As United plan to scour the market for a tough tackling midfielder this summer, it’s easy to forget a former hard man who Alex Ferguson apparently planned to build his team around had it not been for some unbelievably bad luck.
Looking back at the career of Remi Moses’, there’s one question that United fans – and probably Remi himself – will always ask… What could he have been achieved if it hadn’t been for those injuries?
Despite the ball winning midfielder playing much of his injury ravaged career in the shadow of his more famous – yet just as injury prone colleague Bryan Robson – he will always be appreciated by the United faithful, mainly due to the fact that he was often relied upon to do the jobs that nobody else could.
It’s fair to say he was seen as a player whose job was to let the more creative members of the team have the time and space they needed (‘win the ball and give it to Robbo’ was apparently an instruction often given to Remi), but this should not be a criticism of a player whose ability and ferocity as a central midfielder was up there with the best of them and allowed him to dictate play like few others could.
It was as an academy player at West Brom that Moses made it into first team action at The Hawthorns and along with his fellow midfield dynamo Bryan Robson, quickly forged a formidable partnership in the centre of the park.
And it was no coincidence that the ‘Baggies’ achieved three top four finishes in four seasons while Moses and Robson were plying their trade – earning them a place in the UEFA Cup as a result.
But when the Albion manager Ron Atkinson was lured to Old Trafford in 1981 Moses’ future looked to be uncertain to say the least.
However, Atkinson saw great things for his former midfield generals and wasted no time in not only taking the future England captain with him to Manchester but his midfield henchman too in what should have been the break that Moses so deserved in a transfer reportedly worth £500,000.
To begin with it appeared that he was more than up to the challenge as he thrived in his new surroundings, and as well as making a name for himself as something of a fan favourite, his goal against Middlesbrough was notable for the fact that it was the first goal ever scored for United by a black player.
And ironically, despite being signed as part of a pair with Bryan Robson, it was often in the skipper’s absence that Remi would enjoy his greatest moments. Most noticeably when United faced Juventus in the semi final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup semi final in 1984 – giving as good as he got against Michel Platini in a superb all-round performance.
But unfortunately for United fans, and more so Moses himself, this was to be one of few highlights in his Old Trafford career as a series of injuries restricted his progress over the following seasons.
The 1984/85 seasons saw Moses starting the first 38 games in all competitions and playing some of his best football at the heart of United’s midfield – something which resulted in him winning a call up to the England squad – but he would never collect his cap as injury once again dealt him a savage blow. A knee injury ruling him out for the rest of the season and meaning he also missed the FA Cup final win over Everton.
Perhaps surprisingly to those who knew him, it wasn’t just injury that would hinder Moses’ career as disciplinary matters would also cast a shadow over a man who only measured just over 5’ 6” with one incident in particular would make the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Considered a quiet man off the field Moses took an exception to new signing Jesper Olsen’s challenge in a training session and his retaliation resulted in the Dane requiring several stitches and would also cost Moses two weeks’ wages.
His anger was also felt by former team mate and Welsh international Clayton Blackmore, who once received a thump from Moses after a particularly heavy training ground tackle, only for the real culprit to be identified as Graeme Hogg.
Things appeared to be looking up at the beginning of the 1985/86 season as Moses found himself on the bench for the Charity Shield at Wembley against the team United had beaten just three months earlier – Everton.
This, of course, was the season notable for being United’s greatest start to a league campaign as they won their first ten games on the bounce and unbeaten in 15.
But Moses would play a limited role in this incredible unbeaten streak before he was cruelly struck down once again, suffering a badly twisted ankle in the game against Liverpool, which would signal the beginning of the end.
And despite another two seasons on the comeback trail from a string of injuries, particularly a troublesome knee problem, Moses finally called it a day in 1989.
Since his retirement Moses has branched out from football.
As well as venturing into the property development game, the former United hard-man also helps coach the Manchester Warriors under 20 inline skating side, which has since won the Great Britain inline Hockey League.
He still has close links to the club and occasionally coaches Old Trafford FC as part of the ‘unity in the community’ scheme.
But there’s no doubt that when this Manchester lad reflects on his career at United, he could be forgiven for thinking, ‘what could have been?’