Bébé arrived at Old Trafford under a cloud of mystery, a cloud that subsequently rained on him. How had a player who’d only featured in friendly games for Vitória – his current Portuguese top tier club- be signed by United for over £7 million? How could a player who many- erroneously- claimed had recently taken part in the World Homeless Cup be playing for the two time World Club Champions? Something didn’t seem right, even Sir Alex Ferguson admitted to signing the winger without ever having seeing him play- a first for the manager in his long career, while there were rumours only three months before his multi million pound transfer Bébé had been available for free.
Regardless of how and why he’d ended up at United, the press may have warmed to his rags to riches tale if it wasn’t for rumours circulating that he was performing well under the expected level in training and the club were reluctant to let him play in any reserve games where his inadequacies couldn’t be seen. At the time the Mirror noted:
Manchester United’s surprise signing Bebe is struggling so badly in training that he was pulled out of a reserve game last night, it has been claimed.
The former Portuguese street kid, who cost £7million from Vitoria de Guimaraes was supposed to make his debut against Manchester City’s second-string Elite Squad but was withdrawn after discussions between Sir Alex Ferguson and Old Trafford reserve team coach Ole Gunnar Solksjaer.
In all my years supporting United I cannot recall a player actually getting stick from the media BEFORE he’s even kicked a competitive ball, it seemed Bébé’s dream move was beginning to look slightly less enchanting. Then came the appearances and to be fair to Bébé two goals in three starts (with four as sub) doesn’t exactly make embarrassing reading.
Perhaps a loan move might be best for all concerned, give the young winger the chance to get away from the media circus that had engulfed him at United- with reporters seemingly desperate for him to fail- and allow him to get some regular first team action with a view to a permanent move. No one could really blame United for wanting to get rid of a player who’d suffered so much abuse and seemed on a bit of a hiding to nothing.
The loan move proved disastrous though, with Bébé injuring his cruciate ligament while on international duty less than two months after he’d joined the Turkish outfit. As if the injury wasn’t bad enough when Bébé did return he was banished to the reserves after breaking curfew to apparently stay out nightclubbing with two team mates.
Besiktas coach Tayfur Havutcu said at the time :This is not the place to vacation. Besiktas have rules and discipline which the players have to obey. It is not allowed, except in reasonable hours, to be inside nightclubs.
It’s difficult not to feel just a tad bit sorry for Bébé after all, he’s a young man who’s had so many difficulties since being thrust into the limelight, who now finds himself in yet another foreign country, breaking a curfew may have been foolish but it’s hardly criminal.
On his return to United Bébé even managed to play a couple of games in the club’s pre-season tour of South Africa bagging himself a goal in the draw with Ajax Cape Town before being loaned out to Rio Ave in his native Portugal.
Bébé has enjoyed a fairly successful spell back home with 13 appearances and a couple of goals for the mid-table outfit.
Recently we’ve seen the winger back in the headlines following an interview where he spoke about his difficulties at United.
Several papers alleged Bébé was blaming Sir Alex for his problems, with the Metro running the headline: Manchester United flop Bebe has attacked Sir Alex Ferguson for ruining his career at Old Trafford following his bizarre arrival from Vitoria de Guimaraes.
Yet is this entirely true? Let’s look at what Bébé actually said: “I never took Manchester United seriously — and never understood a word Alex Ferguson was saying.
“I thought ‘I’m here, I’m doing well and I don’t have to try hard every day’.
“It was my fault. I was messing around too much.”
Hardly seems like a stinging criticism of anyone but himself.
I sympathise with Bébé, he was thrust into the world’s biggest club when he was nowhere near ready, either football wise or perhaps even mentally, such is the pressure that goes with signing for Manchester United. Then he had to contend with the media lambasting him before he’d even played, questioning the legality of his transfer- hardly his fault- and being generally lampooned by everyone, including his own fans.
It seems Bébé playing for United again – at least in a competitive capacity- is about as likely as Anderson ordering a salad for dinner and I for one genuinely hope his loan move at Rio Ave works out for him and leads to something permanent. It’s obvious United should never have signed a player so bereft of any top level experience, particularly without anyone from the club having seen him play.
Bébé may go down in folklore as a Ralph Milne for the twitter generation but perhaps we’re being harsh on a young lad who never stood a chance.
“Don’t blame it on the sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight, don’t blame it on the good times, blame it on the Bébé…”
Have I been too kind on the winger or is the stick he gets over the top? Feel free to comment suggest and abuse below:
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