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Manchester United are doing unspeakable violence to the word "legend"

Representatives from United's history will be strutting their stuff in Barcelona this evening, and a few names might surprise you.

Manchester United Legends v Real Madrid Legends Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Words are extraordinarily flexible things. They can bend and contort, they can twist and be twisted. And the very act of using a word can expand its meaning. But we don't think we're exaggerating when we say that Manchester United haven't just stretched the definition of the word legend: they've broken it in half, thrown it into a fire, taken the ashes, and scattered them into the seas.

Tonight, United take on Barcelona in a "Legends are Back" game at the Camp Nou. It's on MUTV, if you like that sort of thing, and can also be streamed on Barcelona's website. And here is the teamsheet. It's a thing of wonder:

So, straight off the bat, we won't be impugning the legendary status of Dwight Yorke or Clayton Blackmore. And if you try, you will be banned.

Now, we can just about see how Raimond van der Gouw, Wes Brown, Ronny Johnsen, Mikaël Silvestre, Park Ji-sung and Louis Saha might be considered legend-adjacent. Perhaps. At a push. They played in some decent teams.

Alan Smith played in the 7-1, and Jesper Blomqvist started the 1999 Champions League final, so okay. They can have a pass too. So too Russell Beardsmore, for that 3-1 over Liverpool.

And fine, yes, Karel Poborský is absolutely a legend. Not for Manchester United, but still, 118 caps for the Czech Republic is pretty good going.

But after that? Well ... let's just say that by our count, there's at least five players there whose appearances for United can be counted on your fingers. Call us prescriptivists if you must, but we reckon legendary status requires, at a bare minimum, double figures. If Bojan Djordjic starts both legs, he'll have made as many appearances for the Legends as he did the first team.

No disrespect intended to the players themselves, of course; that's more United appearances than most humans ever manage, and we assume this is all for a good cause. Barcelona, incidentally, are starting with a midfield of Gaizka Mendieta, Edgar Davids, Rivaldo, Ludovic Giuly and Simão, with Ronaldinho up front. Best of luck, Bojan.

Kick off is at 6 o'clock pm, British Summer Time.