Manchester United is one of the most famous football clubs in the world with huge followers across the globe. Nicknamed “The Red Devils“, the English football club is a very successful club, winning 20 Top Division League titles, the most by any club in England. They also won several more titles such as twelve FA Cups, three European Cups, Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup and the World Club Cup in 2008.
United’s most notable period of success came during their time under the tutelage of legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. That success coincided with the introduction of the Premier League which replaced the old First Division. Manchester United is the first winner of the newly branded Premier League and went on to win 12 more times under the great Scot before he retired in 2013. The Red Devil hasn’t won a Premier League title since then.
This article will focus only on players who featured during the Premier League era, ie. from the year 1992. Therefore, great players like George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law are omitted from the list.
Top 10 Manchester United Players
Here are my top 10 Mancester United players during the Premier League era. Note that this is my personal opinion only.
Those who beg to differ are free to express themselves in the comment box below. 😀
10. Ruud Van Nistelrooy
Van Nistelrooy is arguably the most lethal striker the Premier League has ever witnessed. During his time at Old Trafford, the Dutchman scored 150 goals in just 219 appearances. He won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2002, broke several records including the club all-time European goalscorer at that time, a feat which has been bettered by Wayne Rooney recently.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy will always be remembered as the fox in the box and a classic No. 9 striker for the club. When it come to the business of getting goals, no one is better than this guy.
9. Gary Neville
Gary Neville is Mr Manchester United, a player who breathe and die for his club. He will give his all in the field and is always proud to wear the club jersey. If you are a manager of Manchester United, Gary’s name is probably one of the first you want to include in your team.
As a player he is very intelligent. He reads the game very well and supports the attack at every opportunity. Most of United’s fans will remember his partnership with David Beckham on the right side of the field. They wrecked havoc at many defense in the Europe and Premier League.
A part of the famous Fergie’s Fledglings, Gary played more than 600 times for the Red Devils. He is regarded by Sir Alex as the best English right-back of his generation.
8. Michael Carrick
The unsung hero and one of the most underrated players in the history of football. Michael Carrick is a brilliant footballer with superb passing and ball distribution that is second to none. Probably lack of goals made him less popular than other players in the same position. However, his calming influence and ability to read and dictate the pace of the game makes him one of the most valuable commodity in the world of football.
Carrick joined Manchester United in 2006 and immediately established himself as a key player in Sir Alex’s squad. He was part of the side that won the 2008 Champions League final, playing the full 120 minutes as they enjoyed a 6–5 penalty shootout win, with Carrick converting his spot kick, to help achieve the European Double.
He has made more than 400 appearances for the club and the 35 year-old is still going strong under Jose Maurinho, being appointed as vice-captain by the Portuguese manager.
7. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo would have been placed way higher in the ranking had he not chose to left for Real Madrid and stay with United. Nonetheless in his five-year stint with the club since he was 17, he had really made a huge impact and deservedly is included in this list.
Signed as a raw teenager, the Portuguese went on to become one of the greatest players in the world. Ronaldo won the Premier League, The Champion League and personal accolades such as Premier League Player of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year.
His skills are mesmerizing. He and Lionel Messi set a very high standard in football as though they came from a different planet.
6. Wayne Rooney
When this article is written, Rooney is one goal shy from equaling Bobby Charlton‘s club record. Looking at the way he’s playing at the moment, it is just a matter of time when he will do it. I bet it will be sooner rather than later. Most likely before the year-end.
Like Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney joined United while he was still a teenager, at the age of 16 from Everton. United paid a hefty £25.6 million for his service, making him the most expensive teenager ever. It’s really turned out to be a worthy investment. Rooney and Ronaldo formed a formidable partnership and brought success to the club including the UEFA Champion League and World Club Cup.
After Ronaldo left, he continues to carry United with his goals and skills and now has scored 247 goals for the club. Waybe Rooney is also England’s all-time record goalscorer and second most-capped player.
5. Peter Schmeichel
Before Schmeichel, goal keeping is such a boring job. You hardly heard a goalkeeper who has influenced so much in a football game. Then came Peter The Great. He revolutionized the game with his power throw that goes beyond the half line. Most of United’s counter attack in those days started with Peter’s throw. It scared the bejesus outta the other teams in the league. Many goals were scored by counter attacks that started with Peter’s power throw.
