Where are they now? Man Utd’s 11 wonderkids from FM 2012
Back when Football Manager 2012 was released in October 2011, Sir Alex Ferguson was still in charge of Manchester United and things were looking pretty good.
United had taken 20 points from the first 24 on offer, unbeaten in their opening eight games of the 2011-12 season. Although two days after the game hit the shelves, United were beaten 6-1 at home by Manchester City.
Still, while Ferguson’s men failed to retain their title and went trophyless that campaign, they pushed City all the way to the dying seconds of the final day. The club looked in decent shape and boasted a number of highly-rated emerging talents.
FM Scout picked out 11 talented youngsters on United’s books at the time as fabled Football Manager ‘wonderkids’ – but where are they now, a decade after the game’s release?
David de Gea
De Gea arrived at Old Trafford in June 2011 from Atletico Madrid and, whilst it took him time to get settled, he would go on to establish himself as one of the world’s greatest shot-stoppers.
At times throughout the post-Ferguson era, it would be fair to say de Gea almost single-handedly kept United afloat.
Still at Old Trafford a decade on, the Spaniard has returned to some of his best form this year after coming under criticism the past few seasons. And he’s not been afraid to speak his mind after his first-hand experience of how far the great club have fallen.
It’s fair to say that Jones has had some rocky years at Old Trafford after joining Manchester United as one of the most exciting young defenders in England.
He did not make a single appearance in 2020-21 due to injury problems but has returned to the periphery in 2021-22, with four appearances under Ralf Rangnick.
“I’ve been to hell and back,” he said to the official Manchester United website last year. “I think as a footballer, as a person, as a human being, that’s the lowest I probably ever felt in my life.”
Now back in his native Brazil with Botafogo, the right-back’s passion both on and off the pitch made him a cult hero at United where he is still held in high regard by supporters.
The other half of the Sunshine Kids, Fabio came to Old Trafford with his twin brother.
Whilst there was probably no shortage of Football Manager saves that had the two as world-beating full-backs on either side of the defence, Fabio was unable to establish a regular place in the United starting XI and was hampered by injury.
He now plays for Nantes in France after stints with Cardiff and Middlesbrough.
Norwegian Daehli moved to Manchester United as a youth player in February 2011.
In the summer of 2012, he was fast-tracked from the under-18s to the reserve side. A midfielder, he impressed over the course of the season, winning the club’s Young Player of the Year award.
Then-manager of Molde, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer liked what he saw and Daehli moved back to Norway to join Solskjaer’s team as a senior player at just 18 years old.
He followed Solskjaer to Cardiff in 2014 but failed to impress after his manager was sacked and left for Freiburg in January 2015. Nowadays he turns out for Bundesliga II side FC Nurnberg.
Not sure what happened to this guy, anyone know?
Pogba moved up from the United youth ranks to the senior setup in 2011 but grew frustrated at a lack of game time over the course of the season, leaving for Juventus on a free only to return as the most expensive footballer in the world.
The World Cup winner looks set to depart on a free for a second time this summer, following five disappointingly trophyless seasons. Not the best bit of business United have done in recent years.
A few years before he burst onto the scene as the next big thing, Januzaj signed for United from Anderlecht in March 2011 at the age of 16.
He was already held in high regard by those at Old Trafford but a frenzy around the young Belgian began when he scored twice against Sunderland on his full debut in 2013 to complete a comeback win.
Given the No.11 shirt, he suffered from the unrealistic expectations that were heaped upon him but has found a home at Real Sociedad.
We won’t give you any spoilers, but it’s been a well-travelled career for Morrison – widely regarded as the standout talent from Carrington a decade ago – with 12 clubs in total.
He’s arguably enjoyed the best spell of his career turning out for Wayne Rooney’s Derby County this season. He was unable to do the impossible and save the beleaguered Rams from the drop, but the 29-year-old has done his reputation no harm at all.
When Petrucci left his boyhood club Roma for Manchester United in 2008 it caused a stir in the Italian media.
United had to pay only minimal compensation to the Italian club for the highly-rated 16-year old as Roma was not allowed to sign him on a professional contract until he turned 17 owing to Italian labour regulations.
Part of the reserve set up in 2011, he lifted that season’s Premier Reserve League title as captain but was unable to break through into the first team.
After a series of loans, his contract was mutually terminated at the end of the 2014 summer window and he moved to Romanian side CFR Cluj for free, embarking on a journeyman career. He now plays in Israel for Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
In 2011, Welbeck had just returned to Old Trafford after a successful loan spell with Sunderland.
The English striker was a highly-rated youth prospect and became a regular in the United setup over the following seasons before Louis van Gaal let him go to Arenal on deadline day in August 2014. Nowadays he’s still cropping up with the odd important contribution for goal-shy Brighton & Hove Albion.
The second Italian on this list is much better known, owing to that goal against Aston Villa.
However, 2011 was two years on from his curling effort and Macheda was struggling for game time. After a loan spell at Sampdoria the previous season, he couldn’t regain his place in the United setup and left on loan again in January 2012.
He has since found a home at Greek side Panathinaikos.
Federico Macheda vs Aston Villa will forever be iconic! ⚽️ 🔥
— OldTraffordFaithful (@OTFaithful) July 7, 2020