Redcafe's favourite Manchester United players

matt10000

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Depends on how willing you are to overlook his private life really. Stealing, repeated drink driving offences and domestic abuse allegations don't lend themselves to making someone my favourite anything.
He was a troubled man but who are we to judge - he was the first Superstar footballer, fifth Beatle, life constantly under the lens. Nowadays footballers get advice, support etc. but this was a first.
 

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11 points

64. Louis Saha (45)


Premier League Appearances - 52 (34)
Overall Appearances - 76 (48)
Premier League Goals - 28
Overall Goals - 42
Position - Striker

It is hard to look back at Louis Saha's United career with out wishing it could have been slightly different. A player Ferguson once named in a list of his most talented forwards. A player that Wayne Rooney has said is the best strike partner he has ever played with. But also a player who struggled with injuries throughout his time at United and as such never delivered as much as he could have.

Signed in January 2004 in a deal struck on Mohamed Al Fayed's luxury yacht, Saha cost United roughly 12.5 million to sign from Premier League team Fulham. Saha would stay at United for five years and win two league titles and a Champions League. However, he would only make on average 25 appearances a year at the club as he struggled with a myriad of injury problems.

On his day Saha was devastatingly quick, possessed great finishing ability and had movement which made him a nightmare for defenders. He scored key goals during the league win in 2008 and contributed heavily to our 2007 Champions League run. The best run of form for the striker came in 2006 when he displaced Ruud Van Nistelrooy as Rooney's strike partner and scored numerous goals in United's League Cup win.

Saha has since started a company that helps injured football players and also has released his own autobiography that captures his meteoric rise in the footballing world. It would be interesting to see how Saha would have fared on this list if he could have avoided injury, but for now he arrives in position 64.
 

Indnyc

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Saha was fantastic whenever he played.. Absolutely loved him
 

Golden Nugget

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Loved Saha. Had the hk our to see and meet him in one of the legend games - really nice guy and I’m glad he made the list
 

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Twelve Points each.

61. Shinji Kagawa (39)

Premier League Appearances - 31 (7)
Overall Appearances - 46 (11)
Premier League Goals - 6
Overall Goals - 6
Position - Attacking Midfielder


Manchester United's first ever Japanese player was one of Sir Alex Ferguson's last ever signings. Arriving in Manchester on the 5th June 2014 the silky playmaker was immediately hailed as a shrewd piece of business, with the player known for his creative style and intricate passing. Shinji initially looked to be a fantastic signing, scoring on his home debut against Fulham in front of the Old Trafford faithful and in September continued his form assisting Michael Carrick in his first Champions League game. Shinji's cultured style was very easy on the eye and he was constantly looking to play quick intricate football. An injury in October then limited his playing time for the next three months and his international commitments for Japan often meant he would struggle to be match fit for the season. Despite this Shinji became the first Asian player to score a hat trick in a 4-0 rout v Norwich and also collected a Premier League winners medal.

That year Ferguson would retire and David Moyes was brought in. Shinji struggled to match the promise that he initially had been brought for, and would only appear in 18 games that season in the Premier League. He would play 30 games overall without a Premier League goal and found it hard to adapt to the Scottish managers style of play. When Louis Van Gaal took over many hoped it would kick start Shinji's career but instead he ended moving back to Dortmund in the Bundesliga to reignite his career. While Shinji didn't live up to what we all hoped, his movement and good attitude meant that he had many admirers, earning him twelve points from voters.

61. Henrik Larsson (NA)

Premier League Appearances - 5 (2)
Overall Appearances - 10 (3)
Premier League Goals -1
Overall Goals - 3
Position - Striker

By the time Larsson had arrived at Old Trafford, the Swedish football player had firmly entrenched himself in football history after amassing a fantastic 320 league goals throughout his career in various leagues. His fabled career would take another twist on the 1st January 2007, when Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson found his squad somewhat struggling to handle the rigours of competing on various fronts for a variety of trophies. Striker Alan Smith was recovering from an long term injury problem and the wily Scot turned to an unlikely source to beef up his team, deciding to loan in the veteran Larsson from Swedish club Helsingborg.

Larsson was an immensely popular figure during his two month loan stay with the club. On his home debut in the FA Cup against Aston Villa he scored a late goal, proof of his striking prowess. He would score three goals during this time period and impressed Ferguson so much that the club tried to extend his loan. However Larsson was a principled man and stayed true to his commitments to his family and parent club by choosing to end his loan on time. Later Larsson would reveal this was his one major regret during all of his career. Larsson was handed a Premier League winners medal for his work during the 06/07 season.
 

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61. Sammy Mcllroy(N/A)

First Division Appearances -279 (21)
Overall Appearances - 391 (28)
First Division Goals - 50
Overall Goals - 71
Position - Midfielder

On the 2nd August 1951 young Sammy would be born in Belfast and would go on to be known as the last ever 'Busby Babe'. Signing his first contract with United at the age of 15, Mcllroy was the last youngster to sign for United during Matt Busby's illustrious reign at the club.

