Successful sides usually require a leader – or more than one – that approaches every game with a fierce intensity. Whether it be tough tackling, willingness to play through the pain, or refusal to let an opponent get the better of them, their no-nonsense approach often leads them to being adored by fans.
Given Uniteds enviable trophy haul through the years, the Reds have often had at least one player that was feared by everyone on the opposing team. Heres a look at the 10 hardest players in United&aposs history:
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Likely the first name that springs to mind for many United supporters – and every other club – when thinking about the most fierce footballers. Keane was the dictionary definition of a captain, making sure all of his teammates lived up to his own high standards.
That tackle on Alf Inge Haaland, being sent home from the 2002 World Cup, and 10 red cards are all examples of when Keane overstepped the mark. However, his desire to win helped lead United to seven league titles, with his tough tackling often leading his skill with the ball to be overlooked. Keanes career will forever be remembered for his battles with Patrick Vieira, as well as his tempestuous relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson.
When Keane departed Old Trafford, it did not take too long before Nemanja Vidic filled the hardman void. He was an imperious centre-back, who was willing to put his body, and often face, on the line in order to secure victory.
The Serbian international once said, You can fix your nose. But if you let somebody score the goal, your pride cannot be fixed.
One of the best of his generation, his partnership with Rio Ferdinand and hunger for clean sheets helped lead United to five Premier League titles and Champions League glory.
Before Vidic there was Jaap Stam. The Dutchman was a colossus at the back, with strikers often struggling to find a way around his intimidating frame.
He proved to be the missing link for United as Fergusons side recorded their historic treble in 1999. His three seasons at Old Trafford brought three league titles and he was allowed to leave well before his time should have been up.
His confidence and flair could sometimes mask Cantonas undeniable hardman credentials. The enigmatic Frenchman, with his collar up, arguably became the first icon of the Premier League and helped set the tone for the dominance that was to come for United. But his short fuse was always close to the surface.
You dont earn the nickname Captain Marvel and not end up on a list like this. A midfielder capable of doing it all, time and again the United skipper would drive his way through opposition, often tackling them on his route towards goal.
His leadership and desire to get forward, scoring 99 goals for the Reds, helped create the gold standard for the all-round midfielder and set the bar for the likes of Keane..
The first image that comes to mind when thinking of Peter Schmeichel may well be him barking orders at his defence. The Great Dane was a man mountain between the posts and constantly ensured those in front of him followed his every word. His leadership was a huge part of Uniteds success, not to mention his unmatched ability as a shot-stopper.
May not have been the first name on the teamsheet, but he consistently delivered when called upon. A worthy deputy in Keanes absence, the no-nonsense midfielder helped drag United over the line in the Champions League final, with a superb performance against Bayern Munich. There may be more than a few ex-pros that wince when they think back to their battles with the class of 92 graduate.
Arguably, the original football hardman. The World Cup winner is still considered one of the games finest and was a warrior for United, winning league titles, an FA Cup and European Cup during more than a decade at Old Trafford and left a lasting legacy. Famously missing several teeth, he struck fear into many opponents even before kick-off.
The goal-scoring centre-back was constantly in the wars. Bruce would do anything to win in a United shirt and often left the pitch with evidence to prove it. Bandages were a familiar sight as he continually put himself in the line of fire, becoming bloodied and bruised in the quest for glory. Captained United to their early success in the Premier League era.