Fergie’s greatest ever Man Utd XI
GOALKEEPER: Peter Schmeichel
The giant Dane (five titles, one European Cup) edges out Ewin van der Sar (four titles, one European Cup), mainly thanks to his extraordinary presence and positional play.
RIGHT-BACK: Gary Neville
Ultra-consistent, the outspoken England man’s all-round efficiency for United spanned 19 years and 602 appearances.
CENTRE-BACK: Jaap Stam
One of Fergie’s few exit errors was was allowing Stam to go in 2001. The Dutchman was a classical centre-back: strong-tackling, superb in the air and a supreme reader of the game. Won the title in each of his three seasons at Old Trafford.
CENTRE-BACK: Rio Ferdinand
No other English defender of the modern generation has rivalled Ferdinand’s ease on the ball. And at his decade-long peak he had the pace, as well as all the conventional rearguard qualities, to keep United’s current main man at the back, Nemanja Vidic, out of this best-ever XI.
LEFT-BACK: Patrice Evra
The Frenchman’s more complete game pips Mr Steady Denis Irwin, although many will feel the right-footed Ireland ace deserves a place for his long-serving impact.
RIGHT-WING: Cristiano Ronaldo
David Beckham is an impressive but distant runner-up for this berth. Because Portuguese great Ronaldo was a one-time world player of the year in his six seasons at United. And he is the perfect example of a modern attacker: fast, skilful and energetic but also fearless, strong and better in the air than even the most traditional of targetmen. Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Argentinian raider Lionel Messi remain a class above the rest of the planert. And if Ronaldo rejoins United then he could soon be regarded as their finest-ever player.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Roy Keane
A giant in character and performance, the Irishman struck fear and loathing into his Premier League rivals for his sour aggression, box-to-box energy and sound passing. Had legendary duels with Arsenal’s Patrick Vieira. But his signature display came in the 1999 Champions League last-four clash against Juventus in Turin, when he was already booked and out of the final.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Paul Scholes
The England star’s technique, finishing and deft passing over all ranges lift him above Bryan Robson’s more show-stopping reputation.World greats like Xavi and Edgar Davids compare Scholes to continental greats.
LEFT-WING: Ryan Giggs
Perhaps United’s top performer of all time. Most of his 23 years and near-900 games for United have tormented full-backs with his high-speed weaving and left-foot mastery down the flank. But, this decade, the Welshman has become a clever prompter from central midfield
STRIKER: Wayne Rooney
Robin van Persie might well have nabbed this spot had he joined United a season or two earlier. And Ruud van Nistelrooy bagged 95 goals in his 150 matches under Fergie. But instead versatile warrior Rooney, who many tipped to be an all-time England great, wins a place for his nine mostly-impressive years. Personal-life controversy, a transfer request U-turn and question marks over his relationship with Fergie have occasionally marred Rooney's stint at United. But - aside from Ronaldo and now RVP - he has usually been their chief hope for inspiration.
STRIKER: Eric Cantona
An enigma almost everywhere else, Cantona was a swaggering sensation at United, thanks to a unique blend of touch, towering bravura and special goals. A Kung Fu kick at a Crystal Palace fan, and the resulting ban, barely dented the awe in which Old Trafford fans held, and still hold, him.