Tuesday 28 March 2017

Ferguson's best United XI

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson turns 70 today having recently celebrated 25 years at the helm. Here we try to pick the greatest United XI from the Ferguson era.

GOALKEEPER: Peter Schmeichel

Boils down to a choice between Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar, with little between them. Schmeichel (five league 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 loyal Neville is the stand-out candidate. First-team career lasted 19 years and 602 appearances.

CENTRE-HALF: Jaap Stam

Ferguson has admitted to making one of his few mistakes in allowing Stam to leave in 2001. Only at United for three seasons but won the title in every one, in addition to the Champions League. Few come close.

CENTRE-HALF: Nemanja Vidic

Struggled at first but has gone on to become one of the world's best defenders. Has the strength to match any opponent and is proving an outstanding captain.

LEFT-BACK: Denis Irwin

Naturally right-footed, the Ireland full-back was equally comfortable on the left. Renowned for his reliability, the Corkman also gave the side great service from the flanks and set-pieces.

RIGHT-WING: Cristiano Ronaldo

David Beckham is an obvious choice here 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.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Roy Keane

The Irish colossus patrolled the United midfield as though it was his own personal fiefdom. His performance in the 1999 Champions League semi-final against Juventus in Turin will stand comparison with any.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Paul Scholes

Sometimes decisions are so tough, it is best to let others make them. When great players such as Xavi and Edgar Davids are asked to name the man who made United tick, Scholes is the name they come up with. That will do for us.

LEFT-WING: Ryan Giggs

Nearly 900 appearances into his career, 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

Arrived a teenage sensation, Rooney is now starting to blossom. He is back to his best and ready to assume the mantle of greatness for which he was destined.

CENTRE-FORWARD: Eric Cantona

More than any single player, Cantona transformed United from nearly men to champions. Fifteen years after his departure, he is still adored.

Irish Independent

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