Manchester United are the greatest club in Premier League history and it isn’t even close.
Say what you like about the Red Devils’ trials and tribulations under David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, but winning the league 13 times in 21 years is nothing short of a joke.
Iconic squad numbers
Such is the abundance of icons to have pulled on the famous red jerseys, it’s probably a good thing that football doesn’t follow in the American sports tradition of retiring certain squad numbers.
You’d frankly be seeing Marcus Rashford jogging around with ’72’ on his back or David de Gea standing between the sticks wearing ’45’ because all the rudimentary numbers would be gone.
Ok, it’s maybe not that extreme, but this idea made us think of a unique way of looking at United’s legends in the Premier League era and that’s by going through squad numbers from 1 to 30.
Best players from #30 to #1
So, we’ve named our picks for the best United player since 1992 to wear each squad number.
Players can only be chosen once and, for the most part, we’ve tried to keep individuals attached to the number they played in the most, so no Paul Scholes with ’22’ or David Beckham with ’10’.
Check out our selections down below and trust us when we say it gets tougher and tougher as the numbers get smaller:
30. Wes Brown
Ok, sue us, we’re having to rip up one of our rules early doors because, well, nobody made the number 30 jersey iconic at Old Trafford. Not even close.
So, instead of picking Ritchie de Laet, Guillermo Varela or Matteo Darmian, we’ll abuse the fact that Brown – a very underrated United player – wore number 30 during United’s treble-winning season.
29. Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Don’t worry, we’re not swimming in recency bias here, it’s just that ‘The Spider’ only has James Wilson, Wilfried Zaha and Jonathan Spector for competition. We rest our case.
28. Darron Gibson
Sure, Beckham did wear number 28 during his first few seasons at Old Trafford, but when have you ever seen somebody go to Old Trafford and get that number printed under Golden Balls’ name?
And while we could have chosen Barcelona legend Gerard Pique, we’ve gone for Gibson because, as mad as it sounds, he actually had a better United career than the World Cup winner.
27. Marouane Fellaini
Have we just picked Mourinho’s soulmate ahead of Mikaël Silvestre? Yes, yes, we have.
Fellaini was an incredibly useful player during his seven-year stay and we’re backing him over Silvestre for having a greater individual impact on his United team, even if his trophy cabinet is comparatively barren.
26. Mason Greenwood
Again, don’t panic, we’ve not just watched highlights of the Bournemouth game and concluded that Greenwood is the second coming of Lionel Messi.
Rather, he must be seen as United’s greatest number 26 of the Premier League era because he’s only competing against Shinji Kagawa, Phil Bardsley, Gabriel Obertan and Massimo Taibi.
25. Antonio Valencia
An underrated gem of United’s last 10 years and I’m sure we can all agree that the Ecuadorian was a better player Nick Powell, Danny Simpson, Quinton Fortune, David Jones and Kevin Pilkington.
24. Darren Fletcher
We’re slowly starting to get into the territory of bona fide United legends and it’s for good reason that the greatest manager of all time picked Fletcher more than 300 times with this number on his back.
23. Luke Shaw
Tom Cleverley? Eh. Jonny Evans? Maybe. Kieran Richardson? Nah. Phil Neville? 12 and 3 were more his thing. Luke Shaw? There we go.
Shaw gets a hard rep at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ sometimes – we’re looking at you, Mourinho – but the Englishman won the club’s Player of the Year award last season and has been omnipresent in the current 16-game unbeaten run.
22. John O’Shea
Ah yes, the Irish full-back that could nutmeg Luis Figo and score a delightful chip against Arsenal‘s ‘Invincibles’. A cult hero at Old Trafford if ever we’ve seen one.
Scholes might have worn this number when he came out of retirement in 2011, but we’ve got a number reserved for the genius himself a little later on, so let’s give O’Shea his moment in the sun.
21. Ander Herrera
There’s less competition for number 21 than you might expect with Rafael actually emerging as Herrera’s biggest rival, but we’re opting for one of the club’s best ever post-Fergie signings.
The robust Spaniard broke up David de Gea’s monopoly on the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award for a stellar 2016/17 season and he’d still do a fantastic job for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
20. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
And speaking of Solskjaer… yes, we have picked the ‘The Baby-faced Assassin’ over Robin van Persie who – we hate to break it you – only had one decent season at Old Trafford, even if it did secure them the title.
Solskjaer, on the other hand, scored the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final and wracked up 126 strikes in the famous red jersey despite often being confined to the bench.
19. Dwight Yorke
Incredibly underrated in the pantheon of great United strikers, Yorke bagged the Premier League Golden Boot and the treble in his debut season and formed a deadly partnership with a player still to come…
18. Paul Scholes
Like, duh? Scholes is one of the greatest midfielders of the modern era, never mind just at United, so any explanation for his inclusion would just be condescending to a legend whose skills spoke for themselves.
Moving from Solskjaer, Yorke and Scholes to Nani does seem like a clunky gear shift, don’t get us wrong, but the Portuguese only really has Fred, Daley Blind and Henrik Larsson for competition.
Plus, we’re inclined to think Nani’s 2010/11 season is one of the finest we’ve seen from a United player over the last decade, scoring nine goals and providing a mind-boggling 19 assists.
16. Roy Keane
The greatest captain to ever grace the Premier League and he’d probably show you exactly why if you ever doubted that to his face.
Keane is a giant of the modern game, winning 17 major honours with the Red Devils and of course he’s our pick for the squad number he made iconic.