The 4 players Man Utd signed alongside Wayne Rooney and how they fared

Quick Reads

After starring for England at Euro 2004, Wayne Rooney decided to leave boyhood club Everton and completed a £27million move to Manchester United

Rooney enjoyed a dream debut against Fenerbahce and developed into one of the best players in the world, winning five Premier League titles and the Champions League with the Red Devils.

But he wasn’t the only arrival at Old Trafford that summer, and we’ve taken a closer look at the other four players the Red Devils signed ahead of the 2004-05 season.


Gabriel Heinze

After joining United from PSG, Heinze enjoyed a brilliant debut season at the club, winning the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award.

During his time at Old Trafford, he also managed to get on the wrong side of Roy Keane and was knocked unconscious by the former United captain.

“We lost a game and I went in the dressing room first and Roy Keane was second. I liked to go first after the game; I didn’t want to speak to anyone as we lost,” Heinze told Pura Quimica in 2017.

“I didn’t understand English, just the bad words. I heard my name and ‘f*ck off’ by Roy Keane, the best player.

“I knew that was bad so I stood up to him, this idol of Manchester, this great guy who everyone loved, and replied, ‘F**k off, you.’ I don’t remember what happened next.”

The former Argentina international then fell behind Patrice Evra in the pecking order before famously demanding a transfer to Liverpool in 2007.

Ferguson insisted that Heinze would not at any point be allowed to sign for their arch-rivals and sold him to Real Madrid instead. 

Alan Smith

Having come up through the academy at Leeds United, Smith controversially crossed the Pennines to join Manchester United in the summer of 2004.

He enjoyed a promising debut season at Old Trafford but his career was nearly over when he suffered a sickening broken leg and dislocated ankle against Liverpool in February 2006. 

Despite scoring in that 7-1 win over Roma, the midfielder never fully recovered from the injury and was sold to Newcastle United in 2007.

READ: A detailed recollection of Manchester United’s 7-1 win over Roma, 2007

Gerard Pique

A La Masia academy graduate, Pique moved to United as a 17-year-old and was tipped for a bright future at Old Trafford. 

But he struggled to break up the incredible centre-back partnership between Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, making just 23 first-team appearances for the club. 

Sir Alex Ferguson had seen enough of the defender to deem he was not suitable to English football following a defeat at Bolton in November 2007. 

“After two years in England, [Sir Alex Ferguson] told me that I was going to play about 25 games that season,” Pique told The Players’ Tribune in 2018.

“Everything started well. I was getting to play a bit alongside Rio. And then, in November, we went to play in Bolton.

“Sh*t…I can still picture the ball floating in the air. It was a set-piece. I was supposed to be marking Nicolas Anelka. Bolton chipped the ball into the box, and I thought, ‘I’m going to be aggressive.’

“I jumped up to head the ball away, and I completely missed it. It was like something out of a nightmare. The ball just…kept floating. It was that yellow and purple Premier League ball. Remember that one? It floated right over my head like a balloon.

“I landed and turned around in horror. Anelka controlled the ball and scored easily. We ended up losing 1-0, and it was my fault.”

Pique was allowed to return to Barcelona at the end of that season and has gone on to win pretty much every available honour for club and country.

Liam Miller

Miller joined United on a free transfer upon the expiration of his Celtic contract but was never really given a chance in the team, making just nine Premier League appearances for the club. 

After a loan spell at Leeds United, the midfielder joined Sunderland on a permanent deal in 2006 and worked under former team-mate Roy Keane.

“Things happened, I suppose for a reason,” Miller told The Scotsman in 2009. “Manchester United didn’t work out but I have no regrets about giving it a go.”

He finished his playing career in America and tragically passed away aged just 36 in 2018 due to pancreatic cancer.


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