Derby Day Defectors, Part Two: Three more players to see both sides of the Manchester derby

7th January 2020

The Manchester Derby from both sides

It’s January. You’re back at work. The madness of the Christmas football schedule is over having only cost a few players’ hamstrings and whatever the cost is of forgetting to cancel your new Prime membership before it renews. So, what now?

Well, the cup. Obviously.

This year’s FA Cup has already thrown up a few interesting ties – former giants Leeds lost out to former giants Arsenal (brace for Twitterstorm) and Liverpool’s kids sent Everton back into an existential spiral. So now it’s over to the League Cup semi finals. Forget the Merseyside derby, this is the Manchester derby.

If you missed the first instalment of Derby Day Defectors, stop reading right now and come back when you’ve righted the wrong. Otherwise, here it goes: three more players who are lucky not to have played for Malmö.


Manchester United - Old Trafford - Manchester Derby

Old Trafford ǀ Manchester United Football ©Manchester United football


Owen Hargreaves

Starting with the most recent player to cross the red and blue line. Hargreaves signed for Manchester United in 2007 for £17million after a highly successful spell with German giants Bayern Munich, during which he won four Bundesliga titles, three German cups and a Champions League medal.

A successful first campaign saw Hargreaves earn a Premier League winners’ medal while also scoring the winning penalty in the 07-08 Champions League final for a debut season double.

Hargreaves’ United career was blighted by injuries and he was released by the club when his contract ran out in 2011. Alex Ferguson named him as one of his most disappointing signings in his 2013 autobiography.

Signed as a free agent, Hargreaves’ pitch time at City was again limited by injuries, making only one appearance for the Citizens before retiring from football at the end of the season.

Did you know: Born in Canada to a Welsh mother and English father, Hargreaves is the only England international to pick up a cap without first living in the country.



Manchester City Football Club - Etihad Stadium - Manchester Derby

Manchester City Football – Etihad Stadium Pitch and Emblem, Manchester © Courtesy of Marketing Manchester


Peter Schmeichel

A United legend, Schmeichel is widely regarded as one of the best keepers to pull on the gloves.

Relatively unknown outside of his native Denmark, Schmeichel made a name for himself on the international scene. United signed him from Brøndby for £505,000 in 1991, a deal Alex Ferguson later referred to as the ‘bargain of the century.’

A Champions League winner with United in the 98-99 treble season, things could have been very different for Schmeichel. After letting slip a 3-0 lead against Liverpool in 1994, Schmeichel had an explosive row with manager Ferguson, who promptly sacked him. An impromptu apology to his teammates was overheard by Ferguson and Schmeichel was allowed to stay.

Schmeichel won five Premier League trophies with United before spells at Aston Villa and Sporting Lisbon. He signed for City in 2002 on a free transfer.

A draw at Old Trafford that season and a win at Maine Road ensured Schmeichel kept up his impressive record of never having lost a Manchester derby.

Did you know: Schmeichel scored ten goals across his goalkeeping career.


Manchester United - Old Trafford - Manchester Derby

Old Trafford ǀ Manchester United Football ©Manchester United football


Andy Cole

A shock signing for United from Newcastle in the January window of 1995, Cole scored 12 goals in the season’s 18 remaining matches, including five in a 9-0 rout of Ipswich.

Despite this, Cole endured a mixed start to his United career and was largely overshadowed by Eric Cantona upon Cantona’s return from a lengthy ban for an ‘altercation’ with a fan.

Things got worse for Cole in 95-96 when he broke both of his legs following a challenge by Neil Ruddock in a reserve match at Anfield. Ruddock later joked that he hadn’t intended to break both legs, just one.

Cantona’s retirement and a strong partnership former with Dwight Yorke saw Cole return to form in 98-99 with the pair scoring a combined 53 goals as United won a Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup treble.

Cole signed for City on a free ahead of the 02-03 season. However, injury ended his second stint in Manchester and he moved to Portsmouth the following season.

Did you know: With 187 goals in the competition, Cole is the third-highest goalscorer in Premier League history.


Inspired by dreams of the Manchester derby? Want to experience the grandeur of City and United firsthand? Why not book a stadium tour.

Written by Jack Meredith