This Thursday Manchester United will go up against a semi-familiar face, with Zoran Tosic starring for Partizan Belgrade.
Tosic was one of two players United agreed to sign from Partizan Belgrade in 2009 along with Adem Ljajic, although the latter’s deal was cancelled before he kicked a ball for the club.
Tosic’s career at United was a peculiar one. The £7 million move was part of a spree of poor recruitment along with Gabriel Obertan and Bebe, but he was more clearly talented than both players.
Despite this, Tosic didn’t get the opportunities either player did at United, with Sir Alex Ferguson not convinced, despite impressive displays for the reserves.
His post-United career has been a good one, better than both aforementioned flops, and it is clear United never saw the best of him.
Tosic’s United spell
Tosic left United with just five first team appearances, and of these, just 20 minutes came in the Premier League.
The longest he played in a single game was for 37 minutes in a FA Cup win over Barnsley. With 79 minutes in total for the club, it’s accurate to say he never got a fair chance during his 18 months at United.
He did play for the reserves, and when he did, it was under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer.
This point was not lost on the United boss when the draw was made, he told the club website: “They’ve got Zoran of course who used to play here; I had [him as a player] in the reserves.”
He went on loan to German side Koln and impressed, scoring five goals in 14 games. But instead of being reintegrated into United’s team, he was sold.
Tosic later admitted this could have been a mistake. He told The Mail: “Maybe I should have stayed and fought for my place. This was Man United after all.”
Post United career
Tosic signed with CSKA Moscow permanently and this was where he really kicked on.
He scored 47 goals and provided 41 assists in 241 games, winning the Russian Premier League three times.
He even managed goals against Real Madrid and Manchester City in the Champions League.
In 2017 he returned to Partizan Belgrade and has scored 40 goals in 125 games. This season he has five goals and three assists already.
He is already excited about facing United, and says he hopes to score against us. It’s probably inevitable.
Tosic is now 32, and while he would probably admit he was not in the world class category, his post United career suggests he is probably better than some of the dross we have seen since.
He has gone onto play for Serbia 76 times, scoring 11 goals.
Sir Alex Ferguson should have done more to integrate him into his United side, instead Tosic felt he had to leave for the sake of his career.
He has played against United before, twice with CSKA Moscow. He didn’t win either game, and his 76 minutes at Old Trafford for the Russian side in 2015 was more than he managed there for us.
Tosic is clearly hoping it is third time lucky. It’s up to United’s defence to make sure his redemption story does not have a happy ending.
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