rss twitter facebook mobile

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Best XI

If Sir Alex Ferguson’s autobiography proves anything about his time in charge then it’s that we were truly blessed. During his 27 years at Old Trafford, United played, for the most part, expansive, attacking football utilising some of the finest players ever to have graced these shores.

Ferguson has repeatedly stated how fortunate he feels to have had so many great footballers in his charge, and picking a best team of his managerial reign is no simple task. Despite this, here’s an attempt at the best Manchester United XI of Fergie’s time.

Peter Schmeichel
Perhaps the only player in this side with a genuine claim to being the best ever in his position, Schmeichel was, in Ferguson’s words, “the signing of the century.” The only goalkeeper one felt was more likely to save than concede when facing a striker in a one-on-one situation, he was even immortalised in Coronation Street (what better name for a Great Dane?). Oh, and he even scored goals from time to time.

Gary Neville
A hugely popular figure, Neville was the fans’ representative on the pitch. The least technically gifted player in this team, Red Nev was the model professional who emphatically fulfilled every last drop of his potential. His understanding with David Beckham bordered on the telepathic, and his chant—to the tune of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel”—which concluded with the line, “Neville Neville, that’s the name of his Dad,” will live long in the memory.

Jaap Stam
The big Dutchman was only with United for three years, but his crucial role in the treble success of 1999 ensures his legacy will not be forgotten. A force of nature with brains as well as brawn, Ferguson regards letting him go as one of his biggest mistakes in management. That tells you everything you need to know.

Rio Ferdinand
Paolo Maldini’s natural heir, Ferdinand may not be the most popular figure outside of the red half of Manchester, but he has a serious claim to being United’s finest ever defender. Never quick to throw himself into a tackle, Rio is rarely booked, and his perfect afternoon is one in which he has kept both a clean sheet and clean shorts.

Denis Irwin
The unsung hero, “eight out of ten” Irwin was the quiet man who rarely had a bad game in more than 350 appearances for United. A set-piece specialist with an outstanding crossing ability, the Irishman never shirked his defensive responsibilities. One could count the amount of mistakes he made in a season on one finger. Not for nothing did Ferguson recently claim he’d be the first name on the team sheet if he were to compile a similar XI.

Cristiano Ronaldo
The only United player to be generally acknowledged as the best in the world during Ferguson’s time, Ronaldo was the defining figure of the manager’s third truly great side. His 42 goals in the 2007-08 season led to a league and European Cup double. The Portuguese star claims never to have seen the “hair-dryer” during his time in Manchester, but the gaffer certainly didn’t struggle to get the best out of him.

Roy Keane
The combustible Irishman was the footballing equilateral of an electron—forever there and not there. Even if his contribution wasn’t always the most spectacular, Keane’s consistency was astonishing. The closest thing to the manager on the pitch, the midfielder’s ferocity was only matched by his sheer will to win. His performance away at Juventus in the 1999 Champions League semi-final was arguably the finest individual display of the Ferguson era.

Paul Scholes
The most technically gifted English footballer of his generation, Scholes was the footballer’s footballer in much the same way as Larry David is considered the comedian’s comedian—basically, the best. The shy, local lad was one of the finest passers in the game’s history and scored some of the most magnificent goals. Put it this way: If Zinedine Zidane reckons you’re the greatest, then you must have done something right.

Ryan Giggs
The most successful British footballer ever, Giggs broke Sir Bobby Charlton’s appearance record for the club in Moscow on the same night his penalty helped bring the European Cup to Old Trafford once again. He has won 13 Premier League titles and not done too badly for himself since Ferguson first saw him play “He was 13 and floated over the ground like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind.” He is also responsible for probably the greatest individual goal of Ferguson’s reign.

Eric Cantona
The final piece of the jigsaw, Cantona is not known by United fans as “Dieu” for nothing. The mercurial Frenchman was the catalyst for all of the club’s subsequent success.
United had not won the league for 25 years when he joined, then proceeded to do so in four of his five seasons at the club. And the other one? He missed a large portion of the season through suspension after attempting to, quite literally, kick racism out of football.

Ruud van Nistelrooy
Van Nistelrooy scored goals. It really was that simple. The ultimate poacher, there can’t have been many players with such an uncanny knack for finding themselves in the right place at the right time. With Ferdinand, the Dutchman was Ferguson’s finest big-money signing.


