Ranking Man Utd’s 13 Premier League left-backs from worst to best
While Manchester United had some incredible left-backs in the Sir Alex Ferguson era, it has become a problem position in recent years.
After selling Patrice Evra in 2014, the Red Devils have struggled to find an adequate replacement but look set to sign Porto’s Alex Telles this summer.
Here, we rank all 13 left-backs to make a Premier League appearance for the club. Note: we’ve ignored the likes of Phil Neville, Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo who made some appearances at left-back but were primarily used in other positions.
13. Demetri Mitchell
Mitchell came through the United academy but only made one first-team appearance, playing all 90 minutes of a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace in the final match of the 2016-17 season, and was released in 2020.
12. Richard Eckersley
After impressing in the reserves, Eckersley made two Premier League appearances for United in 2008-09 before joining Burnley on a permanent deal.
11. Zeki Fryers
Fryers made two substitute appearances in the Premier League for United but joined Standard Liege in 2012 after a contract dispute.
10. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson
One of several academy graduates under Louis van Gaal, Borthwick-Jackson made 10 Premier League appearances in 2015-16.
The left-back failed to build on a promising debut season and was released in 2020 after loan spells at Wolves, Leeds, Scunthorpe, Tranmere and Oldham.
Writing on Instagram after his departure had been confirmed, Borthwick-Jackson spoke of his pride at representing his boyhood club but added: “I’ve had many negative experiences which in turn have become lessons, especially in recent years.
“It’s revealed some truths in football most people won’t ever see (in due time).”
9. Alex Buttner
Buttner joined United from Vitesse Arnhem in 2012 and made a remarkable start to his Premier League career, scoring a brilliant solo goal on his debut against Wigan.
However, that was about as good as it got for the left-back, who went on to make another 12 Premier League appearances before joining Russian side Dynamo Moscow in 2014.
“My adventure with Manchester United was not a failure,” Buttner told Algemeen Dagblad in 2017.
“Who can say that they have won the Premier League title? I can say that. Even Steven Gerrard hasn’t managed it. I played more games for United than I ever dreamed of.”
8. Brandon Williams
Williams was handed his first-team debut by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in September 2019 and made 17 Premier League appearances in his breakthrough season.
But more importantly, he’s also a wonderful sh*thouse.
7. Clayton Blackmore
Blackmore’s final few years at Old Trafford were blighted by injury problems and the defender made 14 appearances in the inaugural Premier League appearances season before joining Middlesbrough in 1994.
Fabio joined United from Fluminense in 2008 alongside twin brother Rafael but the pair had contrasting fortunes at Old Trafford.
Despite being regarded as the brighter prospect, Fabio was unable to establish himself as a first-team regular and joined Cardiff City in 2014.
5. Ashley Young
When Young arrived at United from Aston Villa in 2011 he was regarded as a quick and exciting winger, capable of scoring sensational goals.
The England international eventually reinvented himself as a full-back under Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, becoming a consistent and reliable performer in his new role.
He was even appointed club captain in 2019 before joining Serie A side Inter Milan in January 2020.
4. Luke Shaw
Having been named in the 2013–14 PFA Team of the Year, expectations were high when Shaw completed a £27million move to United.
The left-back enjoyed a promising start to his Old Trafford career before suffering a double leg break against PSV Eindhoven in 2015.
He bounced back and was named the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year in 2018-19 but looks set to face increased competition from Alex Telles.
3. Gabriel Heinze
Heinze joined United from PSG in 2004 and enjoyed a promising debut season, winning the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award.
He eventually fell behind Patrice Evra in the pecking order at Old Trafford, however, and famously demanded a transfer to rivals Liverpool in 2007.
The Argentina international did eventually get a move that summer, signing for Spanish giants Real Madrid instead.
2. Patrice Evra
After joining United from Monaco in January 2006, Evra endured a difficult start to life in English football and was substituted at half-time on his debut against Manchester City.
“My first introduction to the real Sir Alex was my debut against Manchester City,” Evra told The Guardian in August 2020.
“At half-time he gave the hairdryer for one minute to every player. It was a long 15 minutes. At the end he say to me in five seconds, ‘Patrice, sit down. You will learn how to play in England.’
“That night my agent said, ‘We made the biggest mistake coming here. I’m sorry.’ I was upset but I was burning.”
But the France international quickly found his feet with the Red Devils to become one of the best left-backs in the world, winning five Premier League titles and the Champions League at Old Trafford.
1. Denis Irwin
Comfortable in both full-back positions, Irwin established himself as a model of consistency during his 12 years at United, making 529 appearances for the club in all competitions.
The Republic of Ireland international was a key part of the squad that won seven Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a Champions League title.