The Blind Venetian – Worst XI

The Worst X1

Matt Le Tissier will always be fondly remembered for his outrageous goals, scored in the early years of the Premier League era. One of his efforts though, will bring back sobering thoughts from Manchester United fans.

Le Tissier, picking up the ball midway into United’s half, took one touch out of his feet and seeing he had nothing else on, sent a low daisy cutter towards the scoreboard end goal, and seemingly into the arms of United keeper, Massimo Taibi. Seconds later, Taibi was to be fishing the ball out of his net, after the ball had squirmed first through his hands, and then through his legs. Jaap Stam and 75,000 other punters, looking on in disbelief.

When Peter Schmeichel announced he was to leave after the final game of the treble winning campaign, United looked at replacing the ‘great Dane’. Mark Bosnich was to be brought in from Aston Villa to take the number one shirt. The season began with the Aussie between the sticks but injury to both Bosnich and reserve goalkeeper Raymond Van der Gouw, led to Sir Alex Ferguson looking elsewhere for a keeper.

Massimo Taibi was signed from Italian outfit, Venezia in the autumn of 1999. The fee was believed to be around £4 million. A debut away at arch rivals Liverpool, was about to become a baptism of fire for Taibi. An unknown to fans and players alike as the new United player had hardly any time to get to know his team mates. If you was going to make your debut and try to keep under the radar, then playing at Anfield is not the place to do so. A hostile atmosphere for away players awaits, specially when United roll into town.

A free kick wide on Liverpool’s left was swung in and Taibi flapped at the cross, leading to a Sami Hypia goal. United would go on to win this tie 3-2, and even after the error leading to the goal, Taibi’s saves would eventually land him the ‘man of the match’ award. Not too bad then. The future is in safe hands…or so we thought.

The trip to Stamford Bridge and Chelsea, would not prove as fruitful. United would go on to lose 5-0, their first defeat in nearly a year. Though the Italian stopper could not be fully blamed for the defeat, he never covered himself in glory either.

Oh when the saints, go marching in… to Old Trafford and jump back on the team bus with a point, Sir Alex knew then that maybe, just maybe, this keeper was not going to cut it at Old Trafford. A 3-3 draw with Southampton and a Matt Le Tissier pea roller, put pay to the career for Massimo at United. Only four times would Taibi wear the number one jersey before he was packed back off to Italy and Reggina.

The first pick of my worst XI has been chosen. Ladies and gentleman I present to you, the ‘Blind Venetian’

About the Author

John McNicoll
Southern Red and Football enthusiast.