FOOTBALL: UNITED THEY FALL: LOSERS OF A TREBLE CHANCE SEASON

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The Independent Online
Brian Kidd: The long-time right-hand man to Alex Ferguson and veteran of United's only European Cup victory in 1968 was lured away by Jack Walker's millions only to tumble from the top flight against his mentor.

Liverpool FC: In the doldrums as the 1990s draw to a close, their biggest rivals now threaten to eclipse their greatest achievements of the Seventies and Eighties.

Gary Pallister: Double-winning defender moved to Middlesbrough for pounds 2.5m despite still needing a Champions' League gong to embellish an impressive medal collection.

Kevin Pilkington: Peter Schmeichel's understudy since 1992 left for Port Vale last summer and missed his chance to stake a claim as the Dane's permanent successor at the end of this season.

Matt Jansen/Ashley Ward: Brian Kidd's jinxed pounds 8.6m strikeforce have now been relegated no fewer than three times each - Jansen with Palace last season and Carlisle previously, and Ward with Barnsley last term and Norwich in the past. Jansen turned down Manchester United in favour of Blackburn as he would be guaranteed first-team football - true enough, but only in the First Division.

Rupert Murdoch: Initially given the green light by Peter Mandelson, BSkyB's Old Trafford takeover bid was shown the red card when the trade chief was substituted late in the game following a professional foul.

Philip Mulryne: Briefly shone as a new Fergie Fledgling with a hat-trick in a pre-season friendly against Birmingham, but the Northern Ireland attacking midfielder's chances were always scarce behind Beckham, Giggs, Scholes and Blomqvist. Flew the nest to Norwich in March for pounds 500,000.

Jordi Cruyff: Ferguson's pounds 1.3m signing from Barcelona has been kicking his heels on loan at Celta Vigo since January.

Ben Thornley: The lost graduate from a dream youth team which spawned the Nevilles, Giggs, Scholes, Beckham et al. Now plies his trade at Huddersfield, who picked him up for pounds 175,000 a year ago, and has scored just five since.

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