His first game at the club came a few years later, when he was thrown into a Manchester derby in the 1971 season under manager Frank O'Farrell. He got two assists and a goal in this game and then contributed well for the rest of the season, making twenty one appearances as a 19 year old. His career was curtailed somewhat by a char crash in 1973 which almost ended his footballing journey, but he came back and would eventually serve eleven years as a Manchester United player.

Under Tommy Docherty, Mcllroy became an established first team player following a disastrous relegation in 1973. He helped Manchester United storm the second division and became a massive fan favourite at the club. A few years later he would pick up his only major honour during his playing career, the 1977 FA Cup. This cup was important in stopping Liverpool winning an historic 'treble' and Mcllroy had a good game in the final.

After over 400 games for United, the Irishman left for Stoke in February 1982 for roughly £350,000. His time at United had been a massive success and he still is fondly remembered at Old Trafford to this day.
 
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58. Gordon Hill (NA)

First Division Appearances -100 (1)
Overall Appearances - 133 (1)
First Division Goals - 39
Overall Goals - 51
Position - Winger

United manager Tommy Docherty had successfully got United promoted from the second division in the 1974/75 season and wanted to freshen his team up with youth. He turned to Milwall and signed their 21 year old winger who had been nicknamed 'Merlin' by the Lions fanbase. Hill arrived at Manchester United for the sum of £70,000 and slotted straight into the first team, creating a great partnership with Steve Coppell on the opposing flank.

During his first year at the club Hill would be instrumental in United reaching the FA Cup Final, producing a stunning display that saw him score both goals against Derby in the semi-final of the competition. After making his debut in November he would go onto score an impressive ten goals in all competition in his first year at the club.

The next year United would do one better and lift the famous trophy, with Hill once again contributing massively. Although he didn't score against Liverpool in the 2-1 win, he played the full match and ended that season with a mammoth 22 goals in all competitions.

His third year at United would turn out to be his last. New manager Dave Sexton did not fancy Hill in his line up and the player was moved on (whilst being United's top scorer) at the end of the 1978 season. United fans were left frustrated by the sale and Hill struggled to recapture his form at his new club Derby, struggling with massive injury problems.



58. Paul Ince (NA)

Premier League Appearances - 116
Overall Appearances - 276 (5)
Premier League Goals - 19
Overall Goals - 29
Position - Centre Midfield


In 1989 young central midfielder Paul Ince shot to national prominence after some stunning displays for West Ham in the League Cup. Despite West Ham being relegated at the end of the season, Ince had won many admirers for his playing style and there was rampant speculation about his future club. These rumours were exacerbated when leaked pictures of Paul Ince in a United shirt made national press and early in the 1989/90 season, Ince joined first division Manchester United for around £1,000,000.

This would be his first of six full seasons at Manchester United in which the combative midfielder would play nearly 300 times for the club. In his first season Ince would get a taste of silverware, putting in a man of the match performance in the right back position in the Wembley FA Cup Final replay.

The highlight of Paul Ince's time at the club would be the 1992-93 season in which United ended their long wait for the highest honour in the English game as they went on to claim the inaugural Premier League trophy. Ince was instrumental in that season, playing 41 times in the league and scoring six goals. That year was so successful he was voted Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year, beating out plenty of top tier talent.

After six years the self proclaimed 'Guvnor' was sold to Inter Milan for roughly seven million pounds in a move that baffled many at Old Trafford. After two Premier League trophies, two FA Cups and a European Cup Winners Cup to his name, Ince had undoubtedly been a success at Manchester United.
 
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58. Jesse Lingard (NA)

Premier League Appearances - 73 (33)
Overall Appearances - 111 (48)
Premier League Goals - 17
Overall Goals - 29
Position - Midfielder

Jesse Lingard has now been part of the United system for almost two decades. Joining the academy at seven years old, he has now represented United for over 150 appearances and has taken part in more Premier League games than previous Old Trafford favourites like Berbatov, Yorke and Sheringham. Now entering the prime years of his career, Lingard has established himself as a big game player at the club and has been instrumental in any recent trophy wins.

Although he never played under Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager identified Lingard as a future player for United early in his teenage years. Ferguson put him on the bench for an away game against Newcastle in the Premier league and although Lingard didn't get to play it was a show of confidence from the legendary United manager. Ferguson told Lingard he would mature as a player at around twenty-one years of age and his wisdom turned out to be prophetic as this is the age Lingard would start to establish himself in the United first team.

