Skip to main content

7 players who played for both Manchester United and Manchester City

Manchester United
(Image credit: Getty)

The growing possibility of Cristiano Ronaldo joining Manchester City has been met with a mixed response by fans of his former employers a few miles away.

Ronaldo played more than 250 times for Manchester United, top-scoring in the Premier League in the 2007-08 season and helping the Red Devils secure Champions League glory before joining Real Madrid in 2009. Indeed, no United player has managed to match his 42 goals in all competitions in one single season since.

Some are at peace with the reported move, accepting the Portugal star was never likely to return to Old Trafford, but others have taken the news less well, and will likely continue to do so if Ronaldo helps City to another league title this term.

The veteran is far from the first player to spend time on both sides of Manchester, though, and the reception afforded to some of the others has been a real mix...

1. Carlos Tevez

Yes, some of us might remember the massive billboard first and foremost, but Tevez’s impact on the pitch hurt even more for United fans. 

While it was Sergio Aguero who scored the decisive goal at the end of the 2011-12 season, Tevez’s return from the golf course ensured Roberto Mancini’s City were even in contention, with a hat-trick at Norwich a particular highlight. The Argentine’s United goals were great at the time, and some were spectacular, but the sight of him celebrating that league win will have stung.

2. Owen Hargreaves

Owen Hargreaves

(Image credit: PA)

A team-mate of Tevez at Old Trafford, and a fellow scorer in the 2007-08 Champions League final shootout, Hargreaves’ time at the Etihad Stadium was a little less eventful. 

The England midfielder had struggled with injuries long before making the move on a free in 2011, and indeed he had been without a club for a number of weeks between leaving United and joining City. In the end, despite a debut goal, he played his fourth and final game for City - and his last for anyone - just a few months after joining.

3. Denis Law

Law played many more games for United than for City, but one moment of his in the shirt of the latter lives long in the memory. The two clubs met on the final day of the league season in 1973-74 - imagine that fixture on the last day now! - with United’s top-flight future hanging in the balance, and the Scotland striker provided an early example of the muted celebration after netting the winner. 

With more than 200 United goals, though, Law will be remembered as one of the club’s great strikers regardless of his efforts across the city.

4. Peter Schmeichel

Peter Schmeichel

(Image credit: PA)

While others moved directly between the Manchester clubs, Schmeichel’s route was more circuitous. His time at City came via Sporting and Aston Villa, three years after leaving Old Trafford as a treble winner, and lasted just one season as Kevin Keegan’s Cityzens finished 32 points behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s champions in 2003. 

There’s a coda to this story, though: Peter’s son Kasper joined City’s academy around the same time and ended up playing for their first team when, in another timeline, he might have been a United player.

5. Terry Cooke

Peter Schmeichel’s United glory years came with the help of members of the group of youngsters popularly known as ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’, but one of that number would ultimately spend more time in the blue half of Manchester. 

Cooke picked up an assist on his debut for United, but left after seeing his opportunities limited by the simple fact he was a winger at a time when the club had David Beckham and Ryan Giggs on the flanks. 20 league games for City followed, before a nomadic late career including spells in the US and Azerbaijan.

6. Andy Cole

Andy Cole, Man Utd

(Image credit: PA)

One of Cooke’s Premier League appearances came as a replacement for Cole in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea, a few months before the latter became a league champion for the first time. The England international striker’s United spell will be best remembered for that treble season, when his winner against Tottenham clinched the league title, and his short-but-fruitful City stint came after a couple of spells elsewhere in England. 

Nine goals made him the club’s top league scorer, as they spent much of the campaign in the bottom half, but he’d soon be on the move again.

7. Brian Kidd

Proof that you can represent both Manchester clubs and still be held in high esteem by both sets of fans, Kidd has achieved the feat both as a player and a manager. He scored freely for the two clubs across the 60s and 70s, before spending several years as Ferguson’s number two as United dominated the early years of the Premier League. The last decade has been about City again, though, with a comparable role under a succession of managers to help Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Pep Guardiola all reach the top in England.

Subscribe to FourFourTwo today! Guarantee the finest football stories and interviews dropping on your doorstep first every month.

NOW READ

BACK TO THE 90s How the Champions League copied the World Cup – before rivalling it as the most prestigious tournament in football

LIST From non-league player to Premier League star – the 10 greatest fairytale stories

FREE FLOPS 12 terrible free transfers that didn't live up to their billing