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Sir Alex Ferguson's 'Worst Ever Signing' Bought Himself Out Of Contract To Seal Manchester United Deal

Josh Lawless

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Sir Alex Ferguson's 'Worst Ever Signing' Bought Himself Out Of Contract To Seal Manchester United Deal

Sir Alex Ferguson's "worst ever signing" was recommended to him by the legendary Eric Cantona but ended up playing just two times.

In December 1995, Manchester United were in the middle of a injury crisis in central defence. Key senior defenders Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce and David May were all unavailable for selection.


United needed a new centre-back and quickly. Cantona suggested his mate, William Prunier, who he had played with at the Auxerre academy.

Image: PA
Image: PA

Prunier, 28, jumped at the chance to move to the Red Devils and bought himself out of his contract at Bordeaux to secure a dream transfer.

It was initially on a trial basis, the idea being that United could look at Prunier during training sessions and see if he was up to scratch.

But then that plan never worked out and due to another injury blow, this time to the uber reliable Denis Irwin, Prunier was thrown into deep-end.

He performed well in his debut, even getting an assist for Andy Cole in a 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers on 30 December.

Image: PA
Image: PA

He also smashed a long-range effort against the bar and looked like he could do a job for United.

But the second Premier League outing did not got anywhere near as smoothly after Ferguson had said it would be the real test for Prunier.

United, with their makeshift backline, travelled to White Hart Lane to play Spurs just days later and their preparations were affected by Paul Scholes falling ill before kick-off, and Peter Schmeichel pulling his calf but soldiering on as best he could for the first 45 minutes.

Image: PA
Image: PA

What followed was a crushing 4-1 defeat on New Year's Day, a result that put an end to Prunier's United experience.

He was said to have been offered an "extended trial" despite the player himself claiming a three-year deal was on the table but couldn't be thrashed out.

In his 2015 autobiography, 'Leading', Ferguson labelled Prunier as “a disaster” and he was voted as United's sixth worst-ever player in a poll.

Image: PA
Image: PA

Prunier amassed nearly 500 appearances and, in addition to winning the Intertoto Cup alongside Zinedine Zidane at Bordeaux, played for Auxerre, Copenhagen, Marseille, Napoli and Toulouse.

He did also sign a deal with Hearts but never played a single game after not feeling wanted.

Prunier was capped once by France and named in the 2002/03 Ligue One Team of the Year.

Asked if being described as a flop annoys him, Prunier told The Telegraph: "No, everyone thinks what they want. It was a very enriching experience, a dream and an honour, and I don’t regret it."

The 54-year-old embarked on a career in management and is currently assistant coach at Le Mans in the French third-tier.

Featured Image Credit: Image: PA

Topics: Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson, Premier League, Eric Cantona

Josh Lawless
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