Which United legend deserves your vote?
The Premier League is about to induct six new names into its Hall of Fame, and a whopping 12 former Manchester United players are in the running.
'ONLY SHEARER AND ROONEY HAVE SCORED MORE THAN COLE'
Andy Cole is criminally under-rated in many quarters and was never appreciated as much as he should have been. His figures, particularly a stunning goal return, speak for themselves and the fact only Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney have scored more times in the Premier League means he must always be in any discussion for the division’s Hall of Fame.
Looking back on how his exploits were covered, there was often a negative slant in the press, which maybe just related to the fact he arrived at Old Trafford for a record fee. I remember the excitement when the transfer happened completely out of the blue and it is fair to say Coley did not fail to deliver the goods.
There is also a case for the striker being one of the most improved players over his spell at Old Trafford as he arrived with a reputation for being a predator who finished off chances from close range but matured into an excellent attacker who scored a variety of strikes, including some memorable spectacular and acrobatic efforts which showcased his ability.
– Adam Marshall
'NEVILLE WAS TENACIOUS FOR TWO DECADES'
When it comes to staking a claim for a place in the Premier League Hall of Fame, amassing exactly 400 appearances in the competition across 17 gruelling seasons, picking up a remarkable eight winner’s medals, lifting the trophy as captain in 2007 and being named in the Premier League’s PFA Team of the Year on no less than five occasions make Gary Neville's case a pretty solid one to put forward.
But it’s not just the stats that tell the whole story. Gary left it all out there on the pitch whenever he represented Manchester United and nearly two decades of tenacious toil finally took their toll, catching up with him on New Year’s Day 2011 when he knew it was time to call it a day after a league match away to West Brom. It was a typically honest call from a passionate player who lived out the dreams of millions of Reds and had wrung out every drop from a career representing the club he loves.
– Ian McLeish
'VIDIC WAS THE GRIT IN A TRULY GREAT DEFENSIVE PARTNERSHIP'
United had gone three years without a Premier League title when Nemanja signed in January 2006. Over the next seven full seasons, the Reds would miss out on domestic glory just twice – both times by the barest of margins – as the teak-tough Serbian joined Rio Ferdinand to establish one of the most formidable central defensive partnerships the English game has ever seen. Ferdinand was the better pure footballer and a prototype for the modern-day centre-back, whereas Vidic embodied the gritty and old-school ‘put your head where it hurts’ style.
Who you prefer is down to personal choice, but Nemanja’s leadership skills – his last two titles came as club captain – and penchant for a key goal tip the balance for me, plus he’s one of just three players to complete a Premier League Player of the Season award double. The other two are Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry, which only further emphasises what an impact the big man had at Old Trafford.
– Sam Carney
'RIO REVOLUTIONISED THE CENTRE-BACK POSITION'
I subscribe to the opinion that Rio Ferdinand is the greatest centre-back in Manchester United history and, when you study his whole career, there is a compelling case to state he is the best the Premier League has ever seen. For me it is all about the trail that he blazed across time.
Consider the evidence: the Peckham-born star began at West Ham in 1996 during an era when defending focused more on steel than silk, when sliding tackles, thumping row-Z clearances and mud-stained shorts were the celebrated norm. Rio could do all of that if needed, but he had more style and his ability to read the game – rather than react to it – revolutionised the position.
Having emerged from Upton Park, Ferdinand helped Leeds to enjoy their best two seasons in decades and then Sir Alex Ferguson came calling. The white suit was a polarising start, granted, but Rio backed it up by lifting six league titles (plus four more major honours) across 12 seasons at Old Trafford. He set the gold standard for modern centre-backs and the greatest compliment is perhaps that he could play in any era: put him in 1992/93, 2012/13 or 2021/22 and he’d be the best.
– Mark Froggatt
'SCHMEICHEL DESERVES TO BE GOALKEEPING'S FIRST HALL OF FAMER'
Players inducted into Hall of Fames across all sports should have an iconic, pioneering and best-in-class aura about them and Peter Schmeichel absolutely ticks all of those boxes.
The Great Dane was not just an elite-level shot-stopper, but a complete goalkeeper, player and leader on the field. He was also a trailblazer, not only for his modern goalkeeping style of the time, but as one of only 13 non-British or Irish players to play in the Premier League’s inaugural campaign. Across seven seasons in the division with United, our legendary stopper racked up 252 appearances, 112 clean sheets and five titles, while remaining, to this day, the only player in his position to win the league’s Player of the Season award following an outstanding 1995/96 campaign. Having departed the Reds for Sporting in 1999, Peter would return to English football’s top flight with Aston Villa and Manchester City in the years after, going on to pass the 300-game mark. He would even become a goalscorer in the competition, before being named in its first-ever ‘Team of the Decade’.
With outfield players making up the Hall of Fame’s first 10 inductees, it’s time for a ‘keeper, and there have been none better than Schmeichel senior.
– Mikey Partington