However, after not progressing as much as the club hoped, he was allowed to leave for Blackpool at a bargain price at the start of this season.
“In the old days, they always claimed that if you left United the only way was down,” he said. “Some people even looked on it as the end of the world. The end of the dream, especially for a young guy like me. But loads of players leave United and go on to have great careers. I’m not an emotional or sentimental person anyway. I didn’t feel hurt in the slightest. Even though United had Vidic, Ferdinand, O’Shea and my old Northern Ireland mate Jonny Evans, I still thought there might be a chance. But when they signed Chris Smalling from Fulham, I realised the writing was on the wall. So when Ian Holloway said he was giving me the opportunity to play first-team football in the Premier League, I didn’t think twice.”
Ryan Shawcross (Stoke captain), Frazier Campbell (Sunderland) and Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover 96 – currently 3rd in Bundesliga) are examples of players who have gone on to make a success of their careers in the top flight after leaving United, whilst Darron Gibson is still at the club.