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Unpopular XI: Manchester United players we hate(d)

Just the worst

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Burnley v Manchester United - Turf Moor

We all love Manchester United. We’ve all spent hours and hours (and hours) of our lives dedicated to this club, and the players who represent it. But that doesn’t mean that we’ve loved every player who’s pulled on the famous red shirt, of course. United fans are notorious for their fierce and protective loyalty — we don’t boo our own at Old Trafford, we’re not Arsenal for god’s sake — but privately, we’ve seen enough great and dedicated players to spot a fraud when we see one.

But this isn’t just about bad players, per se, because that would be easy enough. No, this is about players who we just didn’t like. Maybe it was partly because they were bad, maybe it was because of something they did after they left, maybe it was because of something that they have no control over at all, or maybe they just have one of those punchable faces.

We expect that some of you will find this team controversial. It’s obviously highly subjective. Amongst ourselves, we strongly — violently — disagree with some of our colleagues’ choices. But that’s what makes this fun. Here is our most hated Manchester United XI.

Let’s fight.

Roy Carroll

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - Second Leg - AC Milan v Manchester United - Manchester United Training - Giuseppe Meazza
Tim Howard and a fan
Photo by Martin Rickett - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

High profile mistakes be darned, Roy Carroll never proved himself to be that much of an upgrade over Tim Howard. And I stan Tim Howard. Get out of the damn net Roy, I want to watch Timmy play for the famous Manchester United! - PK

Gary Neville

West Bromwich Albion v Manchester United - Premier League
Washed like fresh laundry.
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

I know this is going to be the most controversial selection, but hear me out. As a young United fan, I missed Neville’s prime. By the time I was able to watch matches Neville was for the most part hurt. I knew he was our captain and a great right-back, but by the time he came back he was off the pace and a shell of himself.

It wasn’t so much his performances, but everyone else’s. We had just won a Champions League final with Wes Brown at right-back. A year later we went back to the final with John O’Shea there. That was when Rafael Da Silva came into the mix. I LOVED Rafael. I knew he was young and learning and couldn’t play every week. When we needed stability back there we had to go with O’Shea, but when Fergie decided to rotate, I wanted Rafa, and if it was Neville I was annoyed. Especially when I watched him get beat for pace.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate what Neville did, but at the time I hated seeing him out there because it was at the expense of Rafael. - PK

Jonny Evans

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Fergu
Evans having a ‘mare.
Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Gerard Pique left some big shoes to fill as the third defender behind Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić, and Jonny Evans would have needed to add a hell of a lot of stuffing to fill them. I can’t tell you how many times replays would show Evans standing on the six yard box watching his man score instead of actually trying to defend him. Think of all the late comebacks that we conceded and how many times was Jonny Evans involved in them?

He wasn’t even a threat going forward to balance out his terrible defending. Pique scored two goals his last year at Old Trafford, it took Evans four seasons to score one! There is no player in United history that caused a more visceral reaction from me whenever I saw his name on the team sheet. - PK

Luke Shaw

Football - UEFA Europa League - Group A - Manchester United v Fenerbahce

Mourinho was right. Is there a player who has benefited more from lowered expectations? He’s become competent lately, but no more than that. Sure, I remember those handful of good games before the injury as well, but how long is this waster going to steal a living off the back of that? He can’t be trusted, and he should make way for someone with more drive and professionalism. Also, as a rule, any player who gives up a squad number because of the expectations it comes with (looking at you, Antonio Valencia) is a coward. - BM

Ángel Di María

Manchester United v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg
I even want to slap this photo.
Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Not many former players still have songs sung about them, but most of the time it’s an honor. For Di María, he’s remembered as “That t**t from Argentina” and a “money grubbing whore.” He spent just one season at Old Trafford after becoming United’s record transfer signing, but it was clear after the first half of the season (and some pretty good performances) that Di María was either not happy with Louis Van Gaal’s plans for him, unhappy to be at United in general, or both. Shipped off to PSG just a year later for a loss of 20 million. - CD

Andreas Pereira

Just look at this compilation. It’s two minutes long, features his goals for other clubs, and shows each goal like 3 times. Could make a ten minute video of his passes to other teams. More interceptions than Brett Favre. - CD

Paul Ince

“F*cking big-time Charlie.” - The greatest manager of all time, on Paul Ince.

Bottler. Signed for them. Disgusting. - BM

Marouane Fellaini

God forgives, but I don’t when you concede a penalty in the waning minutes of injury time. A relic of the David Moyes era, never have I been so excited to see the rubbish bin emptied when he was jettisoned out of the club. But I’m sure he is a nice enough man, and I wish him all the best now that he is far away from Manchester. - NH


Soccer - FA Cup - Third Round - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images

Let me be clear. This is specifically, “Left-Wing Nani.” Right-Wing Nani was a joy. It’s not a coincidence that Nani’s best season came when Valencia was hurt and Nani was used mostly on the right.

But left-wing Nani? That dude was INFURIATING. Early on in his United career Nani cut back onto his right foot, launched a screamer into the top corner from 20 yards out and that was it. From then on every time Nani got the ball on the left side he’d do the same thing, cut in on his right and launch a shot. Most of the time it’d get blocked because the defense knew it was coming. It was like the reverse Arjen Robben except the complete opposite because Nani was terrible at it.

When that cut back shot did manage to get through, it’d usually go way wide as Nani stood there with a “hmm how did that happen?” look on his face while Rooney was standing wide open in the box, arms out, shooting Nani a “pass me the $#@%*^# ball I’m wide open” look.

I need to stop now because my blood is starting to boil just thinking about this. Right-wing Nani played within the team. Left-wing Nani just wanted to launch one from 20 yards so he could do his damn summersault and point to the name on the back of his shirt. - PK

Carlos Tevez

Credit: Jon Parker Lee

United gave you the world in 2007-08 and what do you do? Cry like a little baby, and have your crooked agent Kia Joorabchian broker a deal to take you to City. Then that billboard and the R.I.P sign were the last straw. I hope I never ever see another picture of you holding your kid again. Kissing the cup in 08 ... kissing Maradona in 2020, my how times have changed. - VR

Michael Owen

God, what a smug little shit. I would happily erase the memory of Michael Owen in a United shirt, if it wasn’t for the small matter of him scoring the winner in the greatest Manchester derby of all time. Other than that, what was the point? And we gave him that shirt number. A washed up Liverpool legend to whom we generously gifted a Premier League winner’s medal. - BM

Hated XI: Carroll; Neville, Evans, Shaw; Di María, Pereira, Ince, Fellaini, Nani; Tevez, Owen.