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With the ongoing problems caused by the foreign player rule in European competition, Alex Ferguson bolstered his defence in 1994 with the purchase of Blackburn defender David May for £1 million. May started his career with the Blackburn side as a schoolboy and progressed through the ranks until he became their first choice centre back. He was part of the Blackburn side that won promotion to the Premiership in 1991-92 but was a Manchester United player when they won the Premiership in 1995.

Upon his arrival, many saw David May as a long term replacement for Steve Bruce, but with the United captain's partnership with Gary Palliser as solid as ever, May was deployed as a right back. It was a position he was not suited to at all and as a result his first season at Old Trafford was one of frustration.

Not until the following season when Bruce left did May get a regular chance at playing through the centre of defence and by the end of the season he was first choice alongside Gary Pallister. In 1996-97 he enjoyed his most fruitful season, forming a championship winning defensive partnership with Pallister and playing the best football of his career. The odd important goal was thrown in as well, including a memorable opening goal against FC Porto in the European Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford.

May was rewarded for his excellent form by a call-up to Glenn Hoddle's England squad in March 1997, but he was forced to withdraw through injury. 1997-98 was a less successful year for May as Ronny Johnsen and Henning Berg began to stake strong claims for places in the United defence. A string of injuries then struck which ruled him out for the majority of the season and he became Old Trafford's forgotten man, playing only a handful of matches.

His return to fitness in time for 1998-99 was offset by the arrival of £10.75 million defender Jaap Stam from PSV Eindhoven. May's prospects of a first team berth were diminshing rapidly and he was left languishing in the reserves for much of the season. Nevertheless he picked up a Premiership winners medal but his future at Old Trafford remains uncertain.


Patrick Eustace 2000. Last modified on Thurs, 27 Jan, 2000

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