Great United debuts

Posted by Mark Payne

After the terrific home debuts of Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie on Saturday, Mark Payne takes a look at memorable debuts from past United players.

Denis Law

Robin van Persie’s 10th minute opener was impressive, but the Lawman took only seven minutes to score on his debut against West Brom in 1962. United only managed to draw 2-2 that day, but the club was still rebuilding after Munich.

More than Bobby Charlton and George Best, Denis’s swaggering style and trademark one-armed goal celebration made him the fan favourite in the 1960s. All hail the first real king of Old Trafford.

Mark Hughes

Breaking into the United first team as a striker in 1983 looked a thankless task. Big Norman Whiteside and Frank Stapleton filled the forward berths. Whiteside was United’s best youngster since George Best and Stapleton a professional striker at his peak.

After three years in the club’s youth ranks, Hughes finally made his debut in a league cup game at Oxford’s brutal Manor Ground. He scored the first of his United goals in a 1-1 draw and remains one of the best big-game players the club have ever had. Although Sir Alex and Hughes don’t have the best of relationship now, the foundation of Fergie’s early years was built on the back of Hughesie’s goals.

Roy Keane

Roy Keane arrived on the back of a British record transfer fee and without everybody convinced he was actually needed. United had won the league title the previous season for the first time in 26 years and were driven by a midfield of Bryan Robson and Paul Ince. A bit like van Persie, no one was really sure where he would fit in.

On his home debut, Keane scored twice in a 3-0 defeat of Sheffield Wednesday and emphatically announced his entrance. Three months later, he was scoring the winner in a thrilling Manchester Derby. Ince was gone within 22 months and Robson retired. Keano ruled Old Trafford for the next decade.

Wayne Rooney

It has not been a terrific week for Wayne Rooney, but few players have had more spectacular debuts. His inauguration as a United player was also his bow in the Champions League, versus Fenerbache at Old Trafford. He announced himself with a sumptuous hat-trick.

He may be under genuine pressure now with the arrival of Kagawa and van Persie, but the England man has carried us at times over the past couple of seasons. His contribution to our play is immense.

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