Edwin Van Der Sar
The hero in Moscow in 2008, he was the man who finally filled the void left by Schmeichel. Ludicrously consistent.

Steve Bruce
His two late headers against Sheffield Wednesday effectively won Ferguson his first title. A brilliant captain and penalty-taker.

Nemanja Vidic
A man-mountain, it is remarkable how much more solid the team looked with him in the centre of defence. Instrumental in the club’s recent success.

Bryan Robson
Captain Marvel. The hero of Ferguson’s early years, Robbo carried the team almost single-handedly.

David Beckham
Oddly underrated despite his enormous level of fame. The best crosser in the world at his peak and arguably United’s best player in their most successful season.

Wayne Rooney
The last of the street footballers. Not always the most popular, he is still England’s best player by a mile and an integral part of United’s recent triumphs.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
In many ways, the anti-Rooney. Effortlessly lovable, the baby-faced assassin has a strong claim to being the game’s best-ever substitute. He also scored the goal in Barcelona that has to go down as the zenith of Ferguson’s 27 years. Football? Bloody hell.

About Darren Richman

Darren's work has appeared in The Independent, The Guardian and The Daily Mirror. Follow @DarrenRichman on Twitter.

View all posts by Darren Richman »



  1. wayne says:

    although i know little about Reus Dortmund confirmed today there is a buyout clause in his contract,in regards to Gundogan read could already be a deal in place with Madrid because he’s refusing to sign a new contract

  2. wayne says:

    23.37 Rene

  3. DreadedRed says:

    There is no ways Bebe goes anywhere near that list. We took in a disadvantaged no-hoper, who’s actually performed remarkably well in his long road to somewhere. Now we call the kid a cunt and define him as a failure? Only we can fail in this instance. Not Bebe. We took the job on, let’s stick to the plan. Make him as good as he can be. We now know that his ceiling is unlikely to reach the heady heights that Sir Alex hoped for. It was always very unlikely to happen. But SAF’s no fool. Bit of a track record really when it comes to bringing in top youngsters, or unlikely stars. Do we burn the long-shots that don’t come off when WE chose to make the bet? No, we look after our own. Morrison was a long-shot. He failed here pretty quickly. Or did he perhaps develop here to the point where now he’s on the cusp of a top career? We don’t ridicule him for not fulfilling his potential here. We remember the lad that spent his youth growing up here, and enjoy the tyke’s coming-of-age. Whatever level Bebe reaches, he’s already a success story. Anything he ever does well, should make us feel real good. Anything. I’m with denton and Samuel on this: Bebe could well surprise us yet. I fucking hope so. I’d put him and Danny at the top of my wishlist.

  4. Tommy says:


    I think Argies just like the signing on fee, take Heinze for example he had been with 4 or 5 clubs before signing for us and has had a similar number since leaving and the majority of argie players are like him, Take Tevez I bet he has 3 Italian clubs in the next 5 years! Gary Nev wrote in his book in Tevez last season with us he was constantly late and loved to go down in training with a mysterious thigh strain, because he knew he was off at the end of the season!

  5. Tommy says:


    Top post mate, Bebe and morrison are like chalk and cheese, Bebe is a guy that come from a really poor background has had the hardest start in life imaginable and is trying to make a success of himself, the lad is improving slowly, he has raw pace which you can work with so good luck to him, now compare him to morrison, a kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth, has so much talent yet decides to be a tee leaf and steal things, decides to think hes some kind of gangster and knock around with wrong ens, gets a big fine for intimidating a key witness in a murder trial and gets a caution for beating up his own mum! I know which one I would prefer to be successful!

  6. DreadedRed says:

    wayne – I do agree that they both made a big contribution. Also that the on-field contribution is what it’s all about. I guess I’m too greedy to wish they’d never joined us, but actually I should. I don’t want a snood wearing twat like nasri, so I’m glad we didn’t get him. I don’t want a vindictive, selfish twas like Tevez, so I should wish that we never bought him.

    But yeah, I do hate the cunts so I’m lobbying for their inclusion!

  7. DreadedRed says:

    John – I think the players must have been given a fair crack of the whip. We can’t judge a player on a few performances and a couple of red-top scoops, much as that might come as a shock to some.

