Worst XI: Meet the Italian manning the line!

The Worst X1

 

That was the end of the nominations of the Readers’ Choice Worst Manchester United XI. It’s now time for to reveal the Chosen Ones for this not-so-elite XI.

We started with the man between the sticks in the polls and now to reveal that man!

The nominated players were – Roy Carrol, Ricardo, Fabian Barthez, Thomas Kuszczak and Massimo Taibi. To be honest, the results were not a major surprise as our very own Blind Venetian is the runaway winner with close to 80% of votes.

So, what amateurish moment(s) on the pitch did Taibi commit that sees him walk his way into this side.

BIG GLOVES TO FILL

United arguably had the best goalkeeper in the world in Peter Schmeichel guarding the sticks, it was always going to be gargantuan task to replace the Great Dane. But really, Massimo Taibi of all people?

Signing a journeyman to replace someone of Schmeichel’s calibre was always going to turn out to be mistake in the long term. Taibi’s arrival marked a period during which Sir Alex had trouble with the ‘goalkeeping problem’.

Massimo Taibi signed in 1999, just after the Treble for a fee of about £4.4m, a big sum back in the day. Sir Alex now had three goalkeepers trying to outdo each other on the field. Mark Bonsich (could have been a controversial honourable mention) and Raimond van der Gouw jostled with Taibi for the No.1 position. Injuries to the former two meant Taibi started the season as first choice. It was not the worst of starts for the Italian.

BRIGHT START

Massimo Taibi was thrown straight into the cauldron in his debut for United after being chosen to face bitter-rivals Liverpool. The match started in the worst possible way for poor Taibi as he flapped at the ball allowing Sami Hyppia to score. Bad start right, so you must be wondering why I have started with “Bright Start”.

Well, things got much better for Taibi. He made a number of top drawer saves to deny Liverpool time and time again. One of the highlights of his match was the stop to prevent Vladimir Smicer from scoring one-on-one. United ended up winning 3-2 and Taibi was deservedly named Man of the Match for his heroics.

But this was as good as it got for him.

THAT GAFFE

Massimo Taibi’s display at Liverpool would have edged him ahead of his two competitors for the starting berth on the field. But the match against Southampton changed everything.

Let me take you down memory lane to the moment of madness from Taibi. Matt Le Tissier picks the ball up over 10 yards from the box. Yes 10 yards from the box. The tamest of shots from the Saint slips between Taibi’s legs and rolls agonisingly slowly over the goal line. Reactions from the fans behind the goal tell the story.

Tabloids named him the ‘Blind Venetian’ and the name stuck.

FIZZLED OUT

Massimo Taibi made just four appearances for United but I’m sure a number of the Old Trafford faithful must have had an anxiety attack or two watching an opposition player take a swipe at the goal guarded by the No.1 in this Worst XI. He was also the manning the goal when United were destroyed 5-0 by a rampant Chelsea.

Massimo Taibi was sold at the end of the season as Ferguson decided to cut his losses.

WHERE’S HE AT?

Massimo Taibi is presently retired. After quitting United, he moved back to his native Italy. He found stability at Atalanta in the Serie A and made over 150 appearances for them. Taibi even has a goal to his credit.

Massimo Taibi called it a day in 2009 after two seasons with Ascoli Calcio. To his credit, the Blind Venetian has 539 appearances and 1 goal through the course of his career.