Traditional Squad Numbers: a Comparison with the Present

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  • Topic: Manchester United F.C., Premier League, Alex Ferguson
  • Pages : 7 (2931 words )
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  • Published : June 13, 2011
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Squad numbers at the back of player’s backs were first used on August 25, 1928, in a match between Wednesday (now Sheffield Wednesday) and Arsenal. From then on, until as late as 1993, squad numbers were assigned according to the position on the field that the player played on a match day and were usually ranging from 1-11 for the starting line-up and from 12-16 for the substitutes. The following was the traditional method of squad numbers:-

2. Right full back (right side center back)
3. Left full back (left side center back)
4. Right half back (right side defensive midfield)
5. Centre half back (centre defensive midfield)
6. Left half back (left side defensive midfield)
7. Outside right (right winger)
8. Inside right (attacking midfield)
9. Centre forward
10. Inside left (attacking midfield)
11. Outside left (left winger)

When substitutes were introduced to the game in 1965, the first substitute wore the number 12 before going on to the field, the second number 13 or 14 and so forth. Substitutes were no compelled to wear the number 13 if they were superstitious. The late great George Best had played wearing various numbers. He wore the numbers 8 and 10 often whilst playing just behind the strikers as an attacking midfielder. In his debut season and the last couple of seasons at United, he wore the number 11 shirt usually playing as a left winger. He even wore the number 9 jersey once for United, with Bobby Charlton injured, on 22 March 1969 at Old Trafford, scoring the only goal in a 1–0 win over Sheffield Wednesday. Though his most famous squad number known till date is the number 7 which he wore during the 1966-68 period, playing as the right winger. This was the time United won the famous first European Cup under Sir Matt Busby in 1968 at Wembley. This squad number has passed on to many of the most talented and prosperous players who played at Manchester United, such as Steve Coppell in the 1970s, who anchored United through the relegation and promotion; Bryan Robson, who donned it from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, as the captain of the team and one of the most dedicated footballers Old Trafford has ever seen; Eric Cantona through the mid-1990s, again, as the captain for a while and mainly as the key striker who defined United’s dominance in the Premier League at the time; David Beckham, a true successor to the magical number, he sailed United through the famous Treble in 1999 and the first ever hat-trick of Premier League titles from 1998-99 through 2000-01; Cristiano Ronaldo was handed the legendary squad number by Sir Alex Ferguson, even after he requested for his squad number from Sporting CP, 28. He did not want the pressure of living up to the expectations linked with the number earlier donned by the greatest and the finest. ”After I joined, the manager asked me what number I’d like. I said 28. But Ferguson said ‘No, you’re going to have No. 7,’ and the famous shirt was an extra source of motivation. I was forced to live up to such an honour”, he stated; and more recently, Michael Owen. Considering his illustrious career, the manager handed him the empty squad number vacated by the departure of Ronaldo to Real Madrid. Many say that he hasn’t lived up to it, but the fact remains that he is capable, he has done it before and is likely to prove it this season, as we all know, he has signed a contract extension.

So let us compare the recent players who have worn or are still wearing the traditional squad numbers, whether or not, they live up to its position or not.
#1- Edwin Van der Sar- The most recent to have worn the first choice goalkeeper shirt for United, now for the past 6 years. He has lived up to every expectation attached with this squad number and hails near the top of the list of the greatest ever to have worn this shirt. He’s accompanied up there by Peter Schmeichel, Alex Stepney and Harry Gregg. Gregg is also one who is known as the “Hero of Munich” as he pulled...
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