Manchester United’s 20 oldest players since 2000 ranked after Lee Grant’s appearance v Astana

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Lee Grant made only his second first-team appearance for Manchester United against Astana in the Europa League on Thursday.

The 36-year-old goalkeeper was unable to clean sheet, as United slumped to a 2-1 defeat away from home.

However, with the exception of Grant and Jesse Lingard, who scored United’s only goal of the game, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deployed a very young and inexperienced squad in Kazakhstan.

Grant is one of the 20 oldest players to feature for United since 2000 - but who are the other 19 and how good were they on their final appearances for the Red Devils?

We’ve ranked them in order based on how good they were at the end - not how good they were at the peak of their respective careers…

20. Andy Goram

Age: 37 years, 1 month

Match: Southampton 2-1 Man Utd | May 2001

The former Scotland goalkeeper joined Man Utd on loan from Motherwell in 2001 and made a couple of appearances. How he ended up playing for English football’s biggest club (certainly at the time) is anyone’s guess.

Man Utd v Coventry

19. Gary Neville

Age: 35 years, 10 months

Match: West Brom 1-2 Man Utd | January 2011

We love Gary Neville but, even by his own admission, he was done by the start of 2011. After enduring a nightmare against West Brom, the club legend hung his boots shortly afterwards.

West Bromwich Albion v Manchester United - Premier League

18. Raimond van der Gouw

Age: 39 years, 1 month

Match: Man Utd 0-0 Charlton | May 2002

A reliable back-up goalkeeper for United during the late 1990s and early 2000s, Raimond van der Gouw joined West Ham after leaving Old Trafford but failed to make a single appearance as the Hammers were relegated.

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17. Lee Grant

Age: 36 years, 11 months

Match: Astana 2-1 Man Utd | November 2019

A shock signing from Stoke City in July 2018, Lee Grant has made two competitive appearances for United - and lost both games.

16. Laurent Blanc

Age: 37 years, 5 months

Match: Everton 1-2 Man Utd | May 2003

A brilliant centre-back at his peak, but rather disappointing during his spell at Man Utd. It was no surprise when Laurent Blanc retired in the summer of 2003.

Wayne Rooney of Everton and Laurent Blanc of Manchester United

15. Victor Valdes

Age: 33 years, 4 months

Match: Hull City 0-0 Man Utd | May 2015

Victor Valdes fell out with Louis van Gaal and left Old Trafford under a cloud in the summer of 2016 before joining Middlesbrough. He was still a decent goalkeeper in 2015 but his best days were clearly behind him.

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14. Ashley Young

Age: 34 years, 3 months

Match: Man Utd 3-0 Partizan Belgrade | November 2019

Ashley Young always gives his all for Man Utd but it’s hard to see him remaining at Old Trafford for much longer. Expect him to leave the club next summer.

Manchester United v Partizan: Group L - UEFA Europa League

13. Teddy Sheringham

Age: 35 years, 5 months

Match: Tottenham 3-1 Man Utd | May 2001

Teddy Sheringham went on to play for another seven years after leaving the Red Devils but there’s no doubt that Sir Alex Ferguson sold him at the right time.

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12. Antonio Valencia

Age: 33 years, 9 months

Match: Man Utd 0-2 Cardiff | May 2019

Man Utd waved goodbye to Antonio Valencia in the summer after 10 years of excellent service. Again, it was undoubtedly the right time for him to move on.

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11. Henrik Larsson

Age: 35 years, 5 months

Match: Middlesbrough 2-2 Man Utd | March 2007

United fans have fond memories of Henrik Larsson’s loan spell in 2007, despite the fact he only managed to score three goals in 13 games. Not bad, we guess, for a player of his advancing years.

Manchester United's Swedish forward Henr...

10. Rio Ferdinand

Age: 35 years, 6 months

Match: Southampton 1-1 Man Utd | May 2014

One of the best defenders in United’s illustrious history, Rio Ferdinand was no longer the world-class centre-back he once was by 2014 and was moved on to Queens Park Rangers, where he struggled before retiring.

Southampton v Manchester United - Premier League

9. Denis Irwin

Age: 36 years, 6 months

Match: Man Utd 0-0 Charlton | May 2002

One of the greatest full-backs Man Utd have ever had, Denis Irwin - about as consistent and professional as footballers come - went on to spend two years at Wolves before retiring in 2004.

ManU v Leicester

8. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Age: 34 years, 2 months

Match: Chelsea 1-0 Man Utd | May 2007

Man Utd’s current boss is, of course, a bonafide club legend. He retired in 2007 but still managed to bag 11 goals during his final season in football.

FA Cup Final: Manchester United v Chelsea

7. Michael Carrick

Age: 36 years, 9 months

Match: Man Utd 1-0 Watford | May 2018

The end of the 2017/18 season was probably the right time to retire for Michael Carrick, who accepted a coaching role at Old Trafford and is now part of Solskjaer’s backroom staff.

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6. Roy Keane

Age: 34 years, 1 month

Match: Liverpool 0-0 Man Utd | September 2005

It’s a huge shame how Roy Keane’s Man Utd career ended. A bust-up with Fergie saw his contract terminated in November 2005. That said, Ferguson surely would have kept the Irishman if he was still one of the Premier League’s best midfielders. He was still decent in 2005, but nowhere near the player he once was.

Liverpool v Manchester United

5. Edwin van der Sar

Age: 40 years, 6 months

Match: Barcelona 3-1 Man Utd | May 2011

One of two players aged over 40 on this list, Edwin van der Sar was still a quality ‘keeper in 2011 but was unable to help United win the Champions League final against Barcelona in his final game.

Manchester United's Dutch goalkeeper Edw

4. Ryan Giggs

Age: 40 years, 5 months

Match: Man Utd 3-1 Hull City | May 2014

Ryan Giggs kept himself in such incredible physical condition that he probably could have played for another year. The Welshman agreed to become United’s assistant manager under Van Gaal in 2014.

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3. Patrice Evra

Age: 32 years, 11 months

Match: Southampton 1-1 Man Utd | May 2014

Man Utd should have done more to keep Patrice Evra, who went on to win back-to-back Serie A titles with Juventus after leaving Old Trafford.

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2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Age: 36 years, 2 months

Match: Man Utd 2-2 Burnley | December 2017

Zlatan Ibrahimovic only scored one goal in seven appearances during his final season with United, but that’s largely due to the fact he was recovering from a serious injury. Since leaving Old Trafford, the enigmatic Swede has scored a remarkable 53 goals in 58 games for LA Galaxy and is now expected to resume his career in Europe at the age of 38.

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1. Paul Scholes

Age: 38 years, 6 months

Match: West Brom 5-5 Man Utd | May 2013

Paul Scholes had already retired once before his second - and final - retirement in May 2013. But what a footballer. He could still ping balls around the pitch for fun and dictate the tempo of matches at the age of 38. He could easily have played on for at least one more season.

West Bromwich Albion v Manchester United - Premier League

To play for Man Utd at any age is an achievement - but to play for the English giants in your mid-30s or, in the case of Van der Sar and Giggs, your 40s is hugely impressive.

That said, most of the players on this list were moved on or retired at the right time.

Knowing when to get rid of a player on was one of Ferguson’s great strengths, and perhaps United have missed this level of ruthlessness in recent seasons.

But a lot of these players were also leaders on and off the pitch - and it shows how important senior players are at a football club like Man Utd.

United currently lack experienced leaders and what they’d give to have a player like Keane, Giggs or Scholes in their squad right now.

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