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It’s all gone blue: How and how not to cross the divide

It is hard not to play for both Manchester United and Manchester City without being controversial or bringing unwanted attention to yourself. There have been many players who have crossed the divide and they have a negative reputation with United fans. However, there are also players who joined City that United fans will still respect and appreciate very much. MUFC Latest compares two players who joined City and the legacy they have left behind after joining City.

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Denis Law

The Scottish striker formed the Holy Trinity alongside George Best and Bobby Charlton in the 1960s. He is regarded as one of Manchester United’s greatest ever strikers scoring 237 in 404 appearances. Law was awarded a Ballon d’Or in 1964 whilst playing for Manchester United. The Aberdeen born forward arrived at Old Trafford in 1962 and left in 1973.

After beginning his career north of Manchester at Huddersfield Town in 1956, Law joined Manchester City in 1960. The striker enjoyed a great season for the Maine Road club and gained international attention. The following season in 1961, the player joined Torino but he would only last one season in Italy. This is not because of bad performances but because Manchester United came calling.

After a successful long-term career at United, the player returned to City for one season in 1973. He was involved in a controversial moment in a Manchester derby, he scored a back-heel goal that was labelled responsible for relegating United. However, this was not true and Manchester United would have been relegated either way as results in other games meant United were going down regardless.

To this day Denis Law is still King of the Stretford End and a statue of him is positioned in the Stretford End. Although he spent two seasons at United’s crosstown rivals, Law is still regarded very highly by United fans. He played in an era where United fans would go to Old Trafford one week and Maine Road the next, also vice versa for City fans. Ultimately, it would be hard to have a negative thought about Denis Law as a United fan due to the successful 11-year spell he had with the club.

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Peter Schmeichel

The Danish keeper is regarded as a United legend by many fans, however, to many local and match going fans he is seen differently. Schmeichel played a massive role in United’s era-defining success in the 1990s both with his goalkeeping abilities and leadership skills. The Great Dane joined United in 1991 and left after the club’s finest hour in 1999 winning the unprecedented treble.

Schmeichel made 294 appearances for Manchester United and won five Premier Leagues, three FA Cups, a Champions League, a Super Cup, a League Cup and four Charity Shields. In 2002 the Dane joined Manchester City.

Similarly, to Denis Law, he had an illustrious career at Old Trafford and had the respect of United fans regardless. However, it was how he acted that puts him in a different bracket to Denis Law. Law had always been respectful to United and seemed grateful, he also recognised United as his main club once his career was over.

Schmeichel was involved in numerous moments that would encourage United fans to think differently. When United took on City at Maine Road, Schmeichel approached Gary Neville in the tunnel to shake his hand but Neville declined. City went on to win the game and the Danish keeper was very expressive with celebrations. Another incident leaving United fans feeling sour with Schmeichel was when he was commentating on a Manchester derby. The former United keeper was referring to City as “we”, this obviously infuriated United fans. However, in recent years Schmeichel has talked very fondly of United and looks to rebuild his relationship with the club.

The main difference between these two players that have impacted their legacy at Old Trafford is how the acted. Denis Law obviously very loyal to United and appreciated the United crowd, he didn’t even celebrate when he scored in 1974. Very different to Schmeichel who produced a cart-wheel celebration when City beat United at Maine Road. These players weren’t the first to join City and they won’t be the last. If players who join City from United in the future they should take note of Denis Law more so than Peter Schmeichel.

Written by Shane Purcell

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