As a goalkeeper, he is intimidating. The giant Dane is 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in) tall and weighed about 105 kg (16 st 7 lb) during his playing days. With his outstanding goalkeeping ability to match that wonderful physique, you need to create something special to beat him.
Peter Schmeichel ended his Manchester United career on the highest note, when United won the Treble, the FA Premier League title, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, in the same season.
4. Roy Keane
Love him or hate him, Roy Keane will always be remembered as the greatest captain for the club during the Premier League era. A fierce character with plenty of controversy surrounding him, Keane is by far the best box to box midfielder United ever have. Every United fan won’t forget that night in Turin when Roy Keane inspired United to a memorable win over Zinedine Zidane’s Juventus. That was class, and absolutely out of this world performance by the Irishman.
Keane made 480 appearances for Manchester since joining Manchester United from Nottingham Forest in 1993 to became Bryan Robson’s successor. He led United to nine major honours, making him the most successful captain in the club’s history.
3. Paul Scholes
Paul Scholes is one of the three Fergie’s Fledglings in the list together with Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs. That shows how successful the youth set up at Old Trafford during Sir Alex’s time. Something that the Scotsman visualised when he joined Manchester United.
Like Ryan Giggs, Scholes played until his late 30’s. Known for his genius with the ball rather his strength, Scholes had no problem continue playing for the club when needed by his manager. Most United fans will remember him for scoring screamers from outside the penalty box. He also has the ability to ping the ball accurately from 30 – 40 yards to start a counter attack.
During his playing time, he is often compared to Zinedine Zidane. While Zidane played with more flair, Scholes did his job more simpler but as effective as the Frenchman. Xavi called him “the best central midfielder I’ve seen in the last 15, 20 years“, whileThierry Henry has cited Scholes as the greatest player in Premier League history.
Scholes made 718 appearances for United, the third-highest number of appearances by any player for the club.
2. Eric Cantona
History will show that the club’s success under Fergie started with the signing of Eric Cantona in 1992 from Leeds. He is the catalyst to what the club has achieved under Sir Alex Ferguson for almost three decades. The Frenchman is a genius albeit a controversial figure. He brought flair and add confident to an already powerful Manchester United. They won the league with him in the first year season at the club and never looked back. The rest as we already know, is history.
As Sir Alex famously quoted, Cantona illuminated Old Trafford. The place was a frenzy every time he touched the ball. You never know what he’s going to do with the ball. All of a sudden it ended up inside the opponent’s net. Just brilliant. Watch the video below:
Eric Cantona retired from football as Manchester United player in 1997. Cantona scored a total of 64 league goals for Manchester United, 11 in domestic cup competitions, and 5 in the Champions League, bringing his tally to 80 goals in less than five years.
1. Ryan Giggs
The most decorated Premier League player ever. Ryan Giggs won 13 Premier League winner’s medals, four FA Cup winner’s medals, three League Cup winner’s medals, two UEFA Champions League winner’s medals, a FIFA Club World Cup winners medal, an Intercontinental Cup winner’s medal, a UEFA Super Cup winner’s medal and nine FA Community Shield winner’s medals.
Giggs made his debut at the age of 17 in 1991 and went on to play for the club for 23 years. The Welsh Wizard was feared during his heydays for his blistering pace down that left flank for United. He really tormented the opponents and left many full backs red-faced and chasing his shadows throughout the game. His most memorable moment was in 1999 FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal when he ran past Arsenal defenders including Tony Adams from the half line to score that goal. The goal that kept the Treble alive. United went on to complete the Premier League, FA Cup and Champion League that season.
Towards the tail end of his career, Giggs reinvented himself to become a central midfielder to prolong his career. He certainly has the brain and ability to do so and continued to play until 2014 at the age of 40. He holds the record for the most appearances for the club, starring in 963 games for the Red Devils. An absolute legend!
What do you think about the list?
Anyone else that deserves to be in? Jaap Stamp, Dwight Yorke, Rio Ferdinand, David Beckham are names worth mentioning too. But, I only have 10 spots and that means some of your favourites are missed out. Let us know what you think. In fact, you can list out your top 10 too in the comment box.
We would love to hear your thoughts.