Who have been Man Utd’s most unsung or under-rated players?


Mikael Silvestre (Ben Ashby):

“It’s harder for defenders to be heroes. No surprise, then, that when you start to think about unsung heroes in United red, you soon find candidates at the blue-collar end of the field. Such as Mikael Silvestre. Inter Milan to Manchester United may be a transfer gilded with stardust, but a glamour player Silvestre was not. The French defender, who served at centre-back and left-back, had a functional rather than frilly style of play. Maybe he didn’t have the razzle-dazzle of Rio Ferdinand. Maybe he didn’t have the footwork of Patrice Evra. But he was solid, professional and adaptable. And not without his own attacking bursts from left-back, or bombing long-range diagonal passes, by the way (or indeed the odd headed goal – just ask Liverpool). Signed by Alex in September 1999 (a feather in any player’s cap in itself), he then served nine seasons under the great man, from 1999/2000 to 2007/08. The last two of those may have been restricted by injury and fierce competition, but, in his first seven seasons straight, he played at least 30 Premier League games, and contributed 50 appearances or more overall in three of those campaigns. He racked up 361 Reds games in total, enough to put him inside the club’s all-time top 50 appearance-makers list. Then there are the medals. Four Premier League titles. An FA Cup. A League Cup. A couple of Community Shields. An Intercontinental Cup. Even a Champions League (yes, Mikael was on the bench in Moscow in 2008). The fact that Sir Alex so regularly selected him over a long period of time – and invariably picked him in the big games – says enough about Mickey. In the words of Ferguson himself when Silvestre was allowed to leave for Arsenal, he was ‘a great servant and a wonderful professional’.”

David Beckham (Mark Sullivan):

Some may feel that David Beckham isn’t really an unsung hero. I mean he’s one of the most famous men on the planet. He’s often been recognised for his contributions to sport, fashion, charity and haircuts! So is he really an unsung hero? Well, in terms of his contribution to United’s domestic dominance in the 1990s then, in my opinion, yes, he really is. Rarely does Becks get much of a mention in a side which was blessed with a plethora of world-class performers. Other legends seem to garner much more attention. But Becks’ contribution was equally significant. Ask Yorke and Cole how important Beckham’s pinpoint passing was to their goal tally. Ask Paul Scholes how Becks’ incredible work-rate allowed him more freedom to hurt the opposition with his technical brilliance. Ask the notoriously difficult-to-please Roy Keane how tough both physically and mentally his colleague was to cope with being a target for both hostile away fans and, sometimes, opponents with a point to prove. David had a bit of everything. He had the respect of his team-mates, his manager and our amazing fans. Yet he never had his own regular terrace chant. Many lesser lights could boast one of them! At his peak, David Beckham was right up there with the finest midfielders in the world. His manager knew it. His team-mates knew it. But pick your best-ever Manchester United XI and I’d wager that most people will, at most, have Becks on the bench. That’s absolutely no slight on the former England captain but, for example, if you’re choosing a right-sided midfielder, do you go for Becks or Cristiano Ronaldo? He probably doesn’t get into central midfield either. That’s why Becks is an unsung hero and, on the pitch, he didn’t mind that. Off it, you could argue it’s a different matter! But as a midfield maestro, with 85 goals in 394 games over a 10-year period in which he won 14 trophies, puts him among the Manchester United elite. Now time to get working on his song…”



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