forgotten in the realms of club history by many of the club’s faithful for various reasons.

Incidentally it was an Argentine that was to be United’s first South American signing ever, back in 2001. You couldn’t forget Juan Sebastian Veron even if you tried. After a hugely successful stint in Italy, particularly with Lazio, he crossed the pond to become the most expensive transfer in English football, at the time. And for all of the 28 million pounds plus change spent on La Bruja, he only lasted 2 of his 5 seasons at United. He left for Chelsea in 2003 and has since been associated with the words ‘expensive flop’ and ‘worst signing’ ever since when you look him up online. He just couldn’t keep up with the league as it was!

Gabriel Heinze’s fate did not fare very well either after his unveiling in 2007. Having cost the club close to 7 million pounds, he started his career in England with promise. Until injuries started plaguing the poor guy. Then, disillusionment at the club followed after he lost his first team place. And if you thought Tevez moving to neighbours City was bad, demanding to be transferred to arch-rivals Liverpool is apparently worse! But that’s what Heinze did and that marked the end of any legacy he might have carved out at United after only 3 seasons and some 80 odd matches under his belt.

Prior to Heinze’s arrival, there was the Brazilian Kleberson. He was acquired in 2003 as a replacement for Veron. Luckily, he only cost the club one-third of the Argentine’s fees. Unfortunately, he featured in only a quarter of the total number of matches Veron could muster, due to injuries. By now you’d think the South Americans would’ve realised luck was just not on their side at United. Or perhaps there was something in the water at Carrington.

veronSome fans would consider Diego Forlan a mild success at United. He came in around the same time as Veron. He also only cost a quarter of what was spent on Veron. And he managed to last a season longer than the Argentine! But he only recorded a 17% return on goals, from playing close to 100 matches. Compare that to the 40% he recorded in his previous club Independiente. Or the 46% at Villarreal after he left England. Or the 49% at Atletico Madrid 2007 and 2011…..

Then, there’s the current crop of South Americans in the present squad.

Ecuador’s Antonio Valencia has unfortunately lost his form in the past 2 seasons. Having cost 10 million pounds less than Veron, he started off well from Wigan and did help United to 2 Premier League titles. But if he does not return to his form from when he first joined and as he approaches the 200-matches mark, fans will only remember him for the current funk he is in.

The Brazilian Anderson was meant to be the next Roy Keane at United. The club forked out close to 20 million pounds for the promising midfielder from FC Porto. However,  as he closes in on his 8th season at Old Trafford, you get the feeling the club is at a loss with this one. They tried to get rid of him but his potential isn’t in demand. They do not want to lose him on the cheap having invested so much on him. And at the ripe ol’ age of 26, you’d think clubs would be clamouring for his signature. Unfortunately, it looks as if this deal could also go down in club history as an expensive flop unless things change.

The brothers Fabio and Rafael Da Silva do not share similar fates at the club. Rafael has fared better then Fabio, who will undoubtedly go down in the annals of club history as another failed South American project. Rafael however can still be the exception to the rule. At 24 years of age, he could still pave a bright path for himself at Old Trafford and rewrite history to become one of the rare South American success stories at United. The ex Fluminense youth players, were touted as Brazil’s answer to the Neville brothers. And while United fans cannot help but peer nonchalantly over their shoulders to keep up with how brother Fabio is currently doing at Cardiff City, they can still hold a light out for brother Raf and hope he finds consistent favour with the incumbent manager Luis Van Gaal.

Let’s not forget, Manchester United have gone and added three more South Americans to their roster this season in the form of Angel Di Maria, Marcos Rojo and Falcao.

All three are established internationals in their own right.
All three have given up the chance to play in Europe’s most lucrative tournament to feature for the Red Devils, who aren’t in said competition.
At least 2 of them bring along with them a wealth of achievement and experience.

But then, so did Veron.

And the stats, like Shakira’s hips, they don’t lie.

So, for the sake of the United faithful, let’s just hope they all turn out like Tevez instead.

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