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08th Apr 2017

Federico Macheda opens up on his two huge regrets from his time at Manchester United

Remember him?

Darragh Murphy

Manchester United fans have a hard time forgetting about Federico Macheda.

The second his name is mentioned, supporters’ minds are cast back to his stunning winner against Aston Villa in April, 2009.

In the third minute of injury time, the young Italian stepped up on his debut and fired home the winner that returned the Red Devils to the summit of the Premier League table and they never relinquished that position as they lifted the league trophy eight games later.

But a series of loan spells and an unsuccessful stint at Cardiff has hampered Macheda’s progress and he now finds himself in Italy’s second tier, Serie B, where he is plying his trade with Novara.

In an eye-opening interview with ESPN, Macheda has looked back on his time at Manchester United and revealed his regret about how he did not seize that huge opportunity with as much discipline as he perhaps should have.

“I’m still only 25; I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked,” Macheda said. “I eat better than I ever have; I train before training. I don’t do the minimum anymore like I did at United. I’ll regret that for all my life, but I’m still young. I don’t want any more regrets.”

When put to him that former teammate Nemanja Vidic had claimed that Macheda didn’t work as hard as he could have, the striker agreed.

“He’s right. Maybe I was just happy to be there. Maybe I didn’t push myself to the limit to make the next step because I felt that I had the faith of the manager. Fergie loved me. I was happy with my life but maybe I was too happy — with a big contract — and should have pushed myself a lot more.”

But that wasn’t Macheda’s only regret from his time working under Alex Ferguson.

He has also admitted that he made a huge error in judgement in insisting upon a loan move to an Italian side in 2011, when his manager made it clear that he would have preferred to see Macheda move to an English club so that he could be more easily monitored.

“I wanted to play in Italy, in Serie A,” Macheda explained. “Fergie did not agree and said I should play in England, where he could keep an eye on me. He said he didn’t have the same power in Italy. I insisted on Italy and that was the worst mistake of my life.

“I should have listened to Fergie. Sampdoria had been in the Champions League playoff that season; they had a good team. I was going to replace Antonio Cassano and play up front with [Giampaolo] Pazzini. I started well and scored straight away against Udinese, then started against Milan, Napoli, Juventus, Roma.

“But then they sold Pazzini to Inter Milan. I was only 19; I couldn’t take the responsibility that he had. We went down the table and I started to get strong criticism, with people saying: ‘He’s come from Man United; who does he think he is?’ For the first time in my life my confidence dropped.”