Ryan Giggs.

Five memorable Man United derby debuts

In the latest episode of UTD Podcast, Phil Neville tells us about the drama that surrounded his Premier League debut for the club, in the Manchester derby of February 1995.

Neville had made just one previous senior appearance for the Reds, in an FA Cup tie versus Wrexham, and was given little indication that he would be play in the Premier League fixture against Manchester City at Maine Road.
 
Instead, Alex Ferguson told him to accompany the squad to help the kit-man, Norman Davies. But then, at the pre-match meal, Phil was staggered to hear his name read out in the starting XI.
Few debuts come in such prestigious fixtures, but they are not as rare as you might think.
 
Phil's tale got us thinking about other famous names that have been introduced to the United limelight in one of our biggest domestic fixtures. Here are five derby-day debuts to remember...
 
SAMMY McILROY
City 3 United 3 (6 November 1971)
 
If Neville's shock place in the United starting line-up in 1995 was a turn up for the books, imagine how 17-year-old Sammy McIlroy felt when Frank O'Farrell called the young Northern Irishman into his office on the morning of the 92nd Manchester derby in 1971. Denis Law had failed a late fitness test, and United's latest great Belfast hope was in. Replacing a legendary Ballon d'Or winner in Law, and lining up alongside two more in George Best and Bobby Charlton, would have terrified some. But Sammy Mac wasn't fazed. He scored United's first and then set up our other two, for Brian Kidd and Alan Gowling, in a pulsating 3-3 draw.
RYAN GIGGS
United 1 City 0 (4 May 1991)
 
Ryan had made his first-team debut when coming as a substitute against Everton in March 1991. But his first start came in the derby, two months later, and he responded by delivering the decisive moment of the game. Well, we say that, but although Giggs is credited with the only goal of the match, debate has raged for years as to whether he actually got a touch on the Brian McClair cross that Colin Hendry diverted into the City net. Either way, it's gone down as the first of Giggs's 168 United goals, and made his first start for the club a derby day to remember.
 
ERIC CANTONA
United 2 City 1 (6 December 1992)
 
Arguably United's most important signing of the 1990s replaced Giggsy when making his own first appearance for the club. United were 1-0 against City up when Eric Cantona came on at half-time for his bow in Red in December 1992, after a shock move from Leeds United in late November. It was a quiet evening for the Frenchman – wearing the unfamiliar no.12 on his back – but for the Blues, this was the calm before the storm: Eric would score eight goals in his next six appearances against our cross-town rivals. This cameo, which featured one outrageous backheel, was a light taster of what was to come.

Top 10: Giggs goalsVideo

PHIL NEVILLE
City 0 United 3 (11 February 1995)
 
The first Neville brother to play in a Manchester derby, Phil made his first Premier League start for United in this comfortable win in February 1995. Denis Irwin switched to right-back for the occasion, and the younger Neville acquitted himself well on the opposite flank, in a team stuffed with experienced stars like Peter Schmeichel, Steve Bruce, Paul Ince, Brian McClair and Andy Cole. This was the fourth in a run of eight successive United derby victories, which stretched from November 1993 to November 2000.
 
PATRICE EVRA
City 3 United 1 (14 January 2006)
 
One famously unhappy derby debut came in 2006, when Patrice Evra was thrown into the fire at Eastlands shortly after signing. The Frenchman endured a nightmare start to his Reds career, and was substituted after just 45 minutes, having being given the runaround by right-winger Trevor Sinclair. City were 2-0 up at the break, and eventually won the game 3-1. Evra recently told UTD Podcast it was one of his favourite experiences while at the club, as it showed him the standards he would have to reach to eke out a successful career in M16. Happily, he would make 378 further appearances for the club, and go on to achieve legendary status.
 

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