Fans sing about Eric Cantona.

Are United fans' chants the best?

Wednesday 22 June 2022 14:13

On this week's episode of The Debate, the subject of player fan chants was raised, with presenter Mark Sullivan suggesting Manchester United supporters are arguably the best in the country when it comes to thinking up the catchy terrace tunes.

It's been a practice within football for some time, even Joe Spence (born in 1898!) had his own song, the rather straightforward instruction of: 'Give it to Joe!' Over time, it has become a clear way of offering support for individual players and making them feel appreciated. It is also fair to say some of the chants manage a less-than-subtle dig at some of our rivals at the same time!

The Debate panel offered their views on the subject. "There are loads," commented ex-defender Wes Brown. "Obviously, growing up as a kid, there are so many different chants but those ones used are the ones who have left now. But I love the fact the fans keep coming up with songs. There is a great buzz around the stadium and I am pretty sure they will keep it coming."

That seems a given, with Anthony Elanga, one of our more recent homegrown products, enjoying an elaborate tribute based on 1992 number-one single 'Rhythm is a Dancer' by Snap!

Have you heard Elanga's new chant?


We love the tune, which honours a classic '90s dance hit!

We've heard from Diego Forlan, he who came from Uruguay and made the Scousers cry, about his affection for Elanga's song and Telegraph journalist James Ducker is also an admirer. "I think some of the simple ones have stood the test of time but they were more simple," he told The Debate. "I mean the Elanga one is pretty elaborate and is absolutely brilliantly conceived. 

"One of my colleagues did a sort of light-hearted feature on it. We are really in an era of remarkable fan chants. He didn't live up to it on the pitch much in the second half of the season but I thought the Edinson Cavani one was superb. It was quite simple in concept but really worked and really gathered momentum that, around the stadium. They are pretty innovative."

Of course, there are so many classics that will be remembered fondly by different generations. Danny Webber recalls his youth being dominated by the powerful presence of Eric Cantona, following his dramatic arrival at Old Trafford to spark the glory years under Alex Ferguson. "People like Cantona are still having their song ringing out, though it's only a simple one, it hit home," he said. "I remember being a kid and you'd walk around the streets and hearing 'Ooh aah Cantona, say ooh aah Cantona'. Some of them are still there and will be there forever."

It's also worth pointing out the '12 Cantonas' song gets repeat airings throughout December every year and there's the 'Eric the King' classic as well (to the tune of 'Lily the Pink' by The Scaffold).

There were songs in the 1960s, such as one for Denis Law about him being the 'son of a fisherman' and 'the King of the Football League'. A chant proclaimed Bobby Charlton as 'better than Pele' and also the popular 'I don't know why Eusebio and I say Kiddo' ditty after the teenager scored in the 1968 European Cup final against the Portugal international's brilliant Benfica side.

We still hear 'We all live in a Georgie Best world' nowadays, a fitting tribute to the gifted genius, who also has a song to 'Spirit in the Sky'. Another well-aired tune was 'Willie Morgan on the wing'.

Moving into the following decade, and 'Six foot two, eyes of blue, Big Jim Holton's after you' gained real traction, in honour of the strong-man central defender. We'd walk a million miles for one of Stuart 'Pancho' Pearson's goals and who can forget the just perfect 'Skip to the Lou Macari'?

It is impossible to list them all because there are so many but Cantona's first song was a remix of 'ooh aah Paul McGrath' in the 1980s, while there genuinely was 'only one Bryan Robson' (well, perhaps only if you exclude Bryan 'Pop' Robson who later arrived at United in a coaching capacity). Brian McClair's signing and subsequent flurry of goals led to him being 'here there and everywhere' (expletive deleted).

United fans pay tribute to George Best after his death in 2005.

There was a time when it seemed like virtually every player had his own song when the trophies kept coming in the 1990s under Sir Alex. The big Dutch man Jaap Stam, Gary Neville was a Red, the aforementioned Wesley Brown (the hardest man in all the town), Roy Keane and his magic hat, Paul Scholes scored goals and who put the ball in the Scousers/Germans' net? Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and don't forget Alan Shearer was the dearer striking option.

Sometimes the chant elevated players to real cult status. John O'Shea never marched down the wing that much after excelling at full-back for a while (a fine win at Newcastle United springs to mind) but it would get sung forever more after his late winner at Anfield. Liverpool's home was also the venue for Forlan's greatest game in a red shirt and his double strike fully deserved such attention.

It felt magical to wave scarves in unison while chanting 'Viva Ronaldo' as Cristiano matured into becoming a world-class Ballon d'Or winner and scored in Moscow in the Champions League final against Chelsea. Others in that great 2007/08 side also had their own song, including Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney and Owen Hargreaves (I want curly hair too).

Michael Carrick played in that game but would only gain his 'hard to believe it's not Scholes' tune, based on Pilot's 'Magic', after his midfield colleague retired (for a second time).

Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes.

Joy Division's 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' was used for Ryan Giggs primarily (after initially being loved by the Reds but feared by the Blues) but also Phil Neville as a cheeky reference to a great goal he scored and an ability to dribble forwards, aided by some step-overs. 

'Seven Nation Army' by The White Stripes was one of the main soundtracks to our last title win, belted out regularly to laud the name of talismanic striker Robin van Persie. The Dutchman's fellow countryman Ruud van Nistelrooy had enjoyed a similarly straightforward chant, albeit accompanied by 'la, la, la, la, la' as per a Boney M classic.

In the post-Sir Alex era, Adnan Januzaj had a couple of songs in his honour when he made a breakthrough into the first team while Radamel Falcao (lo, lo, lo etc) and our 'Swedish hero' Zlatan Ibrahimovic also generated plenty of noise among many an away end, even if they did have relatively short stays at the club. Current first-team squad members such as 'Portuguese magnifico' Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay (nobody can hear 'This Girl' without saying his name during the chorus) and Axel Tuanzebe (Manfred Mann's 'Do Wah Diddy Diddy') are among those to have individualised songs and there are simply too many more to cover exhaustively.

Even Ronaldo is back to provide a regular airing of his tunes (he plays on the left, he plays on the right) but look out for more innovative, catchy efforts from the United faithful in 2022/23 because, once they get into your head, they never leave!