Sir Alex Ferguson’s Best XI – Without His Four ‘World Class’ Stars

On the eve of former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson releasing his latest book entitled Leading, the British press are clambering over quotes made by the 73 year old covering his time with both Aberdeen and United.

There has been some kind words in favour of former Liverpool and Arsenal defenders Jamie Carragher and Tony Adams – both of which Ferguson admits did not possess the most ability but were certainly players he would have liked to bring to Old Trafford.

Whilst there have been some huge revelations about hierarchy at Old Trafford, how he headed up a dictatorship and of course the salaries of certain players; it is the comments on the world class players he did manage which have dominated the back pages.

All too often a good footballer gets branded world class and it simply is not the case.

There is good, very good, great, excellent… and then there is true world class.

In modern day, many would agree Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are a cut above any of their peers. Below them you would see Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero. Then comes the rest.

So at what cut off point is ‘world class’? How is it defined?

This has been highlighted by Ferguson who states that Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo were the only true world class players he managed.

Perhaps agendas of revenge prevent Sir Alex complimenting other former players?

Perhaps this is how he genuinely feels?

A touch harsh on many, considering Ferguson had a treble winning squad in 1999 and double winning squad in 2008.

So today, The Faithful’s Nathon Woodhead looks at the good, very good, great, and possibly world class players who missed out on such complimentary words, and picks a Sir Alex Ferguson Best XI.

(Disclaimer: Nathon would like to apologise for those of you who are already angry with his selection. The four players Sir Alex referred to have all been left out of the line-up).

Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel
World class: yes

It is hard to argue that Schmeichel is not the greatest goalkeeper to ever play the game. He went on to become an extremely important player under Ferguson, and was probably the hardest player the boss ever had to replace. A man mountain who put in consistently great performances week after week, season after season.

Right back: Gary Neville
World class: no

Gary Neville was a United youth product who recognised that his limited technical ability needed to be counteracted with hard work and dedication. Solid, reliable and a lot better at football than he was ever given credit for. Every good team needs a Gary Neville.

Centre back: Rio Ferdinand
World class: yes

There is absolutely no denying that Ferdinand was a Rolls-Royce of a defender. Whilst other English centre halves took plaudits for sticking their head in where it hurts, Rio was always one step ahead and read the game beautifully. An exceptional footballer and wonderful leader. Sadly hindered by injury in his twilight years at United – but still named in numerous PFA teams of the year.

Centre back: Nemanja Vidic
World class: yes

Sir Alex Ferguson was blessed to have Vidic and Rio as a pairing for such a long time. The Serbian was a warrior and unbeatable in the air. What he lacked in flair and style he made up for in decision making. A great captain for the club who many agree left too soon.

Left back: Patrice Evra
World class: no

The French left-back was arguably the best left back of his generation (although Ashley Cole fans would disagree). Exceptional at getting up and down the line – supporting the attack but not shying away from defensive duties. Evra was a model professional.

Midfield: David Beckham
World class: no

Has there ever been a player who could cross a ball, or place a pin point pass like Becks? Although his pop-star life was often said to have prevented him from becoming a true great, Beckham reached legendary status under Sir Alex. A magnificent, passionate footballer for United and a dead-ball extraordinaire.

Midfield: Roy Keane
World class: yes

Keane was the greatest box to box midfielder around in the 90’s and a man who brought out the best in his team mates. Often referred to as a ‘hardman’, Keane was also a talented footballer. He led by example, and it was his own super high standards which eventually became his downfall.

Midfield: Paul Ince
World class: no

Ince was the self-titled ‘Guvnor’ – and for a few seasons in the early-mid 90’s, it was plain to see why. Another midfield general who would win his individual battle every single week. Sadly found out on the European stage but always domestically dominant.

Forward: Andrei Kanchelskis
World class: no

The Russian forward was exceptionally quick and deadly. His time at United was short lived but whilst he was there, especially throughout the 1993/94 campaign, he was a true asset to Ferguson.

Forward: Wayne Rooney
World class: no

Wayne Rooney is on the cusp of breaking many records for club and country, yet still has his doubters. Huge expectations from such a young age are probably what prevents Rooney being recognised as world class. He has been a great footballer and done enormous amounts in the game, yet most people assumed he would be on a par with Ronaldo and Messi. He is some way from that level.

Striker: Ruud Van Nistelrooy
World class: no

Manchester United have had great striker after great striker at the club – but none were as deadly in front of goal as this Dutchman. He could go 70 minutes without doing a thing, but in a flash the ball would be in the net. Ferguson knew Ruud’s value even when he suffered an injury which kept him out for a year. Ferguson waited for his man to recover… it was worth the wait.

About Steve Ferguson 886 Articles
Steve Ferguson had taken over & re-branded The Faithful MUFC website back in the summer of 2014 and is now the owner and editor of the site. Steve, from Ashton-Under-Lyne in Greater Manchester, is a 35-year-old life long Manchester United fan, travelling over the globe to see the Reds play. Steve has been lucky enough to be at both the 1999 and 2008 Champions League finals, seeing Manchester United lift the biggest trophy in the World, none more exciting than that faithful night in Barcelona in 99. The website is a blog, but also hopes to deliver the latest Manchester United news from around the internet too, linked up with our growing twitter account which is @TheFaithfulMUFC, give it a follow as we will follow you back as soon as we can.

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