Manchester United announced their squad numbers today and Dutch forward, Memphis Depay was handed the number 7 jersey further increasing the comparisons between the 21 year old and a certain Cristiano Ronaldo who was the last player to really make a real impact as the number 7 in Manchester United.
From George Best in the 60s to Bryan Robson in the 80s to Cantona in the 90s and David Beckham until 2003, Manchester United number 7s were known as iconic players.
When Ronaldo was handed the number 7 jersey, it was plain to see that he would follow in the footsteps of the players before him. Between 2004 and 2005, Ronaldo struggled to live up to the hype but between 2006 and 2009,
Ronaldo finally arrived on the scene, winning the Ballon D’Or and champions league, scoring for fun and mesmerizing defenders.
When Ronaldo left Manchester United for Real Madrid for a then world record fee of 100 million Euros, Manchester United handed the 7 jersey to Owen. Few expected Owen to really set Old Trafford alight owing to his injury problems and apparent lack of playing time. Alas, the only time Owen was a hero was his last-gasp winner against Manchester City in the 2010-2011 season. Following Owen’s departure, Manchester United handed the number 7 jersey to Antonio Valencia. From the onset Valencia lacked the flair, suave and footballing skills of a typical number 7, a traditional tough tackling hard hitting wing back, Antonio Valencia was not up to the task, and he suffered his worst season in a Manchester United shirt wearing the number 7 jersey and the next season Valencia humbly dropped the jersey. Manchester United spent one season without a number 7 before Angel Di Maria arrived for a club record fee of 59.3 million pounds. Handed the number 7 jersey, a lot was expected from Di Maria, a good passer, a wonderful dribbler; creative on the ball with an eye for goal and an all-round classy Argentine winger but Di Maria endured a torrid season and was finally dropped to the bench.
Following Di Maria’s departure to PSG, Manchester United acquired another fleet footed winger with an eye for goal and an a lot of suave and confidence; Memphis Depay. At the player’s request, Manchester United have handed him the responsibility of wearing the number 7 jersey.
The lad is confident and while the expectations on the jersey may have dwindled at Old Trafford the number 7 jersey is still quite important at Manchester United and with the 7 jersey at Manchester United comes a serious responsibility.