Forgotten Footballers – Ex-United striker Manucho
Just like the first player in this series, Manucho is just another on a long list of Sir Alex Ferguson’s lesser known signings. Everyone’s always found of some of Fergie’s best ever signings whilst at Manchester United, but in a large group of players, there are a few Manuchos.
Manucho was born in the African country of Angola on 7 March 1983, and at just 16 years old was playing for Angolan Premier League side Benfica. This earned him a move across the country to Petro Atletico where Manchester United first caught the youngsters eye.
Between 2002 and 2008, he spent many good years at Atletico with an impressive goal tally of 1 in 2, but does someone who’s prolific in Angolan football fit the bill to join Manchester United, one of the biggest clubs in world football? No.
Manucho was sought after by then Manchester United assistant, Carlos Quieroz, who being Portuguese had knowledge of the Angolan leagues. After being the Angolan leagues top goal scorer for two years, now 25, Ferguson was impressed with Manucho in a three week trial and had this to say about him : “He is a tall, agile, quick forward and through contacts that Quieroz has, he was brought to our attention around six months ago” before adding “I think he could have a long and prosperous career here in Europe”. Yeah, good one Alex.
He came into a Manchester United squad that won the Premier League, League Cup and Community Shield, as well as losing out in the FA Cup semi-finals and Champions League final. He walked into a dressing room with Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Louis Saha, £30million Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez, how on earth was Manucho ever going to see any minutes? He did see some, 16 to be precise in a cup tie against Middlesbrough. Fergie clearly wasn’t impressed after offering him a contract and within that first season the Angolan had two unsuccessful loan spells with Greek side Panathinaikos and Hull City, but neither could continue his stay in Manchester.
United decided to cut their losses in the summer of 2009, just a year after he’d signed for the Red Devils and sold the striker, for free, to Liga BBVA side Real Valladolid. He managed just 4 league goals all season, which at the time seemed very poor, but now when you look at who he was behind we can cut him some slack. On loan from Atletico Madrid, Valladolid had a young Diego Costa playing ahead of him.
After his first season in Spain, Manucho was once shipped abroad for a loan spell, and this time found himself in Turkey at Bucaspor, where he managed to score twice in 12 games, including a goal to beat Fenerbahce 3-2. This lasted almost six months, and then at the end of this loan spell Manucho stayed in Turkey for the remainder of the season, but this time on loan at Manisaspor.
A return from a year in Turkey actually earned the Angolan a starting place for Real Valladolid. Playing 57 times over the 5-year contract, the Spanish side let his contract run out after scoring just 14 goals in that time. Manucho has since said, now 31, he wants to settle down and spend some time at a club, and in the summer remained in Spain with Rayo Vallecano, but a number of injuries have limited his game time this season. He only signed a one year deal with the La Liga side, so I fully expect them to let this one run out as well, and then who knows where he’ll end up. Type his name into Google and a number of rumours appear regarding a return to Petro Atletico in Angola, the side who made his name.