Manchester United's Unsung Heroes: The Men Who ALSO Matter

Saif Syed OmarCorrespondent IJanuary 31, 2009

When people talk about the trophies that United won last season, the first pictures that come to mind are those of Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez or Giggsy. Everybody raves about the performances of these players and how they all excelled throughout the season and led United to their second trophy in 2 years.

Well that's true, one cannot argue much about that. After all United's firepower was a key element in their retaining the trophy for a second year running. They scored more goals than any other team and had a far more superior goal difference compared to others.

A key element in the run up to the title were the so-called 'Holy Trinity'—Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez. The trio scored a whopping 55 goals amongst them out of the 80 scored by Manchester United in the League.

The superior goal difference gave them a cushion in case of a tied result as their nearest opponents were no where near United's tally. Therefore it does not surprise me when the media and the fans alike sing songs in praise of the trio. No doubt any team or any manager would love to have them in their squad.

So why are we repeating the same old story and purring about Untied's strike force and how they helped United retain their title ? And why does the title of the article say United's Unsung heroes, whilst in reality, they are the most talked about stars, both in the media and among the fans ?

Right, we are not here to discuss about our popular players. We will look at some of the so called 'Lesser' players in the team without whom the team would have been a fractured unit. To start our discussion, lets get over the term 'Holy Trinity' and talk about 'The NOT SO Famous Five'.

John O'Shea

He joined Manchester United as a trainee and made his debut for Manchester United's senior team in 1999. He is one of the most versatile players not only in Manchester United, but also in the league. He has played as a left back, right back, center back, midfielder, goalkeeper and at times as a striker.

His ability to play in different positions has made him an invaluable asset to the team. Not many teams can boast of players who have played in so many different positions. He has always been loyal to United despite interest from various clubs.

He also has a knack of scoring important goals for United, the most memorable among them is the opening goal against Everton at Goodison Park in the 2006-07 season, which Manchester Untied went on to win, the goal which turned the title in United's favor.

Darren Fletcher

Like John O'shea, he too joined Manchester United as a trainee in the year 2000. He's one of the most modest and genuine players in the team. Despite putting up Top Class performances, he finds himself left on the bench more often than not.

Even worse, he is sometimes left out of the squad after the arrival of Owen Hargreaves. But whenever called upon, he has done his job and in fact exceeded expectations. His work rate and performances, specially in the Champions League games have been praiseworthy.

Park Ji Sung

Park joined Manchester United in 2004 and has since been an important part of the team. His sheer pace, passing and relentless work rate have won him plaudits from the manager. Though not as skilled as other wingers like Ronaldo or Giggs, Park has more than made up for his shortcomings by his tremendous work rate.

So important has been his contribution to the team that even Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that the most difficult decision of his career was leaving Park out of the Champions League squad for the final in Moscow.

His performance against Barcelona was the highlight of the semi-final victory along with Paul Scholes' winning goal. Even though he is the Captain of the South Korean national team, he maintains a low profile and is ever ready to sacrifice for the team.

Wes Brown

Another Manchester United trainee who made it to the senior squad. Wes Brown signed a contract with Manchester United in the year 1996. He was one of the promising youngsters that came through United's academy.

Like Paul Scholes, Brown is a local lad, hailing from Manchester. He is an important member of the team who has added stability to United's defense. He has been proficient playing both as a center-back and more recently, as a right back in Gary Neville's absence.

He is a no-nonsense defender and provides excellent attacking support as a right-back. In fact, in the 2007-08 season, he was the player who made maximum appearances for Manchester United.

Tomasz Kuszczak

This polish keeper has been United's No.2 since August 2006. Before joining Manchester United, he was the first choice at West Bromwich Albion and made his mark there with a number of match winning performances, notably against Manchester Untied during the penultimate day of the 2004-05 season which kept the Baggies in the premier league.

Though his chances at United have been limited, he has always given it his best shot when called upon. He made an important contribution to the double winning season by keeping eight clean sheets.

He burst into the scene when he saved the penalty against Arsenal. The only downside of the season was his sending off in the FA cup semi-final against Portsmouth, which was clearly harsh.

These are a few of the players who have always been in the background and never taken the center stage of all the media attention. Although their performances mostly go unnoticed, neither their love for the game nor their hunger for success has diminished one bit. It is easy to lose focus and sharpness when one is on the bench and is deprived of first team action for long spells.

Still, these players have always performed at their very best when called into action in times of distress. Matches and trophies are not won just by having stars in the team. The idea here is not to stereotype certain kinds of players but to understand the fact that the efforts of all players need to be recognised and applauded.

Trophies are won by a team and not by a few individuals. It is high time these 'Working Class Heroes' are given the respect, appreciation and encouragement they are due. This article is not aimed at sensationalising anything and is simply dedicated to those footballers who do not make it to the back pages of the papers very often.



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