Man Utd and Liverpool's modern greats ranked from 'world class' to 'overrated'

  • Kobe Tong

Manchester United and Liverpool are the two biggest clubs in English football.

It might not feel that way right now with the Reds holding an insane 37-point lead over their north-west rivals, but we’re only a few days away from them being separated by just a single league title.

They are also clubs that cherish their history and former players which, aside from provoking social media banter, gives their supporters a fanatical knowledge of club legends and cult heroes.

And with United and Liverpool having the appeal to draw world-class players from across the globe, it goes without saying that some legendary stars have pulled on the famous red jerseys.

The likes of Roy Keane, Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic are all royalty at Old Trafford, while Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler are all adored on Merseyside.

United and Liverpool legends

Now, we could be all civil and polite by spending an article talking about how great they all are, but that would be boring. Instead, we’re pitting Liverpool and United’s legends against each other.

We’ve used the ‘Manchester United x Liverpool legends’ template on TierMaker – so don’t blame us for the player choices – to organise the modern greats from ‘world class’ all the way to ‘overrated’.

Frankly, there’s no way we could have gone about this without sparking controversy left, right and centre, but here’s how we thought the 21 pre-selected legends should be organised.



Ryan Giggs

Oh yes. Look, the ‘overrated’ tier at the bottom just looked so appetising that we couldn’t leave it empty and sorry Giggs, you’re the prime candidate for being eulogised about every 10 seconds.

This is by no means us saying that Giggs is any way a bad player, rather that his record haul of Premier League trophies and assists are more attributable to playing in a world-class team for 963 games as opposed to being the competition’s GOAT.

That, and the fact he has the worst goal-per-game ratio of anybody in the 100-club and only reached double-figures in a league season twice.


Middle of the road

Fernando Torres

Dirk Kuyt

Michael Carrick

Vladimír Šmicer

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but Fernando Torres is here for being more of a flash in the pan than the legends he’s competing against and ‘El Nino’ was a faded forced by the time he left Anfield in 2011.

Why on earth is Dirk Kuyt here? A cult hero, maybe, but a legend? Don’t worry, we think Giggs is a better player, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to put him in ‘overrated’ when he’s actually underrated.

Carrick is streets and streets ahead of Kuyt and far more consistent than Torres, but just look at who he’s up against here. We mean ‘middle of the road’ in the kindest way it’s ever been phrased.

Smicer? Smicer?? Smicer??? Who chose Smicer? We don’t really have an explanation for this. He’s lucky to wind up in ‘middle of the road’, to be honest.



Patrice Evra

Gary Neville

Jamie Carragher

Xabi Alonso

Steve McManaman

Ok, we’ve finally arrived amongst players who are bona fide legends and we’re starting off with arguably the Premier League’s greatest ever left-back and right-back duo: Evra and Neville.

It’s all Liverpool stars from here on in. If you think Carragher is anything less than a Liverpool great, then you’re deluded and Alonso is one of the classiest midfielders that England’s top flight has ever seen.

Finally, the tier is rounded off by Steve McManaman who, although a lesser-known quantity for younger readers, was one of the most technically-gifted players of the 1990s and went on to star for Real Madrid no less.



Michael Owen

John Barnes

Roy Keane

Rio Ferdinand

David Beckham

Paul Scholes

Robbie Fowler

Sure, Owen might be a reviled figure at Anfield these days, but lest we forget he won the freaking Ballon d’Or(!!!) during his time on Merseyside with an outrageous 158 goals in just 297 matches.

Nobody is disputing Barnes’ legendary status at Liverpool, though, after scoring more than 100 goals across 403 appearances, winning eight major honours at the club and bagging 79 caps for England.

Keane inhabits this tier as the greatest captain – maybe even midfielder, generally – to ever grace the Premier League and Ferdinand joins him as one of the finest centre-backs to pull on the United shirt.

Beckham’s legacy at Old Trafford is one that speaks for itself and the fact Zinedine Zidane called Scholes ‘untouchable’ and ‘in a class of his own’ is justification enough for his compatriot joining him.

Finally there’s Fowler who, yes, petered out during his latter seasons at Liverpool, but earned himself the incomparable title of ‘God’ for scoring more than 30 goals in three consecutive seasons.


World class

Wayne Rooney

Steven Gerrard

Cristiano Ronaldo

Nemanja Vidic

Rooney strolls into here as United and England’s all-time record goalscorer and come on, Ronaldo is Ronaldo, where else were we going to put a five-time Ballon d’Or winner?

Then, of course, we have arguably Liverpool’s greatest ever player in the form of Gerrard who deserves his place here based on the 2005 Champions League and 2006 FA Cup finals alone.

Vidic is the one pick that you could call controversial, but how good the Serbian was at centre-back, winning an unprecedented two Premier League POTY awards, is tantamount to what these three did in midfield and attack. 


Full graphic


Tough decisions to make

You’re angry, aren’t you? I know, I know, it’s a bit of a lose-lose situation for us really.

Trying to work in players from two different clubs from different eras in different positions into a few vaguely-defined tiers is always going to be difficult, so cut us a little bit of slack.

But regardless of whether you think Giggs is ‘overrated’ or Torres is only ‘middle of the road’, we’re pretty sure we can all agree that Rooney, Ronaldo, Gerrard and Vidic were a class above.

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