The 22 players who played just one Premier League game for Man Utd

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Josh Harrop celebrates after scoring for anchester United in the Premier League. Old Trafford, May 2017.

A few Manchester United players have spent their entire careers at Old Trafford, but there are plenty who failed to leave a lasting impression.

It is an achievement just to represent their first team at all, of course, and more than most of us ever manage, but it is surprising how many have just one Premier League appearance to their name for United.

There are 22 in total, not including Alejandro Garnacho and Will Fish, who are still at the club and still have room to add to their tallies.

Josh Harrop

Harrop only made one first-team appearance for United, but it couldn’t have gone much better for him.

The winger scored on his debut against Crystal Palace in 2017 but then signed for Preston immediately afterwards, so he has an impressive one goal-per-game record at United.

Harrop has struggled with injuries over the last few years and is currently spending the second half of 2021-22 on loan at Fleetwood Town.

Demetri Mitchell

Alongside Harrop, Mitchell also made his competitive United debut in that 2-0 win over Crystal Palace in 2017 as Jose Mourinho prepared for the Europa League final.

Despite being named United’s Reserve Player of the Year for 2017-18, he never made another first-team appearance for the club and was released in 2020.

The left-back spent two and a half years at Blackpool before joining Scottish club Hibernian in January 2022.

Joel Pereira

After coming off the bench in an FA Cup tie with Wigan, Pereira made his full United debut against Palace and managed to keep a clean sheet.

“We have a third goalkeeper that I think will be the best Portuguese goalkeeper of the next generation so anyone in goal I trust completely,” Mourinho said in May 2017.

He didn’t manage to live up to those expectations and had a series of loan spells before joining Eredivisie side RKC Waalwijk on a free transfer in 2021.

Ben Amos

Amos only made one Premier League appearance for United, but in his defence, he was competing with Edwin van der Sar and David de Gea.

The 32-year-old’s debut came in a League Cup tie, and he then made his top-flight bow against Stoke in 2012, keeping a clean sheet in a 2-0 win.

He was released by United in 2015 and had spells at Bolton and Charlton before helping Wigan win League One in 2021-22.

Kieran Lee

Lee began his career at United’s academy, but the winger’s path into the first team was blocked by an emerging Cristiano Ronaldo.

Despite scoring on his debut in the League Cup, Lee only ever made one appearance in the Premier League, where he received a guard of honour from the Chelsea players after United had won the league in 2007.

The 33-year-old left for Oldham on a free transfer in 2008 and is now plying his trade at League One side Bolton Wanderers.

Philip Mulryne

Mulryne was part of the FA Youth Cup-winning team at United in 1995, but his only league appearance for the club came on the last day of the 1997-98 season.

The midfielder was sold to Norwich for £500,000 in 1999 and had spells with Cardiff, Leyton Orient and Kings Lynn before retiring in 2008.

After hanging up his boots, Mulryne began a completely different career, rediscovering his faith to eventually become ordained as a Roman Catholic priest.

Paul Rachubka

Rachubka made his United debut in the 2000 FIFA Club World Championship in Brazil but only made one appearance in England’s top flight.

The goalkeeper played for 15 different Football League clubs during his career, most notably a disastrous two-year spell at Leeds United.

He reunited with former United team-mate Wes Brown at Indian Super League side Karela Blasters in 2017 and became an accountant after retiring.

Lee Martin

Nearly four years after making his United debut in a League Cup tie, Martin eventually made his Premier League debut against Hull City on the final day of the season in 2009.

“Sir Alex Ferguson was impressed with me and brought me back into the first-team fold,” Martin told us. “I was training with the team, I was on the bench against Aston Villa. He held me in high regard, so I finally got the opportunity.

“The likes of [Kiko] Macheda and [Danny] Welbeck were just coming through at the time so it was a good chance for them, but for me it was my last chance and an added bonus for doing well after coming back. I was ultimately playing for a move.”

The midfielder was sold to Roy Keane’s Ipswich a few weeks later and is currently playing for National League South side Ebbsfleet United.

READ: The story of the Man Utd starlet who had too many loans to make an impact

Colin McKee

McKee was in United’s starting line-up for the 1992 FA Youth Cup final, along with future United legends Gary Neville, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs.

The forward didn’t quite have the same impact in the first team, however, making just one appearance before being sold to Kilmarnock in 1994.

McKee spent most of his career in Scotland before retiring in 2001, although he did have a brief loan spell with Vikingur FC in Iceland.

Dong Fangzhou

In 2004, Dong Fangzhuo became the first Chinese player to sign for United although some critics claimed that the deal was just a marketing ploy.

Dong did little to prove people wrong and made just one Premier League appearance, starting up front alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the second-string starting XI at Chelsea in 2007.

The forward later retired from football at the age of 29, with Spanish publication Marca claiming Fangzhuo underwent plastic surgery to stop people from recognising him.

He resurfaced a few years ago and is now passing on his football knowledge to China’s next generation at the Dong Fangzhuo Football Club.

Tom Lawrence

After coming through the United academy, Lawrence was given his debut by interim player-manager Ryan Giggs against Hull City in 2014.