When starting his first professional game for United in Van Gaal's Premier League debut against Swansea, Lingard was forced off early into the game with a hamstring injury. It was the following year where Lingard would start to make more appearances, finishing the 2015/2016 season with 40 appearances across all competitions. As that season drew to a close Lingard scored a stunning goal at Stamford Bridge and then followed it up with the winner in the 2016 FA Cup Final, United's first major honour since Alex Ferguson retired.

He followed this up the following year with a goal in the Charity Shield win against reigning champions Leicester. Later that season he scored once more at Wembley in the League Cup Final against Southampton proving his appetite for the big games. He has played under the last three managers at United and each one has seen him as a pivotal player, as has made 40+ appearances in his last four years as a Manchester United player.

Lingard has recently established himself as a regular under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. With goals against Chelsea and Liverpool in recent seasons and a tendency to produce world class performances against Arsenal, Lingard is a worthy entry to this list.
 

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14 points

57. John O'Shea (50)


Premier League Appearances - 188 (68)
Overall Appearances - 301 (92)
Premier League Goals - 10
Overall Goals - 15
Position - Wherever he was needed


A product of Manchester United's famous youth academy, John O'Shea was an ever present figure during United's success after the turn of the new millenium. His spell at the club lasted for 12 years and while at the club O'Shea won a Champions League medal, an FA Cup and five premier league trophies. To this day only 31 players have ever represented Manchester United more throughout their careers and few can say they have played in more positions.

John O'Shea's versatility and professional work ethic meant that he was a great player to have in our squad, often filling in where he was needed without complaining. Highlights of John O'Shea's lengthy Manchester United spell include going in goal for a league game against Tottenham (and keeping a clean sheet). Nutmegging Figo whilst on a mazy dribble down the pitch. The undoubted high point came when O'Shea scored a stoppage time injury winner at Anfield in 2007 a goal that was instrumental in helping Manchester United lift the league title. At times O'Shea seemed to be a victim of his own versatility, not able to hold down a position regularly, but without players like O'Shea who could do a job wherever they played we would not have won so many trophies under Sir Alex Ferguson. There is a reason that Ferguson once said he was an 'instrumental' part of the squad that won the Champions League in 2008, indeed O'Shea played 38 times across all competitions during that season. The following season he played the full 90 minutes in the final against Barcelona, which unfortunately saw the Red Devils lose.

After twelve years, an incredible trophy cabinet and the honour of captaining United three times, John O'Shea left United to join Sunderland in 2011. A fantastic career is now coming to an end but there can be no regrets for the man from Waterford who will retire with more trophies than many players can only dream of.
 

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Sixteen Points each


54. Carlos Tevez (56)

Premier League Appearances - 49 (14)
Overall Appearances - 73 (26)
Premier League Goals - 19
Overall Goals - 34
Position - Striker


Signed from West Ham in the summer of 2007; Carlos Tevez would be a missing piece of the jigsaw that would help propel Manchester United to Champions League glory. In his first season he was instrumental in helping Manchester United to win the double. Fourteen goals in the league helped United secure the Premier League trophy and roughly 9 months after joining the Red Devils he scored a massively important penalty in the Champions League Final to help Manchester United lift the sacred trophy for the first time in nine years.

His next year at the club would once again see Tevez lift the Premier League trophy. He scored a further fifteen goals across all competitions as United retained the league title. His impressive energy levels and natural fiery personality meant he was beloved at Old Trafford, pressing at every opportunity, Tevez contributed massively to the overall style of the team.

Unfortunately he would only last two years at Old Trafford. Complications with Tevez's ownership dominated the press throughout the summer of 2009 and he ended up leaving the red side of the Manchester to sign for United's local competitors Manchester City. It was a disappointing end to Tevez's time at the club.


54. Danny Welbeck (NA)

Premier League Appearances - 53 (39)
verall Appearances - 90 (52)
Premier League Goals - 20
Overall Goals - 29
Position - Striker


Danny Welbeck started playing for Manchester United at eight years old. He would make his debut around a decade later in the league cup, starting against Middlesbrough (a game in which fellow young starlet Possebon would break his leg and never really recover). Two months later he made his league debut against Stoke City, coming on as a late substitute and curling in a shot from around twenty five yards. Over the next six years, Welbeck would make almost 150 appearances for Manchester United's first team and score some important goals as he progressed into a first team player.

It was the 2011/2012 season where Welbeck really established himself as a first team player. Taking part in the Charity Shield win against Man City, Welbeck and fellow young stars Cleverley and Anderson would play fantastic football over the next month, culminating in an 8-2 drubbing of fellow title challengers Arsenal. However in a site that would come all to familiar to Manchester United fans over the next few years, Welbeck was forced off with an injury that kept him out for several weeks.

The following year would be Sir Alex Ferguson's last as Manchester United manager and Danny Welbeck made forty appearances in a year where Manchester United would lift the Premier League trophy. It was a fantastic moment as the young man from Longsight celebrated helping his boyhood club win the league. This would be the best season of Danny Welbeck's career, as just 14 months later new Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal chose to move Welbeck on, despite protests from United legends.

