The Story of Giuliano Maiorana

As the ‘Class of 92’ hit cinemas last week, we take a look at the story of Giuliano Maiorana, one of the original ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’ whose rapid rise from non-league football to the Manchester United first team is likely to never be repeated.

When Giuliano first heard that United were looking at him, he thought it was a joke; he was playing non- league football for Histon part time and had already been turned down by Cambridge United, Brentford and Norwich City.

He was given a trial but wasn’t very hopeful: “When I found out United were looking at me, I honestly thought it was a wind up considering I was 19 at the time, and bearing in mind that Cambridge United had told me on a few occasions that I wasn’t good enough for them. I thought my one week trial at Manchester United would come to nothing, other than a week of experience with a massive club”.

In only the second day of his trial, Giuliano was picked in the squad to play in a testimonial match for Birmingham City’s Ian Handyside and performed so well that he was offered a four-year contract after being substituted at half time: “Being picked to play in Ian Handyside’s testimonial was a big surprise to me, it was a Tuesday night and before the game I got told I was in the starting line-up which shocked me even more because it was with the first team squad.”

“Playing in front of 10,000 people was nerve racking but luckily for me I didn’t do too bad, I got a penalty and at half-time they brought me off and offered me a four year contract straight away. It took me only around six weeks to break into the first team. My scout Ray Medwell told me what I had achieved would not happen again, because at the time Histon were five leagues below the old fourth division”.

Giuliano's rise from the ninth tier of English Football to the Theatre of Dreams, will likely never be repeated...

Giuliano’s rise from the ninth tier of English Football to the Theatre of Dreams, will likely never be repeated…

The transfer fee United paid Histon saved them from going out of business and Maiorana made his debut on 14th January 1989, coming on as a substitute in a league match against Millwall at Old Trafford, and remembers feeling slightly overwhelmed by the situation he found himself in: “When I came on as a sub I remember after running down the wing, because I was breathing heavy, my ears kept blocking and unblocking, all I could hear fading in and out of my ears was United, United, United!”

“As this happened I looked around the stadium and suddenly it dawned on me the magnitude of the situation I was in. There were around 45,000 people at the game and considering only six weeks before I was playing in front of 50/60 people. I was used to watching professional games but all of a sudden I was thrust into a game, which the supporters were watching, that I was playing in, it was ridiculous and awe inspiring”.

The skilful left winger rose to prominence in his first start for the club with an exciting performance in a televised 1-1 draw against Arsenal, who finished the season as league champions. It looked like the start of a long and promising career and he was seen as a star of the future at Old Trafford.

Then a cruel twist of fate intervened, whilst playing in a reserve game in 1991 he suffered a serious knee injury after a tackle from Aston Villa’s Dwight Yorke, from which he was unable to fully recover. He never played for the first team again, eventually leaving the club and after a brief spell playing in Sweden he retired from the game at the age of 24.

Giuliano in action for United...

Giuliano in action for United…

In total Giuliano made eight appearances for United and looks back at his time at Old Trafford with mixed emotions: “Obviously playing for the first team was a dream, but the flip side was getting injured when I was 21 and having to retire at 24. A journalist once asked me after reading in a paper about the skill I had, if it made me feel proud.”

“I responded that I was very lucky to have been blessed with the skill I did have, but it would’ve made my life a hell of a lot easier if I didn’t have it and United would’ve released me because I wasn’t good enough, then at least I could’ve got on with my life thinking that I had given it a go and wasn’t good enough. Instead I’ve got a question mark over my career, that unfortunately for me I will never be able to answer.”

Now 44, Giuliano now works for his family’s upholstery business and still has some involvement in football: “I only play five-a-side now against friends, nothing serious just for enjoyment, getting too old for that. I also help coaching my son’s team. I’ve been doing that for around eight years and get a lot of pleasure and enjoyment doing it.”

Unlike many players whose careers are cut short by injury, Giuliano is happy and has been able to make a good life for himself away from football: “I’ve learnt with age that you always have to look at the positives and for me the positives of my time at United are that I met some really good people up in Manchester, my wife is from Salford and we have two wonderful kids, I’m blessed with a great family.”

“I may not be rich with the money I might have earned as a professional footballer, but I’m happy and rich with life, so I can’t complain.”

Michael Garvey

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Nearly But Not Quite // Manchester United F.C. – November

Fulham 1-3 Manchester United:

United recorded their most convincing win so far this season in the league by scoring three first-half goals in the space of 13 minutes to blow away a struggling Fulham side. It was the first time in the league this season that we have looked convincing and had the game won by half-time, meaning an indifferent second-half performance and the consolation goal scored by Kacaniklic was irrelevant.

Performance Rating: Grade B; a performance that especially in the first-half was reminiscent of United under Fergie, battering a struggling team and having the game won by half-time – made for a relaxed second half.

Real Sociedad 0-0 Manchester United:

An average performance and a forgettable result to match – The only thing this game will be remembered for is another of Ashley Young’s best Tom Daley impressions, to win a penalty that van Persie missed, says it all really!

