Manchester United may be going through their fair share of struggles right now, but their status as one of the most prestigious clubs in British and football history is sealed. For that, they have two legendary managers to thank in the form of Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson.
The iconic Scotsmen shared 51 years of managerial experience as well as trophies between them. Their standards and achievements are still being used as a blueprint by Manchester United as they look to make the two greats proud.
Not to mention the generations upon generations of players, many of whom are now revered as legends, who have graced The Theatre of Dreams. They've played their part in helping Manchester United’s home live up to its famous nickname.
There are just too many important players to mention, so I’m not even going to attempt naming them for fear of missing out on someone. However, the incredible contributions of the Busby Babes and Fergie’s Fledglings must be noted.
Now, while success births many an icon, there have been more than a handful of players who have played no small part in getting Manchester United where they are today, but have received little or no plaudits for it.
Not that it mattered to these men, whose sole motivation for doing what they did was their love for the club. They knew what it meant to play for Manchester United and felt enormous pride in wearing that famous red shirt – qualities that are a rarity in modern football.
Manchester United and the Old Trafford faithful owe these players a huge debt of gratitude for their enormous but sadly overlooked contribution to the club’s rich history.
Who are these men? You’re about to find out on this list of the 5 most underrated players in Manchester United history.
#5 Antonio Valencia
Plenty of pundits and observers constantly overlook Antonio Valencia’s contribution to Manchester United, partly due to their unfair view of him being an inept Cristiano Ronaldo replacement. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A quiet individual, Valencia let his work on the field do the talking, and earned a well-deserved place in the PFA Team of the Year in his debut season. Valencia followed this up with a string of steady performances year after year, establishing himself as a firm fan favorite.
His successful transition from a winger to an ultra-reliable right back – who managers firmly placed their trust in – says a lot about his character.
The 35-year-old departed Old Trafford in 2019 after a decade of selfless service and an incredible trophy haul which includes 2 Premier League titles, 1 FA Cup, 2 Carabao Cups, 1 Europa League and 3 Community Shields.
Valencia never truly got the appreciation he deserved. But he was viewed highly by the club, who chose him as their Player of the Year in 2011; his teammates, who twice voted for him as their Player of the Year, and the fans – who hold him in extremely high regard.
#4 Michael Carrick
Let’s get one thing straight – Michael Carrick oozed nothing but class during his glittering Manchester United stint, but never got the adulation he richly deserved until later in his career.
This was largely because he was unfairly held in comparison to Roy Keane, despite being a completely different kind of player and partly due to him playing in one of the least glamorous positions on the pitch.
Carrick was a brilliantly astute player who was proficient in making things tick in a midfield crowded with flashier peers like Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. Carrick’s moment in the sun finally came during Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season, which was arguably Carrick’s best.
It was also the one that saw him earn a terrace chant that proclaimed him as the next Paul Scholes.
Carrick’s immense talent was also overlooked by England, for whom he made just 34 appearances due to various managers weirdly preferring the dysfunctional duo of Gerrard and Lampard.
Nevertheless, Carrick’s status as a legend is sealed, with the midfielder having played a major part in the club winning 5 Premier League titles, 1 Champions League, 1 Europa League, 1 FA Cup and 2 Carabao Cups among other trophies.