Overall Welbeck's career hasn't quite panned out how many of us would have hoped after watching him come through the ranks at United. Injuries have plagued Danny and as a result he has never really established himself as an elite forward. Nevertheless he is a firm favourite of a vocal section of United fans and makes the list in a relatively high 54th place.
 

anant

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Sixteen Points each


54. Carlos Tevez (56)

Premier League Appearances - 49 (14)
Overall Appearances - 73 (26)
Premier League Goals - 19
Overall Goals - 34
Position - Striker


Signed from West Ham in the summer of 2007; Carlos Tevez would be a missing piece of the jigsaw that would help propel Manchester United to Champions League glory. In his first season he was instrumental in helping Manchester United to win the double. Fourteen goals in the league helped United secure the Premier League trophy and roughly 9 months after joining the Red Devils he scored a massively important penalty in the Champions League Final to help Manchester United lift the sacred trophy for the first time in nine years.

His next year at the club would once again see Tevez lift the Premier League trophy. He scored a further fifteen goals across all competitions as United retained the league title. His impressive energy levels and natural fiery personality meant he was beloved at Old Trafford, pressing at every opportunity, Tevez contributed massively to the overall style of the team.

Unfortunately he would only last two years at Old Trafford. Complications with Tevez's ownership dominated the press throughout the summer of 2009 and he ended up leaving the red side of the Manchester to sign for United's local competitors Manchester City. It was a disappointing end to Tevez's time at the club.


54. Danny Welbeck (NA)

Premier League Appearances - 53 (39)
verall Appearances - 90 (52)
Premier League Goals - 20
Overall Goals - 29
Position - Striker


Danny Welbeck started playing for Manchester United at eight years old. He would make his debut around a decade later in the league cup, starting against Middlesbrough (a game in which fellow young starlet Possebon would break his leg and never really recover). Two months later he made his league debut against Stoke City, coming on as a late substitute and curling in a shot from around twenty five yards. Over the next six years, Welbeck would make almost 150 appearances for Manchester United's first team and score some important goals as he progressed into a first team player.

It was the 2011/2012 season where Welbeck really established himself as a first team player. Taking part in the Charity Shield win against Man City, Welbeck and fellow young stars Cleverley and Anderson would play fantastic football over the next month, culminating in an 8-2 drubbing of fellow title challengers Arsenal. However in a site that would come all to familiar to Manchester United fans over the next few years, Welbeck was forced off with an injury that kept him out for several weeks.

The following year would be Sir Alex Ferguson's last as Manchester United manager and Danny Welbeck made forty appearances in a year where Manchester United would lift the Premier League trophy. It was a fantastic moment as the young man from Longsight celebrated helping his boyhood club win the league. This would be the best season of Danny Welbeck's career, as just 14 months later new Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal chose to move Welbeck on, despite protests from United legends.

Overall Welbeck's career hasn't quite panned out how many of us would have hoped after watching him come through the ranks at United. Injuries have plagued Danny and as a result he has never really established himself as an elite forward. Nevertheless he is a firm favourite of a vocal section of United fans and makes the list in a relatively high 54th place.
Name and shame the people who nominated Tevez!
 

Mockney

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I find Shinji Kagawa being only 3 places below Jesse Lingard far more insulting than Carlos Tevez being reasonably high. At least he did stuff whilst he was here.
 

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I find Shinji Kagawa being only 3 places below Jesse Lingard far more insulting than Carlos Tevez being reasonably high. At least he did stuff whilst he was here.
At least he never actively went against the club. He was just a crap signing. Like Mikhi tbf.
 

Amar__

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Apparently, Tevez is more likeable to our fans than O'Shea.
 

Halftrack

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Apparently, Tevez is more likeable to our fans than O'Shea.
That's actually shameful. John O'Shea was a stellar servant who loved the club and gave us more memorable moments than the turncoat cnut.
Forgot about that RIP thing. Still, in his defence, he is pretty much illiterate in English. You've seen his interview? Very dificul for me to diss Carlitos. So many emocional moments.
Holding up a gravestone shaped placard with RIP Fergie on it? He'd have to be monumentally thick to not know what that was about.
 

DWelbz19

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Kagawa and Schweinsteiger? Weird.
 

Amar__

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Yes. John O Shea would literally be the GOAT at about 92 clubs in the English league system based on his record!
Even if not for his record, he was quite good squad player, and very likeable character.
 

Sir Scott McToMinay

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Kagawa, Tevez and Larsson higher than Saha?
Assuming many of you have forgotten how instrumental he was in our sweetest title win since Fergie’s first.
He was outstanding that season when he was on.
 