  8. wayne says:

    Dreaded Tevez turned out to be a complete cunt and a mental case but one thing he always gave was 100% on the field and didn’t give any grief until towards the end,can’t lie mate i loved watching him play.No one can deny Hargreaves was taking weekly injections so he could play when he was fucked up and always gave 100% when he did play. I agree with Bebe whatever happens Utd gave him a lifeline when he was homeless so whatever level he ends up at will be a success story

  9. DreadedRed says:

    Tommy – cheers mate, chalk and cheese is exactly right. But still two lads that we’ve accepted as one of our own. Hope they both have great careers.

  10. DreadedRed says:

    wayne – Tevez and Hargreaves did give it all, a quality we yearn for. Top players both, no doubt. I get annoyed sometimes with fans disrespecting Roy, even if he deserves it, because he gave so much. I should afford Tevez and Hargreaves similar leeway, but I don’t. I hate the fuckers.

  11. Tommy says:


    I’m with you mate although Tevez gave us 2 years of good football, Hargreaves on the hand did not even give us 1 solid year, best performances in my opinion where as a right back. With regards to Keano I am disgusted with some fans reactions to OUR greatest ever captain!

  12. John says:

    @wayne…well all the best to Bebe, nothing against the player but my point was we just made a mistake signing him and he has ended up as one of fergie worst signings until he “dramatically” surprises us all and breakes into the team in future..and I am looking from club perspective not Bebe personally..which is a failure of our club in my of luck for your wish list!!..may it become reality which to me is unlikely, tbh…

  13. DreadedRed says:

    Scott Wootton has played 9 of Leeds last 11 games, but I bear him no malice. Now, if he can just get them relegated.

  14. wayne says:

    Roy Keane was one of the best players of his generation and a major driving force behind Utd’s success he deserves our respect although now clearly a very bitter man over how it ended.

  15. wayne says:

    it’s really nice after a decent win get rid of the trolls and haters,for a short time anyway,almost like a holiday having normal conversations

  16. WeAreUnited says:

    I agree with those rating hargreaves and Tevez

    I though when Tevez signed for us tha tit was one of the biggest signings and it certainly was, he gave 110% on the pitch and we loved him, he was our terrier and he loevd this club he really did, when did you see him smile or celebrate the way he celebrated with us or smiled while playing for us? and then SAF let him go.

    SO it had all the ingridiends, how could saf let him go, is he crazy, why does he not listen to the supporters and to be honest, a rare of us wanted him out. BUT wait! SAS was right, look at his behaviour after leaving us, rip saf, dissing oru team etc! THE RIGHT CHOICE was getting rid of him.

    when he went to Juve, he praised Conte and compared him to SAF as a great manager, it tells that he really enjoyed his time with us and could have played a long period with us, BUt the money talked with him and he got annoyed by the fact that United has its own standards and procedures!

    now so long tevez, really liked him and could never figure it out how berba was ahead of him, but the truth always folds out and we saw what SAF saw every day in trainings.


  17. Tommy says:


    Wheres the truth mate? If we draw against Cardiff next up he will be back with his bile crap!!

  18. WeAreUnited says:


    funny how you noticed it mate “it’s really nice after a decent win get rid of the trolls and haters,for a short time anyway,almost like a holiday having normal conversations”

    it seems like a different blog doesn’t it? even john aka the “gollum” hater who bashed our squad and manager is here and acting normal? can this be because of our success? and because of Moyes turning into a good manager after all? how can you cahnge you attitude so much?

    don’t buy it , I just can’t, if it walks like a duck.. qvaks like a duck, it probably is a duck? right? we’ll see.

    BELIEVE #21

  19. DreadedRed says:

    Thanks for the good tidings John with a capital J! I did notice that a different john posted elsewhere, and realised it wasn’t you. Must feel good to be innocent for a change!

    Tommy – it’s fucking wrong and I won’t stand for it. No loyalty whatsoever to our players, legends and stalwarts. Like when Giggs was splashed on the tabloids. Hundreds of Reds climbed into him.

