Who Is The Best Manchester United Goalkeeper?

Published by Chris Jenkins
31st Aug 2023

Manchester United is one of the most decorated clubs in England and has one of the largest fanbases in the world, so there are plenty of excellent goalkeepers who have played for the club throughout the years.

Throughout this post, we are going to be discussing some of the greatest goalkeepers to ever play for the Red Devils as well as some of the most iconic moments in their careers.


Gary Bailey

Gary Bailey is a name well respected across the Manchester United fanbase as he has etched his name in the folklore of the club for many years to come as one of the greatest goalkeepers to play for the red side of Manchester.

Throughout his 9-year stint at the Red Devils, Bailey made 294 appearances under three separate managers, Dave Sexton, Ron Atkinson and the great Sir Alex Furguson.

Bailey made his senior team debut on the 18th of November 1978 against Ipswich Town after the retirement of Alex Stepney. Following this would be many years of greatness throughout the late 70s and 80s picking up several awards along the way.

Throughout his time at Manchester United, Gary Bailey helped the team lift the FA Cup twice and the Charity Shield once, just before one of the most successful periods in the club’s history.


Peter Schmeichel

Shortly after the departure of Gary Bailey from the Manchester United dressing room, the great dane began to make his name in Europe, attracting the attention of Sir Alex Furguson and the United board.

After signing for the Red Devils in July 1991, Peter Schmeichel enjoyed a long spell as the first choice between the sticks for Manchester United ending in 1999 after becoming the record holder for most clean sheets for the club until he was surpassed by David De Gea in 2023.

Having had 180 clean sheets in 380 appearances in all competitions, Peter Schmeichel is commonly regarded as the greatest goalkeeper the Premier League has ever seen.

Throughout his Manchester United career, Peter Schmeichel helped his team to five Premier League titles, one Champions League title, three FA Cup titles and one league cup among many others.

Schmeichel also guided Denmark to success in the 1992 European Championships which is a feat that has never been repeated for the country since.


Fabien Barthez

After the departure of Peter Schmeichel in 1999, Manchester United were left searching for his replacement, in the midst of this search was France’s great runs in World Cup 1998 and Euro 2000 in which Fabien Barthez played a pivotal role in between the sticks.

In the summer of 2000, Barthez joined the Manchester side for a fee of around £7.8 million and became a well-renowned name for the Man Utd faithful.

Barthez was typically known for his rather erratic and eccentric behaviours however still enjoyed excellent success in the three years he spent at the club. They managed to win the Premier League in his first and third seasons before he left in 2003 to rejoin Marseille on loan.

These would be the only two trophies he won with the Manchester giants after 139 games in all competitions for the club.


Edwin Van Der Sar

After the departure of Fabien Barthez, Tim Howard was brought in to take the first-choice spot from him, however, this did not last as long as expected as mediocre performances and a lack of success for Tim Howard led to Manchester United signing the gen that was Edwin Van Der Sar.

Sir Alex Furguson himself has proclaimed that he is the best keeper the club had seen since Peter Schmeichel himself 6 years prior to Van Der Sar’s arrival. With so many iconic moments in a United shirt, Van Der Sar simply had to make this list.

In 2007, after several years without a title for the red side of Manchester, Edwin Van Der Sar saved a penalty in a clash against bitter rivals Manchester City in what would turn out to be the win that clinched them the title that season.

This would be the first of four Premier League titles for Van Der Sar and set in motion another period of dominance for the Red Devils. Manchester United went on to win the next two Premier League titles making it the second time the club had won three Premier Leagues in a row.

By the time he retired in 2011, he had racked up a whopping 4 Premier League titles, 2 League Cups, 3 Community Shields, 1 UEFA Champions League title and 1 Club World Cup to finish an astonishing career.


David De Gea

After the retirement of another club legend goalkeeper, many of the same questions began to arise as at the end of Peter Schmeichel’s Manchester United career, can they find the right replacement?

Incredibly, the Red Devils seemed to jump straight from one club legend to another in David De Gea. Signed from Atletico Madrid in 2011, De Gea would be a gamble from Sir Alex Furguson that paid off almost immediately as he made an immediate impact on the squad.

While they did not win the league in his first season due to an incredible moment from Sergio Aguero on the final day of the season, De Gea had earned his spot as a regular starter for the club with impressive performances in the 39 games he played in all competitions.

In the 2012/13 season, which turned out to be Sir Alex’s final season in management, they managed to win the league for the 13th time, this time with De Gea in goal for the majority of the season.

Over the next ten years, Manchester United would undergo a very difficult spell following the departure of Sir Alex however De Gea remained a stalwart member of the starting 11 throughout earning multiple Player of the Year awards across his tenure.

Before leaving in 2023, the club managed to accumulate one Premier League title, one FA Cup, two League Cups, three Community Shields and one Europa League title while De Gea was in the side.

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