Wumminator

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Kagawa, Tevez and Larsson higher than Saha?
Assuming many of you have forgotten how instrumental he was in our sweetest title win since Fergie’s first.
He was outstanding that season when he was on.
I’m guessing the Larsson voters have an affinity with Celtic. Doesn’t belong anywhere near this list.
 

Dave Burkinas

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Appreciate that older players might not be favorites for many younger people on the caf so not going to argue anyone in the top 100 is "underrated" because you are in exhalted company if you're even there but...

On what planet are these in anyone's United favorites: Falcao, Gibson, Rojo (way to go yet), Shaw (ditto), Matic (ditto) Cleverley, Schweini, Blind, Kagawa

Just funny: Djemba Djema

Really enjoying the descriptions though, great thread
 

Wumminator

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This is amazing. Checking it every day.
Appreciate that older players might not be favorites for many younger people on the caf so not going to argue anyone in the top 100 is "underrated" because you are in exhalted company if you're even there but...

On what planet are these in anyone's United favorites: Falcao, Gibson, Rojo (way to go yet), Shaw (ditto), Matic (ditto) Cleverley, Schweini, Blind, Kagawa

Just funny: Djemba Djema

Really enjoying the descriptions though, great thread
Cheers lads, really appreciate it.
 

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54. Steve Bruce (27)

Premier League Appearances - 309
Overall Appearances - 411 (3)
Premier League Goals - 36
Overall Goals - 51
Position - Centre Back


10th April 1993. It had been 26 years since Manchester United last won the top league in English football and they looked like this year might have been their year. However, on a dismal day with the season drawing to a close, it seemed they were going to stumble at one of the final hurdles. They were 1-0 down at Sheffield Wednesday and it looked like Aston Villa would go ahead of them in the hunt for the first Premier League title. That is until Steve Bruce arrived in the 85th minute with a powerful header smashed in from a corner. In the 96th minute he scored the winner. United won 2-1 and would remain top for the rest of the season. They'd finally done it and Steve Bruce wrote himself into the Old Trafford history books.

Of course he would probably be there anyway. In December 1987 Manchester United splashed out £800,000 to to bring in a 26 year old Steve Bruce from Norwich. He played 21 out of the 22 remaining games that season, and Manchester United would finish in the top two for the first time in seven years. Manchester United fans started to believe again. Despite this optimism the 1988/89 would see United return to the midtable; so Sir Alex Ferguson rung the changes. Gary Pallister joined the club and his partnership with Bruce would become the stuff of legend. They are so ingrained in the club's history that in 2012 in the midst of another defensive injury crisis Alex Ferguson joked about getting the pair out of retirement, it was obvious that the partnership was still remembered by the legendary manager.

While the above mentioned Premier League title is probably the most fondly remembered of Bruce's trophies, he also won another two Premier Leagues, three FA Cups and a Cup Winners Cup in his nine years at the club. Bruce's hard hitting tackles and amazing aerial ability kept him at Old Trafford till he turned 35, where he would move to Birmingham to try and bring the Midlands club back to the Premier League.

Bruce still sits at 24th in the Manchester United most capped players list and amazingly sits in 49th in terms of top Manchester United goal scorers, which for a central defender isn't bad! Bruce has had a fairly successful managerial career after he finally hung up his boots, and currently manages Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship. A great signing who wore his heart on his sleeve at all times on the football pitch and deserves his place in the list.
 

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53rd
17 points

53. Juan Sebastian Veron (NA)


Premier League Appearances - 45 (6)
Overall Appearances - 75 (7)
Premier League Goals - 7
Overall Goals - 11
Position - Central Midfield


On Tuesday 24th April 2004, Guardian football writer Rob Smyth penned a now infamous piece that looked at Ferguson's ineptitude and described how he was tarnishing his legacy. At the time United were going through a relatively bad spell (for their own incredibly high standards) and the sharks in the press had smelled blood. Even though the piece has since been thoroughly debunked, one line stood out. Smyth claimed 'United's decline stems from the day in 2001 when they bought Veron'. 15 years later and Veron's much maligned time at United has since been viewed through a different light, maybe Veron's cultured style had a bigger impact on Ferguson than anyone at the time realised.

Three seasons before that article it had all seemed so different when Manchester United signed the Argentine midfielder for around 25 million pounds. While that fee seems cheap compared to the massive signings seen nowadays, at the time this was a record for for a Premier League club. Expectations were high and for a brief spell it seemed that it was going to work out fantastically. Veron got goals in three of United's first four games and won the Player of the Month during his first month at the club. Unfortunately that was as good as it got for Juan.

