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Greatest Manchester United XI

Akshay Ron
2.83K   //    20 Mar 2013, 13:19 IST

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of Sportskeeda.

I have composed a list of the greatest players to have played for Manchester United. Not only those who played for a long time, but also those who were technically expert. I have decide to go with a 4-4-2 formation as that is what we use for most of the matches.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson

1. Peter Schmeichel (Goalkeeper)

He was signed as an unknown player in 1991, but his size, physique, ball throwing ability, shot stopping and mammoth kicking meant he was destined to be a great player. He went on to become probably United’s finest goalkeeper. He commanded the penalty area and he just hated conceding a goal. He even scored a goal, and United’s only player to have been close to replacing him was Edwin van der Sar. He holds the record for the highest clean sheets to games ratio in the Premier League, with 42%.

2. Gary Neville (Right back)

Part of the famous “Class of ’92″, he was one of United’s most loyal players, who made 602 appearances for the Red Devils. He just loved the club and was probably the best right back of his generation. His crosses were accurate, although his goal tally was very low. He formed a lethal partnership on the right hand side with David Beckham, and won 21 titles with United.

3. Steve Bruce (Centre back)

Ferguson’s captain, defensive rock, and with an abundance of determination, Steve Bruce was often regarded as the finest defender in the club’s 135 year history. More than willing to play while injured, extremely strong in the tackle and in the air, he refused to give in to any striker. Unusually for a defender, he had a high goal scoring rate and ended the 1990/91 season with 19 goals, and was also an effective penalty taker. He made 420 appearances and scored 52 goals. He won 12 trophies for United before leaving for Blackburn in 1997.

4. Rio Ferdinand (Centre back)


Rio Ferdinand came to United as their most expensive signing and the world’s most expensive defender. But he was definitely worth it. Known for his no-nonsense defending, he’s a man who reads the game well and makes tackles perfectly. His grace on the ball and his physical approach, combined with pace, matched any forward until recently, when he did lose some of his pace. He has made 424 appearances till now and has won 13 titles, with probably the 14th one to come this summer.

5. Denis Irwin (Left back)

One of the stalwarts of the dominant United team of the 1990′s, the left back on this list is Irishman Dennis Irwin. He made those marauding runs in the left flank, while offering more-than-able defensive skills. He was United’s Mr.Dependable. He was a set-piece specialist who played on the left flank despite being right-footed. At the age of 34, he won the treble with United, playing an important role in it. He won 15 trophies and made 529 appearances, scoring 33 goals.

6. Duncan Edwards (Centre midfielder)

Although he is primarily remembered as a defensive midfielder, Edwards is said to have been able to operate in any position on the pitch. His versatility was such that on one occasion, he started the match playing as an emergency striker in place of one injured player, before being switched to central defence instead of another player. Sir Matt Busby quoted that Duncan Edwards was the most complete player he had ever seen. But it is a pity that such an extraordinary player died in the Munich tragedy. He made his debut for United at 16 and was an England regular by 18.

7. Paul Scholes (Centre Midfielder)

Part of the famous “Class of’92″ Paul Scholes goes down in the history of the club as one of its greatest players. An ever-present player since his debut in 1994, he is known for his technique, passing abilities, vision, dictating play, calmness on the ball and his trademark long range goals from outside the box. A one-club man, he inspires many young players with his flawless technique. Pele said, “If he (Paul Scholes) had been there, I would have scored so many more.” He has racked up more than 700 appearances and has scored 155 goals for the club, and is 3rd on the all time appearances list behind Giggs and Bobby Charlton

8. George Best (Right Wing)

“Pele good, Maradona better, George Best”. This quote shows how great a player George Best was. Those who saw him live would assert he was the best winger ever – for United and in world football. He was certainly spectacular at a time when full-backs routinely kicked lumps out of wingers, or hoofed them into the stands. He was as two footed as a player could ever be and was a very good finisher. Sir Matt Busby said, “It was a very simple team talk. All I used to say was, ‘Whenever possible, give the ball to George”. He won the Ballon d’Or in 1968, but this was a player who would not fulfil his potential because of his addiction to alcohol and women.

9. Ryan Giggs (Left Wing)

The name Manchester United and Ryan Giggs are synonymous to each other. He is the most decorated player in the history of the Premier League with 33 trophies and 168 goals. The only player to have scored in each season of the Premier League and have played the longest time without ever being sent off. He used to beat defenders with ease and gave pinpoint crosses. Sir Alex Ferguson said, “Whether dribbling or sprinting, Ryan Giggs can leave the best defenders with twisted blood.” He has made the highest appearances for United at 932, and many more are yet to come. He holds the record for most number of assists in the Premier League.

10. Sir Bobby Charlton (Attacking Midfielder)

Sir Bobby, as he is now known, was a legendary midfielder who was a driving force through the middle, and a true long range shot specialist. He played for Manchester United for almost all of his career and was an important part, along with George Best, in winning the 1968 Champions League. He helped England win the World Cup for the only time, in 1966. As a survivor of the Munich disaster, he played an important part in reconstructing the team. He has made 758 appearances for the club, a feat eclipsed only by Ryan Giggs, and has scored 247 goals, a record that still stands.

11.Eric Cantona (Striker)

Sir Alex Ferguson was criticised for buying a player like Cantona, who had a poor disciplinary record on and off the field. But he did more than enough to find a place in the hearts of the Manchester United faithful that would last forever. He was an amazing player who had the flair, the skill, arrogance and the physicality to excel in the English game. He scored 82 goals for United, and every lineup with Cantona seemed to be better. He won 9 titles with United and was United’s best forward.

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson

He is the man at the helm of Manchester United for 26 years since 1986, and the man who has groomed so many players and won as many as 37 trophies. Age doesn’t seem to be a factor for this man, as he still gets his tactics perfect at the age of 71. He has absolute control over the dressing room, and believes that the team is above every one else. A man who commands respect all over the world and probably the best manager in the history of the club.

Honourable Mentions: Sir Matt Busby, Dennis Law, Dennis Viollet, Cristiano Ronaldo, Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Jaap Stam, Gary Pallister, Tony Dunne, Johnny Carey, Nemanja Vidic, Roger Bryne, Edwin Van Der Sar, David Beckham, Lou Macari, Steve Coppell, Patrice Evra, Wayne Rooney, Ruud Van Nistelrooy ….. the list is endless.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of Sportskeeda.

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Akshay Ron
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