Performance Rating: Grade D; despite it being an away European tie, Sociedad are one of the weakest teams in the Champions League this season and a team you would be expecting us to beat pretty comfortably.

Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal:

Super Sunday didn’t disappoint as United put in a solid performance to beat an Arsenal side that came into the match, several points clear at the top. The sort of game we had to win to stay in the title race and thankfully we did, due to van Persie making up for his midweek penalty miss by scoring a nice header from a corner.

There were to be no muted celebrations this time as RVP scored the winner against his old club.

There were to be no muted celebrations this time as RVP scored the winner against his old club.

Performance Rating: Grade A; a solid performance and the first time this season that we have beaten a team that is going to be up there, at the end of the season.

Cardiff 2-2 Manchester United:

South Wales is proving to be quite a tough place for the top teams this season, and it proved the same here as Cardiff fought back twice. Kim Bo-Kyung scored in injury time from a corner where Patrice Evra did his best impression of a plant pot. Rooney then missed a chance to win the game by trying to square the ball but his horrendous pass was seized on by the goalkeeper.

Performance Rating: Grade D; two points lost! Patrice Evra, I used to like you.

Bayer Leverkusen 0-5 Manchester United:

To beat a team like Bayer Leverkusen, by five goals away from home in Europe is a brilliant result. Qualification for the next round of the Champions League with a game to spare and by far Moyes’ best team performance as United manager to date.

Performance Rating: Grade A; Beating a team by five goals away from home in Europe, enough said!

Overall Rating: Grade B; some good results and performances from United, but we really need to kick on during December to ensure that we can at least compete for the title and secure a top four finish.

Michael Garvey

Moyes finding his feet // Manchester United – October

United headed into the month of October on the back of their worst start to a season in 24 years;  defeats in the league to Liverpool, Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion had meant new boss David Moyes found himself under increasing pressure as he struggled to maintain the standards that fans of this great club so desperately crave.

FC Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 Manchester United (Champions League)

Eastern Europe is always a tough place to go and things were looking better than expected at half-time as United went into the break, 1-0 up courtesy of a Danny Welbeck goal. However Shakhtar hit back late on in the second-half through Taison. United managed only one shot on target in the whole game but would have settled for taking a point away from the Ukraine before the game. The match was also notable for Ryan Giggs who came on to make his 145th appearance in the Champions League, surpassing Raul’s record.

Performance Rating: Grade C; A gritty performance in a difficult European tie.

Sunderland 1-2 Manchester United

United went into the game on Wearside looking for their first away win in the league since the opening day win at Swansea City. Things looked bad early on in the first half when Craig Gardner seized on a defensive error to give Sunderland the lead.

Januzaj repaid Moyes faith scoring twice to knock off Sunderland. (Image Courtesy of huffingtonpost.co.uk; no copyright intended

Januzaj repaid Moyes faith scoring twice to knock off Sunderland.
(Image Courtesy of Match Photography; no copyright intended)

Half-time came round and United went in trailing to a side rooted to the bottom of the table with the Red Devils’ looking a bit worse for wear; up stepped 18 year-old Adnan Januzaj to score two goals in the second-half on his first start for the club to win us the game.

Performance Rating: Grade C+; got the result we needed, job done!

Manchester United 1-1 Southampton

Another frustrating game at Old Trafford as Southampton snatched a late equaliser, taking a point back to St. Mary’s with them in the process. Robin Van Persie gave United the lead in the first-half and we had a number of chances to kill the game off but failed to take them. Then a lapse of concentration from a corner allowed Adam Lallana to score.

Performance Rating: Grade D; Another frustrating afternoon as once again we played poorly and failed to finish the game off.

Manchester United 1-0 Real Sociedad (Champions League)

A sold, if unspectacular performance saw the Red Devils’ take the lead after two minutes through an own goal and maintain it for the rest of the game. Both sides had chances in the second-half but failed to convert them.

Performance Rating: Grade B; A good win in Europe and another step closer to qualification for the next round.

Manchester United 3-2 Stoke City

Late second-half goals from Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez won the game for United as they fought back after going down twice to win the game at Old Trafford. Relief was the overriding emotion for all United fans at the final whistle as the team had looked lacklustre for long periods, but it was good to see the sort of fight-back that was trademark under Sir Alex Ferguson, giving the team a badly needed win at home.

Performance Rating: Grade B; Good to get 3 points at home, especially after coming from behind twice.

Manchester United 4-0 Norwich City (Capital One Cup)

A good comfortable win at home in the Capital One Cup, which might provide us a chance of some silverware this season. Two goals from “Chicarito” Hernandez and one each from Phil Jones and Fabio sealed a good solid win.

Performance Rating: Grade B; Good to win by four goals at home and will give the team much needed confidence.

Overall Rating: Grade B-; A solid month for the Red Devils’ after a very poor September. The main positive being staying unbeaten throughout the month, hopefully David Moyes’ team can kick on now and push towards the top of the table. Plenty of positives but still improvements to be made.

Michael Garvey