Ferguson had signed Veron to help United lift another Champions League trophy and his performances in that competition were excellent. However, his form in the Premier League started to drop, mired with niggling injuries and struggling with the lack of time afforded to him, Veron was not performing as United fans expected. United would switch between a 4-4-2 and a 4-5-1 and this inconsistency in team selection was doing none of United's midfielders any favours. This was evidence in Veron's second season at the club, Juan was injured in March with United eight points adrift of Arsenal in second place. By the time he would return at the end of the season they were preparing to lift the trophy. It would be Veron's only major honour at United. A damning indictment of the Argentinian midfielder's impact on the team. Ultimately his arrival had meant that talented players like Scholes and Keane had to change positions, something both players have admitted they were very vocal and negative about. After two years, Veron was moved onto Premier League challengers Chelsea, where he would also struggle with form.

Incredibly talented, immensely gifted and a fantastic passer of the ball, the real frustration with Veron is the belief that he might have arrived too soon in the Premier League. With his cultured style and fantastic vision, he was often the most technically gifted footballer on the pitch. While it didn't quite work out for him during his two year stint at the club, his style would definitely influence Ferguson who started to change his tactical plans after Veron had left Old Trafford.
 

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51st
(Two Players)
Eighteen points each.

51. Duncan Edwards (14)



First Division Appearances - 151
Overall Appearances - 177
First Division Goals - 20
Overall Goals - 21
Position - Everywhere


It is easy to list Duncan Edwards' position as "everywhere" and think of it as a joke. The idea that someone could be so very capable at football as being able to play in every single outfield position is somewhat of a novelty. Nowadays if a player can play across a backline in two positions he is thought of as versatile. Yet versatile doesn't do Duncan Edwards justice, from all accounts he was master of all trades, Jack of none.

It is mad that a player who only played for United till the age of 21 could be so high up on the list. But the story of Duncan Edwards is anything but a typical football story, the England international would only live till his 21st birthday before the torrid events of Munich ended the young man's life. Even before that moment though his reputation had grown so much that Edwards remains one of Manchester's favourite players.

Duncan Edwards captained United to the first ever FA Youth Cup success in 1953. However by that time he'd already appeared in the first team at 16 years and 185 days, making him the youngest ever league player. The next two years saw him establish himself as a regular and by the time he was 18 he was called up for England, becoming the youngest player since the Second World War to represent his country. For five years after his debut Edwards was a regular in a Manchester United squad that won two league titles. Edwards was widely tipped to become England captain before his life was tragically cut short in Munich. Despite surviving the initial crash, Edwards would ultimately succumb to his injuries 15 days later, the hospital staff amazed at the fight and spirit Edwards showed while being treated. Indeed it's said that during his treatment during a spell of sustained lucidity he asked United assistant manager Jimmy Murphy, " "What time is the kick off against Wolves? I mustn't miss that match"

It's hard to put into words how much Edwards means to this football club. I can't do it, so I'm going to ask some of his contemporaries to do it for him. These quotes sum up how highly rated Edwards was. It's a shame we never got to see his career fully blossom, because those that watched him were sure he'd go down as the best player to ever lace up his boots.

Bobby Charlton - “He had strength and character that just spilled out of him on the field. I’m absolutely sure that if his career had had a decent span he would have proved himself the greatest player we had ever seen. Yes, I know the great players – Pelé, Maradona, Best, Law, Greaves and my great favourite Alfredodi Stéfano – but my point was that he was better in every phase of the game. If you asked such players as Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney about Duncan their answers were always the same: they had seen nothing like him.”

Jimmy Murphy's half time team talk in an FA Youth Cup game - "Remember, boys, I said not to give Duncan the ball at every opportunity. Well, forget it. Give him the fecking ball whenever you can." - United won the game

Matt Busby - "Duncan had everything. He was so big, so strong, so confident and still so young. Right from the start we gave up trying to spot flaws in his game. John Charles was another giant of a player, a giant with great, great skill. But as a player, even John didn't have as much as Duncan. He used to move upfield brushing people aside to lash in late goals when we needed them."

Jimmy Murphy - "If I shut my eyes now I can see him; the pants hitched up, the wild leaps of boyish enthusiasm as he came running out of the tunnel, the tremendous power of his tackling, always fair but fearsome, his immense power on the ball. The greatest? There was only one and that was Duncan Edwards."

George Follows (writer in the News Chronicle after seeing 16 year old Edwards) - "Well, the first important thing is that this boy Edwards is a man of 12st and 5ft 10ins in height. This gives him his first great asset of power. When he heads the ball, it is not a flabby flirtation with fortune, it is bold and decisive. When he tackles, it is with a man-trap bite, and when he shoots with either foot, not even Jack Rowley – the pride of Old Trafford – is shooting harder. Though nobody can tell exactly what will happen when Edwards explodes into First Division football, one thing is certain: it will be spectacular.”

RIP to one of United's truest legends.

A day of memory,
Sad to recall,
Without farewell,
He left us all. . .
 

