We continue with our ‘best ever’ vote series, where we put across a selection of players to you, the reader, in attempt to define our readers’ XI. The poll remains open for five days and we will also be running our writers’ XI and revealing our former player contributors XI’s too.
The team will be assembled in a 4-4-2 formation. We are aware that certain difficulties will be presented when considering players from older generations where the formation doesn’t quite fit. The most common example of this is Duncan Edwards who played at half back. This was an era when four man defences were only just coming into the fore and were certainly unfamiliar in British football, and the half back played on the outside of what would be classed as a modern midfield three. However, their duties included pushing wide when defending, assuming the role of a modern full back.
For this reason, where such a player excelled in two roles, we will include the player in both categories we feel appropriate and if that player scores highest in both categories, whichever one he attracted the most votes in will determine the position he will be selected in.
Today, we’re on the left wing.
There can be no doubting Billy Meredith’s place in United’s history. 335 appearances were made over 15 controversial years (including the five year war interruption to the football calendar) for the outside left who won two Division One titles and an FA Cup. Meredith holds the distinction of also being United’s oldest ever outfield player at the age of 46 years and 281 days.
John Aston may not be an obvious name but how can you leave out someone who was man of the match in a European Cup Final packed with stellar performances? It was wing play the likes of which United supporters enjoyed in his 188 appearances at the club.
We may have a certain amount of bias but Gordon Hill is a worthy candidate for this distinction – his stay at Old Trafford was all too sweet but a look at his performances and records shows what a star the Reds had on their hands. By the time of his sale (hugely unpopular with supporters) he had a goal ratio similar to that of Cristiano Ronaldo’s at the club and that was without penalties – and, mostly, the strikes that left Hill’s feet were blockbusters.
The Shankill Skinhead, Norman Whiteside, shot his way into United history with his tremendous goal which won the 1985 FA Cup. By that time, though, he had already made his name into numerous record books and possessed arguably the best left foot in English football. Injury problems cut short his career and so his potential, much like Hill’s, is consigned to the imagination. Yet what he did achieve merits inclusion in this list.
Ryan Giggs is probably the favourite – 963 games over a 23 year career in the United first team, Giggs is easily the most decorated footballer in English football history. 13 league titles, 4 FA Cups, 3 League Cups, 2 Champions League to name just a few. He scored arguably the greatest goal in United’s history in the 1999 FA Cup semi final and his contribution to the success in the club’s most glittering period was greater than any other player.