Manchester United

Looking Back at Manchester United’s Number 7s After Cristiano Ronaldo

Looking Back at Manchester United’s Number 7s After Cristiano Ronaldo

1 Michael Owen (2009-2012)

The transfer of Michael Owen came as a surprise to most EPL fans, United signed him from Liverpool in 2009.He donned the legendary no.7 jersey straight after Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s mostly remembered for his stoppage time winning goal against United’s rivals, Manchester City, where United won 4-3.The United star was also known for a match deciding opening goal against CSKA Moscow in a Champions League matchup. But injuries were a large part of his career and that pattern continued while he played on United’s side which led to him getting opportunities only against weaker opponents during the league cup. The next season was great for the Red Devils striker where he appeared regularly for his side during the pre-season, he scored 2 goals against Scunthorpe United in the league and scored an equaliser against Bolton. He was then used as substitute from the bench and was a crucial player on the squad. He scored on the last day of the season against Blackpool in 4-1 win for Manchester United and grabbed his first Premier League trophy. By this time players like Wayne Rooney and Berbatov were making their presence felt and this caused him to get side-lined. United let him go at the end of that season after the expiry of his three year deal.

2 Antonio Valencia (2012-2013)

After Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia was the next player to wear the no.7 jersey for the United side. He started with blistering form and won Manchester United’s player of the year award and the club’s Goal of the season for his beautiful shot against Blackburn. He was being compared to the likes of Roberto Carlos and the club felt he fit the bill for the no. 7 shirt perfectly and hoped he would continue his amazing form at Old Trafford. But to the disappointment of the Club and Valencia himself his form was on a downward spiral during the following year. He wasn’t able to beat the defenders of the opponents with the same ease he displayed in the last two seasons. Though his partnership with United’s right back Rafael was praised and so was his positional sense, the people believed that he wasn’t himself and that the pressure of living up to the number 7 shirt on his back was getting to him. He later switched to wearing a no.25 shirt looking to return to his original form. Whereas his form did pick up again, his form wasn’t of the same player that initially joined the Red Devils. Valencia still plays with the United side and is a regular starter for them.

3 Angel Di Maria (2014-2015)

Di Maria joined United in 2014 and as expected was immediately given the no.7 shirt. He was expected to be the Ronaldo of the side and he was hailed as a “Galactico” and was expected to carry United straight back into the elite teams of Europe. United signed him for a record breaking   £59 million. He made a great first impression at his debut game against Burnley.  He displayed his skills with a beautiful free kick against QPR carrying United to 4-0 win. He later assisted two goals against Leicester and scored an amazing chip against them, but ended up losing 5-3 against them. He won the player of the month award in September. Just as people’s expectations were rising the unfortunate happened and he had a hamstring injury and people believe that he hasn’t played the same since. After returning to United he scored again and was used as a forward, but Di Maria’s style of play was such that he constantly lost the ball and manager Van Gaal insisted on keeping ball possession, this led to him being dropped. He was sent off from a game against Arsenal for diving and Di Maria started spending longer on the bench than the pitch because the manager preferred Juan Mata over him as he couldn’t track back and defend. He was eventually judged as an expensive flop quite unfairly as he didn’t get enough time to settle into his position, eventually he was sold to the French giants PSG where he did well.

4 Memphis Depay (2015-2017)

Memphis Depay came into the public eye in 2014 after playing a key role in carrying his country to the World cup semi-finals. He also was the star player of PSV and won the best player award and was also the top scorer in the league. After fighting off competitors like PSG and Liverpool, United signed him for £25 million, The 20 year old was compared to the likes of Arjen Robben and Ronaldo and the crowd couldn’t wait to see a player with such amazing dead ball skills do his magic on the pitch. He was playing again Van Gaal again and was expected to develop into a world class player. Though he didn’t have an impressive debut  he displayed his skills by scoring two goals in the champions league matchup against Club Brugge he showed the same great form in the other leg with an assist to Wayne Rooney and soon scored his first PL goal against Sunderland. His flamboyant lifestyle off the pitch resulted in him being dropped from the side. He made a comeback by scoring a wonderful volley against Watford, but went on to disappoint in the next match against Chelsea due to his lethargic defending. He received a lot of criticism from fans and pundits and was being used as a late substitute in most matches this season his tendency to lose the ball in crucial matchups costed him his place on the Red Devils side. He was sold to Olympique Lyonnais during the January transfer window.

It is clear to see that the last four payers carrying the no.7 shirt on their back have disappointed, it will be interesting to see who wears this shirt next and if they live up to the legend or gets in line with past 4 players wearing it.

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