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As you can see, players like Edwards have plummeted down the list. It seems that in the last three years we have become more favouring of the recent players. Which I think in a way makes sense. At the time we were still close enough to Ferguson that we thought the good times were just around the corner again, our recent struggles have only made his players seem more like legends.
 

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51. Ray Wilkins (NA)



First Division Appearances - 158 (2)
Overall Appearances - 191 (3)
First Division Goals - 7
Overall Goals - 10
Position - Midfield


After boyhood club Chelsea got relegated in 1979, Ray Wilkins left to join Manchester United for the princely sum of £825,000. Ray would last five years at the Manchester club, where he became a firm fan favourite and managed to form a brilliant partnership with his England colleague Bryan Robson.

Although he wasn't the most dazzling central midfielder to ever play the game, his calm and reserved style saw him form an integral part of United's midfield. He retained possession well under pressure and had a brilliant eye for a pass.

His most memorable moment for Manchester United came in the 1983 FA Cup Final against Brighton and Hove Albion at Wembley. With the score tied at 1-1 Wilkins curled a long range effort into the top corner that set United on the path to lifting the trophy for the first time in five years.

Nicknamed 'Butch' due to his affinity for high end clothes, Wilkins was a fantastic example of a United player who captured the public's imagination and became synonymous with football in the early 1980s. The footballing community was devastated by Wilkins recent death and the fact that so many people paid tribute to the man from Hillingdon is testament to his enduring popularity and generous soul.
 

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50. Gary Pallister (50)

Premier League Appearances - 314 (3)
Overall Appearances - 433 (4)
Premier League Goals - 8
Overall Goals - 15
Position - Centre Defence



In 1989 Sir Alex Ferguson spent a then record fee for a defender and signed Gary Pallister from Middlesbrough. Few could have predicted the success the great defender would go on to have, with Pallister becoming a key figure in a resurgent United. He would stay under Alex Ferguson's tutelage for the next nine seasons, a period of time in which Manchester United would be reinvented as a giant of world football, once again dominating England's top league.

Pallister was great in the air, a strong tackler and a now retired Ferguson said he was probably the fastest player to ever play under him. He joined fellow defender Steve Bruce who had arrived at Manchester United the year earlier and between them the pair would go onto make almost 650 games in the Premier League for the club, both fixtures in one of the most successful defences in the history of English football.

During his time at the club Pallister would go on to win four premier league trophies, 3 FA Cups and a League Cup and with him and Steve Bruce forming a great partnership, United often seemed impenetrable. Pallister was voted as Manchester United's player of the year in his first season at the club after becoming an integral player at the club right away. Two years later he would be voted PFA Player of the Year, an incredible feat for a defender.

There are numerous highlights to Pallister's time at the club. A memorable goal in the 1995 FA Cup Final earned United a replay that they would eventually win. (Pallister scored in the replay as well.) He became one of the only players to score two goals against Liverpool in the league for United in their 3-1 win in April 1997, in a game that was dubbed as the 'title decider' for that year.

Pallister eventually left the club in 1998, a year before a historic treble. However without his form at the back during the early 1990s, it is unlikely United would have had the platform to build on and as such he is an integral part of the club's illustrious history.
 

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Pallister just sneaking into the top fifty for the second time that I've done these lists.

All of the names coming up now are just :drool:
 

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49th
Twenty points


49. Teddy Sheringham (56)

Premier League Appearances - 73 (31)
Overall Appearances - 101 (52)
Premier League Goals - 31
Overall Goals - 46
Position - Striker



"When I saw Basler waving to the fans it gave me the hump, I wanted to get out there and show them."

Teddy Sheringham had the completely unenviable task of filling the massive hole left by Eric Cantona after his abrupt retirement from football at a young age. Signed from Tottenham for 3.5 million pounds in 1997, Sheringham was actually two months older than the retiring Frenchman and at the time the signing raised a few eyebrows. Four years later Sheringham would leave Old Trafford having immortalised himself in United folklore with a goal in the most famous match in the club's illustrious history.

It didn't always look like it would work out. Sheringham missed a penalty on his United debut against his former club and his first season didn't exactly pan out the way he had hoped. He would score 14 goals in all competitions during his first season at the club, a respectable outlay but nowhere near enough to fill the massive hole left by Cantona. His relationship with strike partner Andy Cole deteriorated massively and the pair stopped speaking to each other. After 12 months at the club, Sheringham remained trophyless.

Flash forward to the end of 1999 and Sheringham had fulfilled all his ambitions after signing for the Manchester club. He would play in seventeen games across the league season and help United win the league, securing Sheringham's first major honour in football at the age of 33. A few weeks later Sheringham would score the first goal in the FA Cup Final to capture the double for United. The best was yet to come as Sheringham scored an incredibly late goal in the 1999 Champions League Final to equalise for Manchester United. Minutes later with just seconds left of the game, Sheringham got a crucial flick towards Ole Gunnar Soslkjaer to bundle in the winner. Sheringham finished the season having completed an historic treble.

