Manchester United are one of the most famous clubs in the world.
However, a host of players have discovered playing at ‘The Theatre of Dreams’ can quickly descend into a nightmare.
Donny van de Beek’s strop on the bench after failing to be introducing as a substitute in United’s 2-1 win over Villarreal in the Champions League the other week is a timely reminder of that.
The Dutchman has been patient since his £40m move from Ajax but finally lost his cool with boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Here, Mirror Football takes a look back at van de Beek and nine other stars who were left frustrated by their Old Trafford troubles.
Donny van de Beek
Van de Beek’s strop against Villarreal the other week made headlines across the country.
The Dutch midfielder has struggled to get much of a look-in at all since arriving in Manchester from Ajax, and that trend has continued this season – despite Solskjaer assuring the 24-year-old he’d be part of his plans this year.
He’s made just four Premier League starts since his 2020 arrival – a staggering stat when you consider the amount United forked out to sign him.
After realising Solskjaer was bringing on Fred as his final substitute in the Champions League clash with Villarreal, van de Beek visibly lost his cool., tossing his chewing gum down at the dugout and having to be physically consoled by United team-mates.
It remains to be seen if his touchline tantrum will impact his future with Solskjaer.
The Dutch midfielder certainly has work to do if he is to avoid being labelled as another United flop.
Angel di Maria
Di Maria’s spell at Old Trafford was tumultuous, to say the least.
The Argentine winger arrived at Old Trafford in a mega-money £59.7m deal from Real Madrid but failed to live up to the hype – so much so that he was offloaded after just one season in Manchester.
The 33-year-old had a string of bust-ups at United, including failing to turn up to pre-season as he tried to force a move away and publicly slamming ex-boss Louis van Gaal and the club’s iconic number seven shirt.
“My problem at Manchester was the coach. Van Gaal was the worst of my career. I would score, assist, and the next day he would show me my misplaced passes. He displaced me from one day to the other, he didn’t like players being more than him.”
Depay struggled to impress at United despite arriving as one of the hottest prospects in French football.
The ex-PSV star had been crowned France Football’s Best Young Player of the Year just prior to his switch to Old Trafford.
But he failed to convince Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho of his talents and was shipped out by United after netting just seven goals in 53 appearances.
And the frustrated Dutch winger defied advice from former team-mate Wayne Rooney as he searched for an exit.
Rooney told an interview with The Times : “Memphis? He came on at Stoke away and messed up for their goal so Louis van Gaal made him play for the reserves the next day.
“I said, ‘Look, it’s a bit difficult [for you]. Just don’t come in with all your fancy stuff.’
“And he turned up for the reserve game in his Rolls-Royce, wearing a leather jacket and a cowboy hat. And I just thought, ‘What’s the point?’
“But Memphis is a lovely lad and it’s good to see things going well for him now.”
PA Archive/PA Images)
United’s deal to sign Sanchez from Premier League rivals Arsenal captured the attention of the entire league following the Chilean’s red-hot form with the Gunners.
But Sanchez’s move to Old Trafford didn’t go as planned.
The attacker struggled for confidence and minutes in Manchester.
And things came to a head when the ex-Arsenal man was benched for the 3-1 derby day defeat against Manchester City – who, ironically, had also wanted to strike a deal for the 32-year-old.
The Sun revealed that Sanchez “slammed his boots down in the changing room” and was openly critical of the state of the defending following the drubbing, and continued to act distant days later when he left for international duty.
Sanchez was offloaded soon after, despite only being at the club for 18 months on a mammoth contract.
Zaha arrived at Old Trafford with a lot of hype surrounding him after starring for Crystal Palace.
But unfortunately for the winger, his spell at Old Trafford quickly became a nightmare.
His £12m signing was one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s final acts before stepping down as United boss, and Zaha didn’t enjoy the best of relationships with his predecessor, David Moyes or van Gaal.
Reports over Zaha’s alleged poor time-keeping and failing to impress Moyes after showing up to United’s pre-season tour in jeans and trainers rather than a club tracksuit may give a glimpse into why the Scot never gave Zaha a chance at Old Trafford.
The 28-year-old has proven doubters wrong since returning to Palace after just two years in Manchester, establishing himself as a top Premier League player.
Romero struggled to dislodge David de Gea after arriving at Old Trafford in 2015 under van Gaal.
Despite being United’s regular goalkeeper in cup competitions, Romero made just seven Premier League starts during his six years in Manchester.
Despite being surplus to requirements, United refused to sanction an exit for the frustrated veteran – leaving his wife to lash out at the club on social media.
She posted on Instagram: “Sergio Romero worked hard for his club. Last trophy they won, they lifted it with him.
“He helped the team reach four finals/semi-finals and then he was on the bench, only to lose them all. It is time for them to return the opportunity and let him go.
“RESPECT FOR ONCE!!!!”
Romero was finally released by the club this past summer.
Young established himself as a key United player during his nine-year stay at Old Trafford, even working his way up to become captain.
But after taking on a reduced role in his final season, Young grew frustrated and eventually resorted to drastic measures to secure a move to Italian giants Inter Milan.
The ex-Aston Villa ace reportedly stormed out of training after learning United had blocked Inter’s attempts to sign him.
It was a gutsy move, but one that worked, as United backtracked and gave Young their blessing to head to Serie A in a cut-price move.
At Barcelona, Valdes forged a reputation as one of the most reliable goalkeepers in Europe.
However, he soon found that reputation meant nothing when it came to pinning down a first team spot at Old Trafford.
After struggling for minutes, Valdes reportedly refused to play for the club’s reserves and fell out with van Gaal as a result.
The Dutchman ordered Valdes to train away from the first team squad following the row – despite Valdes winning three European Cups, six Liga titles and two Copa del Reys during his 12 years with Barca.
He made just two Premier League appearances in two years and he decided to bring the curtain down on his glittering career shortly afterwards following a stint with Middlesbrough.
Armenian ace Mkhitaryan arrived in Manchester as one of Europe’s brightest talents.
But the £30m signing struggled to cope with expectations at Old Trafford.
After struggling for a first team spot, his frustrations boiled over with boss Mourinho following an analysis session.
The Portuguese challenged Mkhitaryan over his defensive output, but the midfielder fired back and became embroiled in a row with the provocative former Chelsea boss.
It was a row that effectively halted the Armenian’s United career as he was offloaded to Arsenal as part of the Sanchez deal soon after.
Ruud van Nistelrooy
Van Nistelrooy has already etched his name into United history as one of the deadliest strikers to ever don the famous red shirt.
And he’s revealed that could have added to his stupendous tally of 150 goals in 219 games for the club had he kept his cool with old boss Ferguson.
After being dropped for the 2004 League Cup final against Wigan, van Nistelrooy launched into an astonishing attack on Ferguson – one which effectively ended his Old Trafford career.
“It started at the Carling Cup final, after an hour we were 4-0 ahead,” van Nistelrooy recalled. “I could not wait to get on as a substitute, to play half an hour and maybe score a goal and then go and lift the cup.
“It’s a big trophy after all, but first Kieran Richardson was put on. After that Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra, and Evra had only been at the club a few weeks.
“I exploded and started swearing at Ferguson. That was the killing moment.
“It was both our faults but we never made up after that. The relationship fell apart.”