Jesper Blomqvist first came to the attention of Manchester United fans during his destructive
performances against the Reds in the 1994/95 Champions' League
campaign. Playing for Swedish champions Gothenburg, Blomqvist was the
inspiration behind their 3:1 home win over United in December 1994,
a result which virtually ended United's European adventure that year.
He scored the opening goal, set up the second and won the penalty which led
to the third.
At that time he had been labelled Sweden's answer to Ryan Giggs so it was
ironic that four years later both players were to be fighting it out for the wide left
position in the United lineup. It was this very fact that nearly called a halt to
his transfer from Parma in July 1998 when Jesper proclaimed that he did not want
to play second fiddle to Giggs. An understandable statement considering he
had spent 12 months of frustration on the Milan bench back in 1996/97.
A troulesome ankle injury kept Blomqvist out
of action for the start of the season and it wasn't until mid-September that he
made his debut at Arsenal. It wasn't a particularly memorable occasion for Blomqvist
or United as they went down 3:0 at Highbury and judging by his performance there
was still a lot of settling in to be done for the Swede.
Throughout the season Blomqvist burned hot and cold for United, scoring only one
goal in the away win at Everton. His performances could be classed as frustrating
more than anything else, his skill with the ball at his feet are unquestionable, as
his pace and work ethic. But far too often his wasted all his hard work getting into
a good position only to let himself and the team down with a poor final ball.
Needless to say his first season at United didn't live up to expectations but it did
end with a starting place in the European Cup final, but again he looked far too
lightweight on the big stage and was substituted for Teddy Sheringham in the second half.
With a full season under his belt at United, Blomqvist's initial fears for his first team
place were well founded. Ryan Giggs he is not and when fit the Welshman is always going
to be United's first choice left winger.