In the Premier League years, Chris Casper wore the number 26 shirt from 1992-1998, when he was sold to Reading, after making just two league appearances for the club. After Casper retired, he moved in to coaching, and went to Bury to work with their youth team. He then became the Reserves’ manager, before being given the first team manager’s job. He was sacked after two and a half years in post, so moved to Bradford to coach their youth. He then had a spell at Grimsby Town’s assistant manager before taking a job with the Premier League, where he works with the top-flight clubs in the north west to help them implement educational programmes and work with their academies.
Nobody wore the number 26 in the 1998-99 season, but Massimo Taibi was given the number in the 1999-00 season after he signed for £4.5m after Peter Schmeichel retired, with Mark Bosnich and Raimond van der Gouw both injured. He made his debut against Liverpool, in the game that saw Jamie Carragher score two own goals, and Taibi was named Man of the Match. It was all downhill for him from there though, making several mistakes, particularly that one against Matt Le Tissier, and he was sold at the end of the season. He went on to play for Reggina, Atalanta, Torino and Ascoli, before retiring six years ago.
Mark Wilson was given the number 26 shirt the following season, having previously worn number 33. He made 7 appearances for United that year, including three in the Champions League and one in the FIFA Club World Cup. He was sold to Middlesbrough the following season for £1.5m. He went on to play for another 11 clubs before retiring, including Stoke City, Sheffield Wednesday and FC Dallas.
Nobody wore the shirt in 2001-02, but then Danny Pugh wore it for the next two season. He made five appearances in the first season and two in the second. He was then transferred to Leeds as part of the deal that brought Alan Smith to us. He was still playing last season but his season ended in October for League One side Coventry thanks to injury.
Phil Bardsley wore the shirt between 2004-06, playing 18 games for the club in all competitions. After several spells on loan, he was bought by Sunderland in 2007 and spent seven years there. Bardsley signed for Stoke last season.
The shirt was unoccupied for two seasons, until Manucho wore it in 2008-09. He had a trial at the club before being signed in January 2008. He was almost immediately sent out on loan. He made just one appearance in the league before being sold to Real Valladolid in the summer of 2009, before joining Rayo Vallecano last year.
Gabriel Obertan wore the shirt for the next two seasons after signing for United in the summer we sold Cristiano Ronaldo. He played 28 games in all competitions before being sold to Newcastle.
The shirt wasn’t worn for the next season, until Shinji Kagawa wore it for the next two seasons.