How Gary Pallister Formed One Of Manchester United's Greatest Ever Defensive Partnerships

Pallister signed for Manchester United for £2.3m in August 1989
07:01, 29 Aug 2019

An elegant defender despite his towering frame, Gary Pallister formed one half of arguably the greatest central defensive partnerships in Manchester United's history; a pairing which was responsible for bringing the glory days back to Old Trafford.

Born in Ramsgate, Kent, in 1965, Pallister grew up in Norton, County Durham, and began his footballing career with Billingham Town before moving to Middlesbrough in 1984; eventually signing for Manchester United on August 29 1989, for £2.3 million; a then record fee for a British defender.

His career at Old Trafford couldn't have gotten off to a worse start however as his home debut against Norwich City 24 hours later turned into something of a horror show with Pallister giving away a penalty while also selling his goalkeeper short with a suicidal back-pass in a 2-0 defeat.

After a somewhat brutal introduction, his first goal for The Reds came just 12 games into his United career against Nottingham Forest, on November 12 1989; an encounter which was broadcast live to the Nation courtesy of ITV's The Match as he stabbed the ball past Mark Crossley from close range to secure a vital 1-0 win for a side who were struggling in the league at the time.

United finished 13th in the league in Pallister's first season at the club but would then embark on a remarkable run in which the Reds finished outside the top two just once over the next eight seasons as the club welcomed back the good times after something of a fallow period over the next quarter of a century or so.

Alongside fellow centre-half Steve Bruce, who had joined United two years before, Pallister quickly earned a reputation as one of the most talented defenders in the country with plenty of pace, composure and aerial ability with the pair soon being dubbed, “Dolly and Daisy,” by manager Alex Ferguson.

Excellent in the air and quick on the ground Pallister was the perfect foil for the more physical Bruce due to his calmness on the ball and an ability to bring the ball out from the back and turn defence into attack within the blink of an eye.

Their formidable presence was the cornerstone of a side which yielded four Premier League titles, two runners-up spots, the 1991 European Cup Winners' Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, the League Cup and three FA Cups.

An almost ever-present in this unprecedented period of glory for the Old Trafford outfit, Pallister missed just one league game between 1992 and 1995 while being awarded the PFA Player of the Year award in 1992 and was probably unfortunate to only be awarded 22 England caps.

Pallister scored 15 goals for United but will always be remembered for a brace of headers at Anfield in April 1997 which all but clinched another Premier League title for Ferguson's men,.

Another of his rare strikes came in the final game of United's 1992/93 title winning season as he fired home a free-kick from the edge of the box against Blackburn to ensure every outfield player found the net that campaign.

Having spent nine-years with United and making 437 appearances, not to mention ten major trophies, Pallister's career would go full-circle as he left Old Trafford to re-join Middlesbrough for £2.5 million in the summer of 1998.

An often unsung member of a United team which was responsible for bringing the league title back to Old Trafford for the first time in 26-years, Gary Pallister played a huge part in the side's success of the 1990s and left the club as one of the most decorated players in the Manchester United's history.

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