Sir Alex Ferguson's top five transfer blunders

As Paul Pogba shines at the World Cup, Sports Mole selects five of Sir Alex Ferguson's biggest errors in the transfer market.

While Twitter has numerous downfalls, it does at least provide a quota of public fascination. Yesterday, the social networking site was awash with aghast Manchester United fans that had seen Paul Pogba round off a positive performance for France at the World Cup by opening the scoring against Nigeria.

After all, the youngster was on United's books, but a contract wrangle in 2012 resulted in the midfielder leaving for Juventus.

His departure is regarded to be among one of Sir Alex Ferguson's biggest misjudgments in the transfer market, but what other errors did United's greatest manager of all time commit? Here, Sports Mole picks out the Scot's top five transfer gaffes.

1. Replacing Peter Schmeichel

In terms of signings, Ferguson made few better than Schmeichel. The Dane cost United just £505,000 in 1991 and during the eight years that followed, he'd go on to be regarded as one of the best goalkeepers to have ever graced a net. Such a presence was always going to be tough to replace, so much so that it took Ferguson six years.

Australian Mark Bosnich was first to have a go, but flopped early on, before the likes of Fabien Barthez, Tim Howard, Roy Carroll, Raimond van der Gouw, Ricardo, Massimo Taibi and even veteran Andy Goram had a stint between the posts. It wasn't until Edwin van der Sar arrived at Old Trafford in the summer of 2005 that Ferguson recruited a keeper that could be trusted.

Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel celebrates their winning goal in the Champions League final on May 26, 1999© Getty Images

2. Jaap Stam

A proud and stubborn man, it takes a lot for Ferguson to admit publicly that he has made a mistake. Where Stam is concerned, though, the Scot has conceded that he made a "bad decision" in letting the Dutch centre-back leave the club for Lazio in 2001. Despite an Achilles problem, Stam was still considered to be among the best defenders in world football.

Speaking to MUTV last year, Ferguson said: "When I think of disappointments, obviously Jaap Stam was always a disappointment to me, I made a bad decision there." To make matters worse for United, Stam was replaced by an ageing Laurent Blanc, who failed to adapt to the pace of the English game.

Jaap Stam in action for Manchester United against Arsenal on August 09, 1998.© Getty Images

3. Summer of 2009

Ferguson was always fighting a losing battle where Cristiano Ronaldo was concerned. He'd managed to convince the Portuguese star to extend his stay at United by 12 months, but in 2009, he was powerless when Real Madrid submitted an £80m offer for the attacker. To rub salt in the wound, Carlos Tevez also departed following the expiration of his two-year loan spell.

United had lost two players that had been key to their success in the 2008 Champions League, yet the replacements were hardly ones that inspired. Only Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen, Gabriel Obertan and Mame Biram Diouf were recruited and unsurprisingly, United ended the 2009-10 campaign empty handed.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez celebrate the latter's goal for Manchester United on January 21, 2008.© Getty Images

4. Bebe

When news broke in 2010 of Bebe's signing, United fans scrambled onto YouTube. Who was Bebe? Now, YouTube has a reputation of being able to make any player look like a world beater, but Bebe was a bridge too far for the site. The first video showed the Portuguese winger attempt an overhead kick, only to completely miss the ball. As someone that grew up in a homeless shelter, Bebe had barely played any senior football, but that did not prevent Ferguson from spending almost £8m on the Portugal youth international.

He's made just seven (disappointing) appearances since his arrival and has spent the last three campaigns out on loan. Consequently, big questions have been asked over Ferguson's decision to sign a player that he had never seen in action - not even on video. And what role did agent Jorge Mendes have in the deal? What's more, it was recently revealed that Ferguson turned down the chance to sign Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez at the same time for just £5m.

Bebe powers his way past Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley.© Getty Images

5. Paul Pogba

Ferguson and former chief executive David Gill have both stated that Pogba was offered good terms to remain with United, but that greed got the better of the youngster. There have also been suggestions that Pogba's agent - the highly controversial Mino Raiola - riled Ferguson throughout the negotiations. Even so, Pogba's talent was there for all to see and for that reason alone, many felt that heaven and earth should have been moved to retain the protege.

Instead, Ferguson placed his faith in Tom Cleverley and in one game against Blackburn Rovers, used a central midfield pairing of Rafael da Silva and Park Ji-Sung, while Pogba remained on the bench. A week later, veteran Paul Scholes was coaxed out of retirement and it became apparent that Pogba's days with United were numbered. Two years after leaving, he's produced performances with Juventus and France that have most people believing that he will be one of the world's best midfielders in time.

Paul Pogba in action for Manchester United against West Bromwich Albion on March 11, 2012.© Getty Images

Paolo Di Canio, then of West Ham United, celebrates scoring against Manchester United in the FA Cup on January 28, 2001.
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