Where are they now? The Man Utd Xl from Paul Pogba’s debut in 2011

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Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov, Paul Pogba, Ji-Sung Park and Danny Welbeck at the final whistle of their win over Leeds. Elland Road, Leeds. September 2011.

A lot has changed at Manchester United since Paul Pogba made his debut in a League Cup tie against Leeds in September 2011. 

Pogba left United at the expiry of his contract in 2012 and joined Juventus, where he developed into one of the best midfielders in the world.

United brought him back to Old Trafford in an £89million deal in 2016, making him the world’s most expensive footballer. He won the Europa League and League Cup at United but often struggled with inconsistency and has left on a free transfer once again.

The France international leaves United after making 233 appearances for the club and the first of those came in a 3-0 win at Elland Road.

We’ve taken a look at the United team from that game to see where they all are today.

GK: Ben Amos

Amos only made seven first-team appearances for United, but in his defence, he was competing with Edwin van der Sar and David de Gea.

After loan spells at Hull City, Carlisle United and Bolton Wanderers, the goalkeeper joined the latter on a free transfer in 2015.

He left Charlton Athletic at the end of the 2020-21 season and was linked with a return to Old Trafford but ultimately decided against it. 

“It was spoken about, going to Manchester United,” he said. “But in all honesty, at the age of 31, I needed to be playing regular football. It was never really a serious discussion because I wanted to be playing week in, week out.”

Amos then reunited with fellow United academy graduate Will Keane at Wigan Atheltic and helped them win the League One title in his debut season. 

RB: Antonio Valencia

After filling in at right-back for the game against Leeds, Valencia made a permanent transition to the role under Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.

The former Ecuador international, who won United’s Players’ Player of the Year award in 2011-12 and 2016-17, was later named club captain in 2018. 

But he struggled with injuries during the 2018-19 season and was subsequently released, bringing an end to his 10-year spell at the club.

The 36-year-old returned to his native Ecuador with LDU Quito and then spent six months at Mexican side Queretaro before hanging up his boots in May 2021.

READ: A tribute to Antonio Valencia, the winger turned world-class right-back

CB: Michael Carrick

Despite being a midfielder, Carrick started in the centre of defence against Leeds. He went on to enjoy his best-ever season in 2012-13, winning the United Players’ Player of the Year award and earning a place in the PFA Team of the Year.

After adding the FA Cup and the Europa League to his plethora of honours, he retired in 2018 and worked as a first-team coach under Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The 40-year-old was the Red Devils’ caretaker manager for three games in 2021 but left Old Trafford following Ralf Rangnick’s arrival.

CB: Ezekiel Fryers

Alongside Pogba, Fryers also made his senior United debut in the 3-0 win at Elland Road but it was one of just six appearances for the club.

He left United in 2012 after a contract dispute and wanted a move to Tottenham, but a compensation fee for United couldn’t be agreed upon. The left-back joined Standard Liege before controversially signing for Spurs a few months later.

“I’m disappointed in Tottenham. I think it’s a blatant manipulation of the situation,” Sir Alex Ferguson said at the time.

But he failed to live up to the hype, making just 16 first-team appearances for Tottenham before dropping down the football league pyramid.

The 29-year-old has now joined Northern Premier League Division One West side Macclesfield ahead of the 2022-23 season.

LB: Fabio

Despite starting in the 2011 Champions League final, Fabio made just 15 appearances for United during the 2011-12 season. He joined QPR on loan in 2012 before completing a permanent move to Cardiff City in January 2014.

The full-back then spent two seasons at Middlesbrough before joining Ligue 1 side Nantes in 2018, where he remains to this day.

RM: Federico Macheda (Larnell Cole, 77)

Macheda burst onto the scene with that winning goal against Aston Villa in 2009 but failed to build on his stunning start in the first team.

After starting against Leeds, he made just eight more first-team appearances for United before being released at the end of the 2013-14 season.

“Maybe I was just happy to be there,” he told ESPN in 2017. “Maybe I didn’t push myself to the limit to make the next step because I felt that I had the faith of the manager. Fergie loved me.

“I was happy with my life but maybe I was too happy with a big contract and should have pushed myself a lot more.”

The striker had brief spells at Cardiff City, Nottingham Forest and Novara but has since found a home at Greek side Panathinaikos.

Cole made his one and only United appearance in the 3-0 win over Leeds and was sold to Fulham in January 2014. He is currently without a club after leaving non-league side Radcliffe Borough in 2020. 

READ: Revisiting Federico Macheda’s title-deciding Man Utd debut in 2009

CM: Ryan Giggs (Paul Pogba, 46)

Giggs announced his retirement from football in 2014 after winning 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two Champions Leagues during his 24 years at United.

He became United’s caretaker manager for the final four games of the 2013-14 season and then spent two seasons as Louis van Gaal’s assistant at Old Trafford.

The 48-year-old then began his own managerial career with the Welsh national team in 2018 but was suspended from the role after being arrested on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend.

Pogba left United to join Juventus on a free transfer in the summer of 2012 and history looks likely to repeat itself in 2022.

CM: Park Ji-sung

Park fell down the pecking order at United in 2011-12 and joined Queens Park Rangers in search of regular first-team football. 

He couldn’t prevent their relegation to the Championship and spent 2013-14 on loan at former club PSV but persistent knee problems forced him to retire at the age of 33.

After retiring, the 41-year-old studied management, law and humanities of sport at De Montfort University in Leicester – and he even turned out for their football team.

He’s since worked as the Korea Football Association’s youth strategy department chief and an advisor for K League 1 club Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

Park then returned to QPR in December 2021 and is currently coaching their Under-16s as he completes his UEFA B license. 

READ: A tribute to Park Ji-sung, the battery in Man Utd’s winning machine

LW: Mame Biram Diouf (Danny Welbeck, 70)

Diouf only appeared in the League Cup in the first half of 2011-12 and was sold to Bundesliga side Hannover 96 in January 2012.

The striker returned to England with Stoke City in 2014 and spent six years with the Potters before joining Hatayspor in 2020. He scored 31 goals for the Turkish Super Lig side – and even went in goal for them – but is now set to leave on a free transfer. 

Welbeck left United for Arsenal in 2014 and spent five years at the Emirates, winning two FA Cups. After a brief stint at Watford, he’s now playing for Brighton.

ST: Michael Owen

Owen was released by United at the end of the 2011-12 season and spent a year at Stoke City before retiring at the age of 33 in 2013. 

Since hanging up his boots, the 42-year-old has become a racehorse owner and regularly features as a football pundit for BT Sport.

He’s also appeared on The Masked Singer and rapped Everybody Get Up while dressed as a doughnut. Yes, really.

ST: Dimitar Berbatov

After United used all three of their substitutes and Fryers went off injured with 10 minutes to go, Berbatov became Carrick’s centre-back partner.

“First of all it was not five minutes, it was like half an hour maybe!” Berbatov joked on Instagram. “Of course, I remember it but not many people remember which game it was. I was like Baresi, Maldini and Beckenbauer in one!”

Despite showcasing his skills at centre-back, he was deemed surplus to requirements following Robin van Persie’s arrival at Old Trafford in 2012.

The former Bulgaria international had spells with Fulham, Monaco, PAOK and Kerala Blasters before announcing his retirement in 2019.

He became the forward coach at Bulgarian club Etar in January 2021 and reportedly worked for free but left the role after just five months.


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