New Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick is set to take charge for the first time against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Sunday, just over a decade on from the German’s last outing at the Theatre of Dreams as manager of Schalke.
The Bundesliga side had stunned Europe to reach the last four of the Champions League in the 2010/11 season, as a side containing the likes of Manuel Neuer and Real Madrid legend Raul notably overcame holders Inter Milan in the quarter-final’s to set up a meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
That clash with the Premier League giants proved a step too far, however, as United secured a comfortable first-leg 2-0 win in Germany, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney netting in quick succession late on after the visitors had been repeatedly thwarted by a relentless Neuer.
With that two-goal cushion in hand, an Anderson brace then inspired them to a convincing 4-1 victory in the reverse fixture to secure their place in a third European showpiece in the space of just four seasons and set up a Wembley showdown with their 2009 victors, Barcelona.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Red Devils’ starting XI that overcame Rangnick’s men on that night in May 2011.
Goalkeeper: Edwin Van der Sar
The veteran Dutchmen could do little to keep out the visitors’ only goal of the tie, a stunning Jose Manuel Jurado consolation, with it an otherwise routine outing for the former Ajax man.
Van der Sar – who had joined from Fulham in 2005 – would finally solve the lingering problems in the goalkeeping department at Old Trafford, going on to win four Premier League titles and the Champions League during his six-year stay in Manchester.
His final outing in a United shirt would come in the showpiece defeat to Pep Guardiola’s side, before he called time on his illustrious and trophy-laden career. He has since been touted for a return to the club in a boardroom role, after impressing as CEO at Dutch giants Ajax.
With Gary Neville having announced his retirement a few months previously, Rafael had emerged as largely the first-choice at right-back, the young Brazilian having been eased into life at United after joining the club in 2008, alongside his twin brother Fabio.
After missing the 2011 showpiece through injury, he would go on to enjoy his best and most prominent campaign during the 2012/13 season as the club won the title in Ferguson’s final year in charge, the often erratic full-back memorably netting a stunning volley against Queens Park Rangers in the latter stages of that season.
The exit of the legendary Scotsman, however, coincided with a loss of form for Rafael as he slowly slid down the pecking order, before eventually departing for Lyon in 2015. The 31-year-old currently plays for Brazilian side Botafogo.
Centre-back: Jonny Evans
A player that many believed was wrongly moved on by the club, Jonny Evans had looked set to be a long-term fixture of the United backline, having risen through the youth ranks before emerging as a potential successor to the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
After stints out on-loan in Belgium and at Sunderland, the Northern Irishman first broke into the United first-team in 2008, gradually becoming an increasingly important figure under Ferguson in the years that followed.
Like the man above, however, the arrival of Louis Van Gaal spelled the end for his time at Old Trafford, although the 33-year-old has since earned rave reviews for his performances at both West Bromwich Albion and with current side Leicester City.
Centre-back: Chris Smalling
With Ferdinand and Vidic both rested, Chris Smalling was one of the eight changes from the side that had lost to Arsenal just a few days earlier, with the young Englishman having only joined the club from Fulham at the start of the season.
He would go on to spend ten years at Theatre of Dreams, although struggled to ever really convince during a turbulent period post-Ferguson, enjoying arguably his best spell under Louis Van Gaal before departing for Roma, initially on-loan, in 2019.
Left-back: John O’Shea
The captain on the day was long-serving Irishman John O’Shea, the ever-reliable and remarkably versatile defender slotting in at left-back with usual starter Patrice Evra on the bench.
The victory would prove to be one of his final outings in a United shirt as he was moved on to Sunderland at the end of the season, leaving the club having made 393 appearances in all competitions in a trophy-laden 12-year spell.
The 40-year-old in 2019 after a solitary season with Reading, where he is now first-team coach.
Midfield man Anderson added the gloss to proceedings late on to send the hosts through to the final in comfortable fashion, the Brazilian making it 3-1 with a clever finish on the turn, before slotting into an empty net just minutes later following an excellent pull back from Dimitar Berbatov.
Something of a cult figure among United supporters, the former Porto man was often trusted on the big stage by Ferguson, memorably netting in the shootout in the 2008 showpiece victory over Chelsea, having only entered the fray in the final minute of extra-time.
The arrival of David Moyes – as well as injury – sparked the end for his time at Old Trafford, with the 33-year-old now retired after largely unsuccessful stints in Brazil and Turkey.