  20. wayne says:

    Tommy always the case mate,Utd start getting results can’t spread the poison something negative happens all come back like a pack of wolves.Don’t know if you noticed yesterday i’d made a comment about Smalling playing well,then asked were was the truth and King Cantona shortly after King Cantona showed up with his player ratings and gave Smalling a 4,there’s no doubt a few of them have multiple user names

  21. wayne says:

    WeAreUnited always a different blog with just Utd fans discussing things instead of trolls on a wind up mission

  22. Tommy says:


    Smalling a 4 hahaha ok I am not his biggest fan as a rightback but all the lads deserve a minimum of a 7, everyone put a shift in for the team

  23. wayne says:

    Tommy yeah he’d obviously read my comment and did it for the wind up.I don’t think Smalling is a right back but had a great 2nd half.We talked about Tony V at RB before,I’d have left Jones in midfield and moved Smalling to CH but in the end Moyes made the right decision

  24. Tommy says:


    I would of probably did that as well but maybe his thinking was we are ahead so no need to put a winger at RB because we are not chasing had we went in 1 behind, He would of probably went for the Valencia RB option!

  25. John says:

    @Tommy…mate, I think we have to appreciate different opinions and may be even those which you don’t like being said but can be said if you look at big picture…I don’t think this blog should be a place for a like-minded group after victory and defeat…why can’t we all discuss about all the issues without taking things personally and compromising a little by both sided people??..we are all united supporters after all!!..I mean ‘The Truth’, DreadedRed, King Eric and all of us!!..though we may not agree about manager, players, owners, tactics and so on..Because we all are united fans!!..why to chase people unnecessarily, call troll etc.??..I am sorry but i am for open blog and open healthy debate even though we may not agree!!..keep MUFC on top and just don’t take things personally!!..

  26. DreadedRed says:

    Ever had a very rich man pointed out to you? He’s usually described as a twat.

    Jealous cunts live not for their own teams success, but for our failure. You get twats on here talking about our game when their team has also just played. They’re more interested in our game than their own.

    There have been times this season that there are so many idiotic United fans on here that by the time I’ve read the thread I realise it’s pointless trying to educate them, they are irredeemably lost to stupidity. Match day is a farce. As soon as the line-up comes out, the doom-mongers guarantee our demise, only to disappear when their all-seeing visions are shattered by a United goal.

  27. Tommy says:


    Part of what you say is true mate, it would be a boring place if we all agreed with each but then those that criticse should then be big enough to admit they were wrong after a defeat and come on here, instead the truth has not been seen, I wonder why mate, at least when you come on and give out stick your big enough to come back on when we win and give praise! Respect for that!

  28. DreadedRed says:

    I wonder how soon the berties will be voting for the Best Eleven of the Pellegrini Era?

  29. Squeaky says:


    Smalling’s chance was from a free kick mate. Granted Wazza’s off target shot was from open play, but still, 40% possession, 5 shots, and only 2 on target? At home thats woeful. But as I said I don’t mind we crated fuck all on Sunday. We needed to win at all costs and Moyes picked the team to do just that, and when Vidic came off the he made the right move to keep things together. It was always gonna be tight.

    Im just aware how much further this squad has to go before it hits top form.Didn’t get all the praise Wazza got either. Seemed fake to me. Apart from a well taken corner, what else warranted MOTM? I thought Jones deserved to be MOTM he was brilliant. As for Wazza, I just don’t see us beating top opposition with him in that deep role. Nothing personal thats just how it seems this season. Compared to the free flowing football we love, we look shit with him there if im honest.

    Young is no superstar but he is a midfielder, thats why we instantly looked better when he replaced Wazza in Europe. We ended that match (probably) creating more than we did all game. Even Young’s biggest critics have to admit he had an impact and made chances, while Rooney was non-existant in the deep role for most of that game. No disrespect to Arsenal, but they’re no Bayern, Real, Barca or even City or Chelsea. We can get away with it against them, but its risky against better opposition.

    Moyes will have to make some big team selections if we’re gonna grab any silverware this season. If we give a better team 60% possession while creating sod all we’re fucked. I reckon we need 5 midfielders and 1 striker if we’re gonna create anything against the very best. I think with a packed midfield the players we’ve got will defend and create plenty. Doesn’t even matter which striker starts. Personally I can’t wait for Leverkusen, thats must win if want to top the group, but Moyes tactics were spot on v Arsenal. It was a massive win.

  30. John says:

    @DreadedRed…hahahaha, yeah on the other thread got chase to nearly death by @wayne@keanoisdaman,and Tommy…tbh, i tried once by GB7, got fucked up…but since then i haven’t!!…thanks for helping in clarification..”J” not “j”, hahaha..

