Fergie's dream team: Robson, Cantona, Beckham? Find out who makes the Manchester United boss best ev
19 March 2009 04:06
Sir Alex Ferguson's dream squad, selected from the players he has managed in more than 22 years as Manchester United boss, makes for impressive viewing.
Sorry son, you're out: Nemanja Vidic may be the forerunner for the player of the year award, but boss Ferguson failed to mention him among the best players he has worked with
'I have been blessed with terrific players,' admitted Ferguson, naming a line up that includes the likes of Peter Schmeichel, Rio Ferdinand, Bryan Robson, Cristiano Ronaldo and Eric Cantona in an interview with the New Statesman.
But one name stands out for Sir Alex above all the rest: Ryan Giggs. '(I would) never, ever leave him out if I was playing my best team,' said the United manager.
In the midst of a galaxy of a star strikers including Van Nistelrooy, Cole and Sheringham there's a mention, too, for Wayne Rooney as Ferguson says: 'If I left him out, I'd have to do it by email or I'd never hear the end of it.'
There's no Nemanja Vidic, Mark Hughes or Brian McClair for Fergie, though, despite the United manager's attempts to name just about everyone.
Here is Sportsmail's guide to Ferguson's United dream team. It may not be a strict starting XI but, after winning six European trophies, 13 league titles, 20 domestic gongs and numerous personal awards, we'll let him off.
Two goalies for sure. Both top keepers.'Peter Schmeichel The Danish 'keeper spent eight years at United from 1991 to 1999 and won five league titles, three FA Cups and the 1992 League Cup, as well as skippering Ferguson's team to victory in the 1999 Champions League final.
Edwin van der Sar
After a fruitless search for a replacement for Schmeichel, Ferguson finally got his man when he signed Van der Sar in June 2005 from Fulham for an undisclosed fee.
The Dutchman kept 24 clean sheets in all competitions in 2007-08 as United retained the league title and won the Champions League. Van der Sar's 14-game run of clean sheets this season has put an 11th Premier League title well within Ferguson's sights.
The Irishman joined United in June 1990 as Ferguson paid £625,000 to sign the left-back from Oldham. He was ever-present for United as Ferguson won his first Championship in 1993 and played every league game in United's Double-winning season on 1994.
Irwin has won more trophies than any other United player bar Ryan Giggs and left the club in May 2002 after 33 goals in 529 appearances.
A one club man, Neville lifted the 2007 Premier League trophy as United skipper and, like his peers Giggs and Scholes, has won everything the game has to offer in his 18 years at Old Trafford.
Neville's determination is the key aspect of his game and the right-back has made 565 appearances for United, scoring seven goals.
Sir Alex Ferguson thinks his current United squad is the best he's ever had. Do you agree? Post your comments below.Flying Frenchman: Patrice Evra
Ferguson signed Evra in January 2006, bringing the France international to Old Trafford from Monaco.
He has since made 132 appearances, scoring two goals, and has won everything bar the FA Cup as a United player.
Fabio and Rafael da Silva
Fabio (right-footed, left-sided) and Rafael (right-back) officially joined United last summer. The twins, both 18, are rated extremely highly by Ferguson and Rafael has already made 21 first-team appearances. The Brazilian Neville brothers? Ferguson's praise suggests the Da Silvas will be even better.
You'd have to say Stam, Bruce, Ferdinand and Pallister. Ronny Johnsen was top drawer as well. Jonny Evans will be up there.'Jaap StamFerguson says his biggest mistake was selling 29-year-old Stam to Lazio for £16.5m in 2001 after the defender criticised him manager and some of his team-mates in his autobiography.
The Holland international spent three years at United, winning the Treble in 1999 and retaining the Premier league title in 2000 before leaving Old Trafford under a cloud.
Ferguson paid just £825,000 to sign Bruce from Norwich City in December 1987 and the defender went on to make 414 appearances for the club, scoring 51 goals.
Bruce's partnership with Pallister provided the foundation for Ferguson's Championship-winning sides of 1993, 1994 and 1996, together with success in the 1991 European Cup Winner's Cup, 1992 League Cups and the FA Cups of 1990, 1994 and 1996.
A £30m signing for Ferguson in the summer of 2002, Ferdinand has become the bedrock of the United side after serving an eight-month ban for missing a drugs test in 2004.
The England international has racked up 303 appearances, scored seven goals and captained United to Champions League glory in Moscow in 2008.
The other half a central defensive pairing dubbed 'Dolly and Daisy', Pallister made 438 appearances for United from August 1989 to July 1998.
Together with Steve Bruce, Pallister won three Championships, a European Cup Winner's Cup, League Cup and three FA Cups as a United player.
Mr Reliable: Ronny Johnsen
Often the forgotten man of Ferguson's Championship-winning side of the 1990s, the Norway defender spent six years at Old Trafford between 1996 and 2002, winning everything except the League Cup.
One for the future, perhaps, as Evans is just 21 and has only 27 United appearances to his name.
Loan spells at Roy Keane's Sunderland prepared the defender for Premier League football with United and he has deputised for Vidic and Ferdinand when Ferguson has required his services.
I ask myself who were the players you could not leave out. Bryan Robson for sure. Roy Keane. Scholes. Giggs. Ronaldo and Cantona are both "never leave out" players. You'd have Beckham knocking on the door.'Bryan RobsonThe only player Ferguson includes on his list that the Scotsman did not sign, 'Captain Marvel' spent 13 years at United from 1981 to 1994, making 461 appearances.
