When it comes to Manchester United analysis of their greatest players, those who had the lengthiest Old Trafford careers are most likely to figure prominently in the final reckoning. Think Ryan Giggs (963 games), Bobby Charlton (758), Paul Scholes (718) and Bill Foulkes (677), for example.
But what of those whose Manchester United careers were almost as brief as Sam Allardyce’s reign as English boss? Here is the all-time ‘blink and you missed them’ Manchester United XI.
[GK] Victor Valdes (two games, 2015-16)
The legendary Barcelona keeper was bought in as cover for David De Gea in 2014 but could not displace his fellow Spaniard. After a dispute with the club Valdes was released in 2016 and signed for Middlesbrough. Retired in 2017.
[DF] Marnick Vermijl (two games, 2012-14)
Signed in 2010 as a youth player from Belgium’s Standard Liege, Vermijl managed two EFL Cup games before joining Sheffield Wednesday. Last seen warming the bench for Preston.
[DF] James Chester (one game, 2009)
A youth player who did not make the grade at Old Trafford. Now at Aston Villa after spells with Hull City and West Brom, and with over two dozen caps for Wales.
[DF] Adam Eckersley (one game, 2005)
The brother of Richard Eckersley, who himself only played four times for United. Left for Port Vale in 2008 and has since played in Denmark, Scotland and Canada.
[DF] Ryan Shawcross (two games, 2006)
One that got away. After just two sub appearances at Old Trafford Shawcross was sold to Stoke City, for whom he has now made over three hundred appearances. Also has a single England cap.
[MF] Richie Wellens (one game, 1999)
Amassed over six hundred games in English football despite only one substitute appearance for United. Retired in 2017 following two games for Macclesfield Town.
[MF] Michael Twiss (two games, 1999)
An Old Trafford career of 84 minutes ended in 2000 when Twiss was sold to Port Vale. Later became a non-league stalwart playing for Leigh RMI, Chester City, Morecambe, Stalybridge Celtic and Altrincham.
[MF] Michael Appleton (two games, 1996)
Another who did not make the grade after a Man Utd youth career, Appleton was sold to Preston for £500,000 in 1997 but retired in 2001 because of a knee injury. Currently part of Leicester City’s coaching staff.
[FW] Joshua King (two games, 2009-12)
Norwegian-born King was snapped up at 16 from Valerenga, but was later sold to Blackburn in 2015 after just two games. Now a regular for EPL side Bournemouth and a frequent starter for Norway.
[FW] Phil Marsh (one game, 2006)
Marsh’s one start for United in 2006 was his only-ever game in professional football. Had his best years at non-league Stalybridge Celtic as a lethal goalscorer. Now at Runcorn Town.
[FW] Michael Barnes (one game, 2006)
Another player whose football career sadly amounted to zilch, Barnes made one sub appearance (on for Phil Marsh, then subbed himself for Ryan Shawcross). Last seen at AFC Fylde in 2015.