That proved to be his first and last appearance for the club as the midfielder signed for Leicester City a few weeks later. After three years at the Foxes, Lawrence joined Derby County in 2017.

Michael Keane 

Keane was given his league debut by Louis van Gaal against Sunderland in 2014 after Chris Smalling suffered a hamstring injury in the first half.

The centre-back then started in a League Cup tie against MK Dons two days later but the 4-0 defeat signalled the end of his United career.

“After that, I was on international duty with the Under-21s. It was transfer deadline day and I got a phone call saying Burnley wanted to take me,” Keane told The Guardian.

“It was a bit harsh [from Van Gaal], judging me on one game, but I suppose when you are coming through at Man United you know if you get that chance you need to take it.”

He earned a £30million move to Everton in 2017 and has now made over 200 Premier League appearances.

Donald Love

Love made his United debut in a 2-1 defeat against Sunderland in 2016, while his Europa League debut also resulted in a loss.

The defender was brought to Sunderland by David Moyes but struggled with injuries and now plays for League Two side Salford City.

Ricardo 

United struggled to replace legendary goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, and Ricardo was another player who failed to fill that void.

The Spaniard arrived at the club in 2002 and made his league debut as a half-time substitute against Blackburn Rovers when his very first contribution was to give away and then save a penalty.

“I remember Barthez got injured so I had to come on for the second half,” Ricardo told us. “There was a long ball and Rio Ferdinand headed it, but the striker got in front of me and I fouled him.

“David Dunn took the penalty to my left and it was a good save and my most incredible moment in Manchester.”

READ: The story of Ricardo’s three years at Man Utd and how it shaped his career

David Healy

Healy made his Premier League debut as a substitute against Ipswich in 2001 but signed for Preston just a few days later.

The striker went on to have a brilliant career in the Football League and became the all-time leading scorer for Northern Ireland with 36 goals.

After retirement, Healey moved into coaching and has been the manager of Irish side Linfield for the last six and a half years.

Lee Roche

Roche played more minutes in the Champions League than the Premier League, though his one game in the latter ended in victory.

The defender replaced Laurent Blanc in the 69th minute of a 5-3 win against Newcastle in 2002 before gradually dropping down the leagues.

“It was unbelievable, coming on in front of 75,000 fans at Old Trafford,” he told us.

“I did okay, but I remember Sir Alex talking to me afterwards because Alan Shearer had beaten me at the far post to win a header, so he told me to get up first and not let the forwards do that to me.”

After retiring from full-time football, Roche now works full-time as a plumber and owns a cavity wall insulation removal business.

Lee Roche, Manchester United

READ: The Man Utd kid who went from the Champions League to the building site

Manucho 

Manucho was a complete unknown when United announced that they had bought the striker from Petro Atletico in 2007.

Complications obtaining a work permit saw him loaned out to Panathinaikos, but he finally made his Premier League debut off the bench in a 5-0 win over Stoke City.

The striker left United in 2009 and retired after leaving Spanish third-tier outfit UE Cornella in 2019.

James Weir

Weir came through the United academy and only got a couple of minutes in the Premier League, coming on as an injury-time substitute for Ander Herrera against Arsenal in 2016.

The 26-year-old joined Hull City in search of regular first-team opportunities but struggled to make an impact and was released at the end of the 2018-19 season.

After a brief spell at Bolton, he moved abroad and is now playing for Hungarian top-flight side MTK Budapest.

READ: The story of James Weir and his 60 second Manchester United career

Danny Pugh 

Pugh made his first-team debut against Maccabi Haifa in a Champions League group stage game in 2002 and then his league debut against Tottenham three days later.

The midfielder also featured against Juventus and Deportivo de La Coruna in Europe but was sold to rivals Leeds United in part exchange for Alan Smith in 2004.

Pugh had to wait six years between his first and second game in the top flight after returning to the Premier League with Stoke City in 2008.

Tom Thorpe

Thorpe was drafted into the team during an injury crisis and would make his first and only appearance for United as an injury-time substitute against West Ham in 2014.

The defender was released at the end of the 2014-15 season and found himself on the books of Rotherham United in the Championship.

He struggled with injury problems and has been without a club for nearly four years after leaving Indian Super League side ATK in 2018.

Nick Culkin

Culkin’s Premier League career amounted to just one kick after replacing an injured Raimond van der Gouw in injury time against Arsenal.

“I felt I was ready and that was my chance to grab,” Culkin told us. “But then I went on to take the free kick and the whistle blew. That was my Man United career done and dusted.”

The goalkeeper joined QPR in 2002 and later became the first player to appear for both Manchester United and FC United of Manchester.

READ: The story of Nick Culkin at Man Utd and the shortest ever Prem career

Bojan Djordjic

Djordjic arrived at Old Trafford as a promising talent in 1999, but United had just won the treble so the midfielder found game time hard to come by.

After making just one league appearance in five and a half years at the club, he moved to Rangers on a free transfer.

The 40-year-old retired in 2015 and now works as a pundit for United’s TV channel.


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