Robson saw out the barren years at Old Trafford before lifting the 1990 FA Cup, 1992 League Cup and 1993 Premiership title. Robson bowed out after the 1994 'Double-winning' season, having scored 98 goals in a United shirt.
Ferguson signed the Irishman from Nottingham Forest for £3.75 million in the summer of 1993 and he became the fulcrum of United's all-conquering teams of the 1990s, captaining the side after Cantona's departure in 1997.
After 480 appearances, 51 goals and 12 years at Old Trafford, Keane had won everything in the game, but endured mixed emotions during United's Triple-winning season of 1999. Suspension forced the midfield player to miss the Champions League final and injury curtailed his contribution to United's FA Cup victory.
Youthful exuberance: Gary Neville (left), David Beckham (centre) celebrate after Roy Keane scores in 1997
Another one-club man, Scholes signed for United in 1991 aged 17 and has not looked back since. The midfield player has won everything with United, but the 2008 Champions League triumph must have been particularly sweet as Scholes missed the 1999 final through suspension.
Scholes' 594 United appearances put him fourth in the all-time list, behind Ryan Giggs (794), Sir Bobby Charlton (758) and Bill Foulkes (688), and he has scored 141 goals so far.
The Welshman has made more appearances and won more trophies than any other player in United's history.
Giggs also scored the goal Sir Alex Ferguson rates as the best he's seen during his time at Old Trafford (against Arsenal in the 1999 FA cup semi-final) and is the only player to have scored in all 17 seasons of the Premier League.
The winger signed for United in 2003 as a virtual unknown and hasblossomed into the best footballer on the planet, becoming the firstUnited player since George Best in 1968 to win the Ballon d'Or trophy.
In 2007-08 he scored 42 goals in all competitions and has won aclean sweep of domestic, European and international honours in his fiveyears at Old Trafford. And he's still only 24.
Beckham spent 12 years at United, winning six Championship titles,two FA Cups, one European Cup, one Intercontinental Cup and one FAYouth Cup before moving to Real Madrid in June 2003 for £24.5m.Ferguson might not have agreed with Beckham's celebrity lifestyle, butthe former England captain played his part in some memorable Unitedvictories during the 1990s.
Where do I start? Van Nistelrooy, Cole, Yorke, Solskjaer, Sheringham. As for Rooney.'Enlarge
King Eric: Michael Browne's 1997 painting of Cantona and team-mates
'The King' was voted United's 'Player of the Century', despite having spent just five successful, but controversial, years at the club.
Cantona will be remembered as much for that karate kick in 1995 as for the 'Doubles' he won with United in 1994 and 1996 and the wonderful performances which earned him the 1994 PFA Player of the Year and 1996 FWA Footballer of the Year awards. Cantona retired after helping United secure their fourth Premier League title in five years in 1997.
Ruud van Nistelrooy
The Dutchman scored 150 goals for United in just 219 appearances between July 2001 and the summer of 2005, taking just three seasons to pass the 100 goals mark.
Ferguson signed Van Nistelrooy after a protracted chase, finally getting his man for £19m in 2001. He scored 36 goals in his debut season, 44 the season after and 30 in his third season at Old Trafford and overtook Denis Law as the club's leading goal-scorer in European competition.
Cole took a while to justify the record £6.25m Ferguson paid to sign the striker from Newcastle United in January 1995, but went on to form a prolific partnership with Dwight Yorke and scored 121 goals in 275 appearances. Cole is also the second highest goal-scorer in Premier League history, netting 187 goals (Alan Shearer is top with 260).
Ferguson paid £12.6m to sign the striker from Aston Villa in August 1998 and he won the Treble in his first year at Old Trafford, finishing the season as the Champions' top scorer in the league with 18 goals.
His partnership with Andy Cole brought further rewards for United in 2000 and 2001 at Ferguson's side swept to consecutive league titles, but Yorke left the club in 2002 after losing his place to Van Nistelrooy.
Deadly duo: Dwight Yorke (left) and Andy Cole lift the European Cup in 1999
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
The 'Baby-Faced Assassin' could well have been nicknamed 'Super Sub' as his last-minute goals, including that injury time winner against Bayern Munich in the 199 Champions League final, helped United to a glut of trophies during the late 1990s.
Solskjaer played 366 times for United between 1996 and 2007, scoring 126 goals, including four in 12 minutes against Nottingham Forest in February 1999, United's record Premiership away win.
The England striker spent four seasons at Old Trafford from 1997 to 2001, winning the Treble in 1999 and further league titles in 2000 and 2001. Sheringham will, however, be best remembered for his contribution to United's 1999 Champions League triumph against Bayern Munich, when he scored the equaliser and set up Solskjaer's injury time winner.
Ferguson didn't dare leave Rooney off the list. Would you, judging by our picture (right)?
The world's most expensive teenager when he joined United from Everton in August 2004, Rooney has scored 93 goals in 224 appearances for the Old Trafford club.
The PFA Young Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006, Rooney has perhaps been overshadowed by Ronaldo but has already won two Championships, two League Cups, the Champions League and the World Cup Championship since swapping blue for red.
Sir Alex Ferguson thinks his current United squad is the best he's ever had. Do you agree? Post your comments below.