He would add another two league titles in the years that followed and left the club after four stellar seasons. His fourth season at the club saw him bag 21 goals across all competitions, his most he would ever score for United. At age 35 he returned to Tottenham Hotspur, his trophy cabinet bursting after four successful years at United.
 

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Joint 48th
(Two Players)
Twenty Two Points each

48. Diego Forlan (NA)

Premier League Appearances - 23 (40)
Overall Appearances - 37 (61)
Premier League Goals - 10
Overall Goals - 17
Position - Striker


Diego Forlan turned down the chance to sign for Middlesbrough in January 2002, instead choosing to respond positively to late interest from Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. The striker had been performing well for Argentinian side Independiente. £7 million pounds was paid to secure the Uruguayan's services and United fans were hopeful that Ferguson had found another gem.

The season ended with Forlan making eighteen appearances in all competitions. Playing as a striker in those games it was safe to say that Forlan's return of zero goals was not exactly what United had been hoping for. Nicknamed 'Diego Forlorn' for his poor goal return, Forlan would manage an agonising twenty seven games in all competitions before he finally broke his duck in a Champions League game against Maccabi Haifa after arriving on the pitch as a late substitute. In the 89th minute he was allowed to take a penalty that would open his account at Old Trafford. So why it is that a striker signed to score goals going through a massive barren run is still sung about by the Old Trafford faithful all these years later?

The answer is slightly more complex than it first appears. For all intents and purposes, Forlan flopped at Old Trafford. Gary Neville listed him alongside Bellion and Kleberson in what he termed the 'Djemba Djemba era' at Old Trafford. Signings that didn't quite make the grade. However, his cult like status is explained in Roy Keane's words, “If a player tried – and Diego did – we’d drag him with us; we’d try and help him,” football fans love a trier and Forlan never gave up. He was single minded in his attempts to turn around his form at the club and his form improved massively after he opened his account.

Roughly two months after scoring in the CL, Forlan would score his first Premier League goal with a 77th minute equaliser against Aston Villa. In United's next game he would bag a late winner against Southampton. One month after that Forlan scored a brace in an away win over Premier League title challengers Liverpool. Forlan ripped his shirt off during his celebration and a cult hero was born. 'Diego' chanted the United fans, 'He came from Uruguay, he made the Scousers cry'. Forlan's important goals didn't stop there, a few months later he would score a 90th minute winner against Chelsea, a goal that would help United secure the Premier League trophy in Forlan's second season at the club.

Overall Forlan scored 17 goals in 98 appearances for United. His goalscoring return was poor, but his knack for getting important goals and his never-say-die attitude ingratiated himself with the Old Trafford faithful. Not United's most clinical forwards, but certainly one of the most memorable.
 
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48. Brian McClair (NA)


First Division Appearances - 190 (3)
Overall Appearances - 398 (73)
First Division Goals - 70
Overall Goals - 127

Position - Striker/Central Midfielder

One of the first players to be signed by Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, McClair arrived from Celtic after a tribunal had decided his services to be worth around £850,000 to the Manchester club. 'A cattle-market has more dignity' commented one Scottish based journalist on the process, as initially Celtic had wanted £2 million pounds for the young striker. Nevertheless, McClair would join United and go onto be a catalyst to the clubs return to the forefront of English football.

In his first season McClair would become the first player since United legend George Best to score twenty goals in a single season for the club. The man they nicknamed 'Choccy' would score an incredible thirty-one goals in all competitions during his first year, instantly becoming a fan favourite. In his third season playing in red, he would help United lift their first major trophy of the Alex Ferguson era, a FA Cup Final win against Crystal Palace was secured following important goals from McClair in both the Quarter and Semi Finals of the competition. A year after he scored the winning goal against Barcelona in the Super Cup to continue United's recent impressive form.

Eric Cantona arrived in 1992 to add some dynamism to United's attack and as a result McClair saw himself moved from his favoured striker position. McClair shifted further back down the pitch and played more as a central midfielder and would make 41 appearances in the year where United would finally reclaim the title after many decades of waiting. McClair would secure four titles while playing for Manchester United, helping starts United's decades worth of dominance over the English leagues. Although he was no longer considered an automatic starter, McClair would score numerous important goals, including a goal in the 1994 FA Cup Final against Chelsea.

He left the club in 1998 to return to Scottish football. Overall Brian McClair would play a part in 471 games for United, one more than the famous George Best whose record he had equalled eleven years earlier. A proper cult legend at the club, McClair's influence was felt at the club for years after his departure after he became the Head of Youth Development at the club from 2006-2015.
 
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Won’t be posting for the next couple of days sorry peeps, got a busy few nights. Will resume at the weekend with some class players before a glut of recent performers.