April 21, 2021

Man Utd

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What happened to the Man United team from David de Gea’s first game

4 min read

David de Gea has been a mainstay of the Manchester United line-up since arriving at Old Trafford a decade ago.

Many have come and gone in that time – not least legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson – but one man has at least provided a source of continuity.

United spent £18.9million a goalkeeper who, at his peak, could lay claim to being the best in the world.

However, amid the emergence of academy graduate Dean Henderson, who has been preferred between the posts in recent weeks, could United now be heading towards the end of an era?

Here is our guide to the 10 players who featured alongside de Gea on his Premier League debut, which came during a 2-1 victory at West Brom in August 2011.

Chris Smalling – The path from Manchester to Serie A has been well-trodden over the last 18 months or so. After racking up close to 300 appearances, across all competitions, for United, the centre-back completed a £13.6million move to Roma during the summer transfer window – following an initial loan spell in the Italian capital.

Rio Ferdinand – Arriving from arch rivals Leeds United in 2002, the former England international enjoyed 12 hugely successful years at Old Trafford – winning six Premier League titles and 14 major honours in total. Ferdinand hung up his boots in 2015 and now works as a pundit, in addition to his other business ventures.

Nemanja Vidic – An absolute colossus at the back for United between 2006 and 2014, the no-nonsense Serbian is regarded as one of the club’s best ever Premier League signings. Winning five titles – and the Champions League in 2018 – Vidic has somewhat faded into the backdrop since calling time on his illustrious playing career in 2016.

Fabio – Still playing and only 30 years old, the Brazilian, who shared life at Old Trafford with his twin brother Rafael, has played 19 games for French side Nantes in Ligue 1 so far this campaign. Having featured regularly, though, he has not started for coming up two months, now.

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Ashley Young – One of three ex-United players now with Italian champions elect Inter Milan, the winger turned wing-back has made 38 appearances in total for the rejuvenated Serie A giants, who are closing in on their first crown since winning five straight championships between 2006 and 2010. It doesn’t seem that long ago that Young played such a crucial part for England at the 2018 World Cup, either.

Anderson – His playing career was something of a curious case. Anderson signed for United in 2007 and came with plenty of promise, but the Brazilian was only handed 105 outings in the Premier League across eight years. At just 32, he was appointed assistant manager at Adana Demirspor (Turkey) last year.

Tom Cleverley – Deemed talented enough to win 13 caps for England between 2012 and 2013, the club’s academy graduate was another man who had to leave Old Trafford in order to command a guaranteed first-team place. On the back of two years at Everton, the 31-year-old is currently in his fourth season with Championship side Watford, who are targeting promotion at the first attempt.


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Wayne Rooney – Scorer of United’s opener at the Hawthorns that day, the former England captain of course went on to break the club’s all-time goals record before leaving Old Trafford in 2017. After spells with DC United and back at boyhood club Everton, the 35-year-old is currently embracing his first managerial role at Derby County.

Nani – Best known for his eight year stay with United, which started off so memorably – with a Premier League and Champions League double in his first season – the Portuguese is now plying his trade in the MLS. Now in the twilight of his career at 34, Nani and Orlando City are due to kick-off their latest Stateside charge this month.

Danny Welbeck – Following loans with Preston and Sunderland, de Gea’s debut marked the start of what was a breakthrough season for Welbeck at Old Trafford. A tally of 20 goals in 53 starts followed, before his departure just three years later in 2014. Now with relegation-threatened Brighton, the former England striker has scored four goals this season – amid injury set-backs.

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