Ferguson's best United XI
Published 08/05/2013 | 17:11
After 26 years at Manchester United, boss Sir Alex Ferguson announced he was to retire from his post at the end of the season.
Here, we have a selected possibly the best United XI during Ferguson's tenure.
Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel. Boils down to a choice between Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar, with hardly anything between them. Schmeichel (five titles, one European Cup) gets the nod, but only because he came before Van der Sar (four titles, one European Cup) and broke the mould.
Right-back: Gary Neville. Paul Parker was an essential component of Ferguson's first title-winning team but Neville is the stand-out candidate. Loyal, brave - a bit of a pain sometimes. But committed and pretty good too. First-team career lasted 19 years and 602 appearances.
Centre-half: Jaap Stam and Nemanja Vidic. Ferguson has admitted to making one of his few mistakes in allowing Stam to leave in 2001. Serbian Vidic holds the rare distinction of being confirmed a United player on Christmas Day. Struggled at first but has gone on to become one of the world's best defenders.
Left-back: Patrice Evra. Few could quibble if this spot went to Denis Irwin, or even Phil Neville. Evra is slightly better though, especially in an attacking sense.
Right-wing: Cristiano Ronaldo. Now the arguments begin. David Beckham is an obvious choice here and his efforts deserve due mention. But someone who was crowned the world's best player during his time at United - and is still rated in the top two - has to have a place. Ronaldo's trickery was not to everyone's taste. Forty-two goals in a single season certainly was.
Central midfield: Roy Keane and Paul Scholes. Keane's duels with Patrick Vieira were the stuff of legend and performance in the 1999 Champions League semi-final against Juventus in Turin, when he was already booked and out of the final, will stand comparison with any. When great players such as Xavi and Edgar Davids are asked to name the man who made United tick, Scholes is the name they always come up with.
Left-wing: Ryan Giggs. Ferguson likened Giggs to "a piece of paper blowing in the wind" when he first saw him as a schoolboy. Nearly 900 appearances later, the Welshman is still going strong. Barring the first FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup triumph in 1991, Giggs has played a part in all Ferguson's successes.
Centre-forward: Wayne Rooney and Eric Cantona: Arrived a teenage sensation, then condemned to live in Ronaldo's shadow, Rooney subsequently blossomed. Carried United into their post-Ronaldo season. More than any single player, Cantona transformed United from nearly men to champions. Arrived with the swagger of a man destined to usurp Denis Law as the new king. Fifteen years after his departure, he is still adored.