Manchester United and Manchester City Shared Icons: Players and managers to play for both the red and blue sides of the city

A look at some of the best players to play for both the red and blue sides of Manchester.

Manchester United and Manchester City Shared Icons: Players and managers to play for both the red and blue sides of the city
Above: Denis Law playing for Manchester City | Photo: Getty Images/Bob Thomas

Down the years the clash between Manchester United and Manchester City has brought around some iconic games between iconic players and managers, many who have gone on to become some the best the English or global game have seen.

The bitter rivalry between the two Manchester sides has not meant that people have crossed allegiances between the two over the years, and ahead of Sunday’s clash at Old Trafford ​there's scarcely a better opportunity to look back at those who have played for both.


Billy Meredith

The first player on the list is considered by many as the game’s first ‘superstar’ as he was the man to steer United post Newton Heath and guide the newly-founded Red Devils to their first league title in 1908.

Billy Meredith’s career began with City back in 1894 where he enjoyed an initial ten-year career, where he became the club’s joint-fifth all-time top scorer for The Citizens. Controversy surrounded his exit from Maine Road with the talk of betting scandal which led him to United in 1906.

The wondrous Welshman made an instant impact securing the league title within two years of arriving before securing the FA Cup a year later, his influence was also clear off the pitch as he was pivotal in re-establishment of the Player’s Union in aim to get better terms for players which even saw him go on strike.

Meredith would go on to play for The Red Devils before disagreement between himself and the management saw him leave in 1921, he returned to City where he would play for another three years where he would become the club’s oldest player at the grand old age of 49.


Denis Law

The next man on the list has brought a lot of joy to United fans over the years, but also brought moments of sorrow but Denis Law will be best known as one the clubs most consistent goal scorers.

Law’s career kicked on the blue side of the city as they broke the British record to bring him in from Huddersfield Town, his talents were clear scoring six goals in 48 minutes against Luton before moving to Torino after one season.

The Scotsman was brought back to England for another British record and it was United where he would build his dynasty, Law was part of the ‘holy trinity’ with George Best and Sir Bobby Charlton who would go on to help United to their first European Cup in 1968.

Law managed 237 goals in his ten seasons at United which has only been bettered by Charlton and Wayne Rooney, his poaching was rewarded back in 1964 as he became the first and only Scotsman thus far to claim the Ballon D’Or in 1964.

He would go back to City in 1973 on a free and his final professional clash was one that almost toppled his United legacy, as his backheeled goal sent United into the second division which saw him leave the field in clear despair.


Carlos Tevez

Switching of allegiances hasn’t been declined to the pages of history, as one of the most talked about figures in the modern Premier League era has made the switch.

Carlos Tevez first made his impact with West Ham United in which he saved The Hammers from relegation at Old Trafford of all places on the final day of the 2006/07 season, he impressed enough to force Ferguson to bring him in on a two-year loan deal.

The Argentine made an impact in the 24 months he was with United having secured two Premier Leagues, Champions League and League Cup along with 34 goals, but a lack of first-team opportunities saw him make the controversial switch.

His switch of alligence was highlighted in the marketing campaign by City which saw Tevez emblazed on billboards across the iconic Northern city, unsurprisingly he was booed on every return to Old Trafford but made his own legacy with City which included their first Premier League title.


Peter Schmeichel

United have been very lucky with goalkeepers over the last few years, but arguably the best came in the 1990’s in the big Danish form of Peter Schmeichel.

He arrived on English shores as a general unknown back in 1991 for £505,000, and Ferguson later and somewhat rightfully stated that the move was one of the biggest bargains of the century.

The Dane had everything He was a tremendous shot-stopper, fantastic at gathering crosses, brilliant at organising defences and could even pop up to score a goal if needed. He quickly became a fan favourite, as he was one of the major components in Ferguson’s golden generation which ended with the famous 1999 treble.

From there Schmeichel moved on to Sporting Lisbon and Aston Villa before having one more season in Manchester this time in the blue half, the magic had seemingly gone at the grand old age of 38 but did enough to make 31 appearances in his final campaign.


Mark Hughes

Swapping between the two sides hasn’t been exclusive to just players, as managers have also swapped allegiances between the two over the years.

Mark Hughes had an illustrious which began with United back in the 1980’s, the Welshman had spells with both Barcelona and Bayern Munich before he was brought back by Ferguson to lead his young fledlings.

 Hughes was crucial in helping United secure their first Premier League title, further spells followed with the likes of; Chelsea, Southampton, Everton and Blackburn Rovers before his retirement in 2002.

The veteran midfielder had experience in management having taking over the Welsh national side in the late 90’s before taking over at Ewood Park in 2004, his excellence saw him rewarded with the illustrious coaching role at the Etihad Stadium at the height of the sheikh revolution.

He was dropped after a season which many saw unjust, but bounced back with Fulham before a disastrous spell at Queens Park Rangers before moving onto Stoke City where he has remained since 2013.


Sir Matt Busby

The best has certainly been left until last with Sir Matt Busby arguably the most famous manager in United's history, but he started life on the blue side of the city way back in 1928 at the age of 18. 

Busby stayed with City until halfway through the 1935-36 season before he moved to another bitter rival in Liverpool, but after World War Two he took over at Old Trafford and he was soly responsible in United's post-war dominance on both domestic and European soil. 

The coach was behind the infamous ' Busby Babes' who would go on to define a generation, but Busby was also there during the club's darkest hour as he himself was seriously injured in the Munich Air Disaster. 

Busby recovered and rebuilt his side and if anything made them stronger, with the likes of Best, Charlton and Law coming through and it showed with five league titles throughout the 1950's and 60's which peaked with their first European title in 1968.