  31. wayne says:

    John there’s a big diference between difference of opinion and agenda of poison and negativity,if posters show up just to be negative and wind up people all the time.Not Utd fans just trolls

  32. John says:

    @wayne…mate, I said just coz felt that way!..anyway, it all depends on us is our choice individually, in the end!!..just saying honestly but you have been here for years…won’t touch it again!!..

  33. Marq says:

    If we ever had a worst eleven, there needs to be a definition for it. Worst in terms of ability or in terms of fitting in. There is a world of difference for that.

    Obviously the likes of Forlan, Veron and Kleberson will fall into the latter definition, and the likes of Djemba and Dong falls into the former

  34. CTRED says:

    Tevez and Hargreaves were a big part of us winning the Champions League. Ridiculous to suggest they would ever be on a list of worst signings. On that basis I’d include Anderson as well.

    As for Forlan, anyone that scores a brace in a 2-1 league game at Anfield should never be near a worst-of list either.

  35. dannysoya LOVES USAIN BOLT says:

    LOL someone said Nani should be on the list of fergie’s worst 11? My goodness.

  36. matty says:

    Tevez and hargo were loved by all of us, and cant stop imagining what could have happened in rome09 if hargo or fletch were available. Fact, i think it was cos of hargo’s sucess in that bulldog midfield role, that fergie began to tailor fletcher’s career from a stand-in winger to a box-to-box midfielder.
    Yea tevez may be a cunt but who can forget the genuine passion and love he displayed for our club?
    Lets be honest 98.5% of foreign players would have done exactly what he did after the treatment he got from fergie.

  37. tallestreD says:

    Calling Bebe a flop isn’t fair because he was just RAW. No prior schooling on the game we have come to love. As many on here have said, its already a success to us the way he turned out.
    As for John with a J’ not j’, it is good to have difference in opinion as it helps the blog but to vomit vile comments is malicious in its own right.
    At the start of the season yourself and the truth were the major culprits amongst others spitting venomous comments over and over. Now you’ve changed WeAreUnited said, I just don’t buy it. Just the same way I don’t buy the thought that
    Ramsey has turned in to a world class player.

  38. tallestreD says:

    How was the best eleven arrived at? Use the same parameters to get the worst eleven.

  39. DreadedRed says:

    CTRED – ‘ridiculous’ describes both Tevez and Hargreaves quite aptly. They both poured their bitter derision all over United, ridiculing the Club and therefore all of us. Hardly a redeeming feature in a player. In fact, if I was offered Tevez on a free, I wouldn’t take him. Even if he came with a CL guarantee. Let’s face it, Suarez right now is better than Tevez, but that vile cunt is the worst signing we could make.

  40. Jesper Olsen says:

    Morning pussy’s!!!! I’ve scouse mates who have gone into hibernation and rumour has it one of them self combust eating his microwave dinner on Sunday!!! Why becuase United are back!!!! Romours circulating this morning that the feelers have been put out by Moyes with Dortmund on a deal to swap kagawa with Reus…… What’s your views?

  41. tallestreD says:

    @jesper olsen, is Reus what we need right now?

  42. Jesper Olsen says:

    @talkestreD fuck knows mate all I know us I wanted united to buy him when we bought kags… Great players are allways welcome the difficulty is fitting them into your system.. Kags is a smashing player too but for £29m he’d beva cracking signing

  43. King Eric says:

    Fergie says in his book Bebe WAS 7 million. Said he had great power and two great feet with a cannon of a shot with no drag back. Jose confirmed he knew Madrid were sniffing about. Ha on Hargreaves he says he was possibly his most disappointing purchase. Said basically was a fairy who didn’t seem to have the right mentality for returning from injury.

  44. Tommy says:

    @king eric

    He also said his gut was telling him not to sign hargreaves and he should of listened to it!

  45. wayne says:

    King Eric i’m not sure about that mate the specialists said Hargreaves tendinitis was the worst they’d seen and he was taking weekly injections while he was fucked up to play,his signing was a major fuck up by Utd’s medical staff,had nothing to do with the right mentality imo he had a serious injury that just wasn’t curable

  46. Red Devil Disciple says:

    uniteds greatest 11 the big Dane Gary Neville Irwin Vidic Rio Best Cantona Giggs Ronaldo Scholes the Stretford end United United United

  47. Red Devil Disciple says:

    And Keeno oops


You must be logged in to post a comment.