Seeing red…and blue: Top five players to turn out for both sides of Manchester divide

By Oliver Rhodes

Manchester football fans could spend all day and night debating who would make a first XI of great players for both City and United, but MM has put together a list of the top five to play for both.

5. Peter Schmeichel

A commanding general in the 18-yard box, Schmeichel continues to be heralded as one of the greatest goalkeepers.

The Great Dane raised 15 trophies with Manchester United during an eight-year spell, which included the prestigious Champions League in the 1999 treble-winning season.

From scoring against Rotor Volgograd in the 1995 UEFA Cup to saving Dennis Bergkamp’s penalty in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay, Schmeichel earned legendary status at United.

However, the Red Devils’ finest stopper also sported the sky blue jersey during the 2002-03 Premier League campaign.

Schmeichel maintained his undefeated record in the Manchester derby despite swapping allegiances, which seemed to annoy Gary Neville with the right-back refusing to shake his hand before the final derby at Maine Road.

4. Billy Meredith

The late great played a league total of 367 games for Manchester City and 303 games for Manchester United – no other player has featured more times for both.

Meredith scored two goals for City in the Football League’s first ever Manchester derby, but Newton Heath – United’s former name – won 5-2.

During his second spell at City, Meredith became one of the oldest players to play in the FA Cup at the age of 49.

Rival supporters may argue over the colour Meredith truly represented, as the Welshman became a fan favourite for both teams.

Even so, he enjoyed FA Cup success with City in 1904 and claimed two First Division titles, two FA Charity Shields and the FA Cup with United.

3. Brian Kidd

Another forward to play for the two Manchester clubs, but has also figured as assistant manager for both – Kidd, who served under Sir Alex Ferguson, is currently Roberto Mancini’s second-in-command.

During the 1968 European Cup final, Kidd celebrated his 19th birthday with the fourth goal in Manchester United’s extra-time demolition of Benfica.

But despite making more appearances for United, Kidd was more efficient for the Sky Blues with more than 50 goals in 128 appearances between 1976 and 1979.

However, Kidd was fundamental for the Red Devils once more with a key role in the maturity of Fergie’s Fledglings during the early Premier League era.

Now, the 63-year-old is looking to topple United and contribute in the ongoing transformation of Manchester City as the next football force.

2. Carlos Tevez

The powerful Argentine striker used to strike for the Reds, before moving across the city to the Etihad Stadium.

Combining skills with Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, Tevez was involved in one of the most dynamic attacking line-ups in modern times.

The trio helped United reach their second Champions League final in 2008, which they won via penalty shootout against Chelsea.

However, his relationship with the club appeared to sour and the two-year loan finished unceremoniously.

Tevez joined the Manchester City revolution in 2009 and was presented via billboard with the controversial slogan, ‘Welcome to Manchester’.

The ex-Boca Juniors player starred in his debut season with 23 goals in 32 Premier League games.

Despite the bump in the road in September 2011 – Tevez was eventually placed on garden leave following his apparent refusal to warm up against Bayern Munich – the 28-year-old completed the campaign with City and their first Premier League title.

1. Denis Law

Law was the ultimate finisher and signed for the Sky Blues in March 1960 for £55,000 – a British record transfer fee at the time.

He scored 23 goals in all competitions in the 1960-61 season, but was transferred to Torino as he searched for greater success.

However, the Italian job was rather disappointing and the Aberdeen-born Law quickly returned to England to join Manchester United – a coup for manager Sir Matt Busby, who failed with two previous attempts.

United supporters adored the Scotsman and he was nicknamed ‘The King’ for his flair and striking expertise – Law is the Reds’ second highest scorer with 237 goals in 404 games.

Forming the ‘Holy Trinity’ with the brilliant Sir Bobby Charlton and George Best, Law won the 1964-5 European Footballer of the Year as United succeeded with their revival from the tragic 1958 Munich air disaster.

Law returned to City in 1973 and scored a memorable backheel in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford to pile misery on United’s relegation from the First Division – a distressing moment for the striker himself.  

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