Midfield: Darron Gibson
The win over Schalke proved a notable high point in an otherwise forgettable Red Devils career for Darron Gibson, the young midfielder teeing up Antonio Valencia with a delightful threaded pass, before getting on the scoresheet himself after lashing an effort through the hands of Neuer – who should well have done better.
With a wealth of midfield talent ahead of him, he was moved on to Everton in January 2012, although spent much of his time at Goodison on the treatment table. The 34-year-old is currently without a club after recent stints at the likes of Sunderland, Wigan and Salford City.
Midfield: Paul Scholes
One of the few senior members in a largely youthful lineup, Paul Scholes helped secure a place in the fourth Champions League final of his United career with victory over Rangnick’s side, albeit with the Englishman having missed that victory in 1999 at the Nou Camp through suspension.
He would make what appeared to be his final United appearance as a substitute in the showpiece defeat to Barcelona at the end of the season, although came out of retirement midway through the following season amid a midfield injury crisis, before finally calling it quits after winning his 11th league title in the 2012/13 season.
The 2010/11 season proved a real breakthrough campaign for the Portuguese winger, as he netted nine Premier League goals as United romped to the title, that form earning him a place in the PFA Team of the Year.
In truth, however, despite his undoubted talent, he failed to really build on that early promise and slipped down the pecking order in Ferguson’s final season in charge, having originally joined the club from Sporting CP in 2008.
Right-wing: Antonio Valencia
Antonio Valencia set United on their way to the final with an early goal in the clash at Old Trafford, latching onto Gibson’s through ball and calmly guiding his effort past the onrushing Neuer, setting the tone for what would be a man of the match display for the Ecuadorean.
While never a prolific presence in front of goal – his best goalscoring campaign saw him score just seven in all competitions in the 2009/10 season – the former Wigan man proved a hugely reliable presence at the club for almost a decade, with his searing pace proving invaluable down the right-flank.
In the latter years of his time at the club he converted into an effective performer at right-back and was named club captain following Michael Carrick’s departure in 2018. After leaving the club a year later, he retired in 2021.
Forward: Dimitar Berbatov
With Wayne Rooney left out of the squad altogether, Ferguson opted to deploy Dimitar Berbatov in a lone centre-forward role, with the move paying off as the Bulgarian impressively lead the line and notably teed up Anderson to make it 4-1 late on.
Much to his surprise, however, the striker – who had joined from Spurs on deadline day in 2008 – would miss out on selection for the matchday squad in the final, with that omission all the more perplexing considering he had finished as the Premier League Golden Boot winner with 20 league goals that season.
The classy and gifted forward would go on to score seven league goals in just 12 appearances the following season before eventually departing for Fulham in 2012, eventually ending his career in 2018 after stints in France, Greece and India.
The Frenchman entered the fray as a 60th minute replacement for Rafael and would go on to start in the final as United lost 3-1 at Wembley, having also started at left-back in both 2008 and 2009.
The full-back had initially endured a shaky start to life in England after joining from Monaco in January 2006, getting hooked at half-time on debut in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City, yet went on to be the undisputed first-choice in his position over the next eight years.
The former Scotland international replaced Paul Scholes late on with the veteran midfielder on a yellow card, the margin of United’s lead allowing Ferguson to re-introduce Fletcher after a recent bout of illness.
The true extent of that illness wouldn’t become public knowledge until midway through the following season, with the youth product forced to take a break from the game due to ulcerative colitis, with that effectively keeping him out of action for the remainder of Ferguson’s time in charge.
He would eventually move on to West Brom in January 2015 and become an everpresent for the club over the next few seasons, before retiring in 2019 after a brief spell at Stoke City. The 37-year-old is currently back at United as technical director.
A late replacement for Berbatov, Michael Owen would be named ahead of the Bulgarian in the matchday for the Champions League final, although remained an unused substitute as the Red Devils were simply outplayed by the La Liga giants.
While he would spend three years at Old Trafford, the Englishman is largely remembered at the club for his stoppage-time winner in the Manchester Derby, the strike showcasing his natural goalscoring instincts that remained even as his body began to wane.
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The post Remembering the Man United XI that beat Rangnick’s Schalke 4-1 in the UCL semi-final first appeared on The Football Faithful.
Author: Robbie Walls