Sir Alex Ferguson – The Greatest
This was the day that the most influential and successful manager British football has ever seen decided to call it time as the manager of Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement after 26 years in charge, a period which saw him win 13 Premier League titles, 5 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, 10 Charity/Community Shields, 2 Champions Leagues, 1 European Cup Winners Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 1 FIFA Club World Cup.
The statistics speak for themselves, so I’m not about to try and write a blog paying tribute to him; instead, this is my Fergie XI…….
Gary Neville – If you think of massive business men who have built their own empire from absolutely nothing, that is the equivalent of Neville in the football world. He worked his socks off and willed himself to become the best right back in England for the best part of a decade. A great professional and a model of consistency. Also great going forward with a superb cross.
Rio Ferdinand – Not endeared by all United fans due to his contract dispute back in 2005, but he’s the classiest centre back Ferguson has had. His pace (up until last couple of years) was frightening when he got going, and his positioning awareness and his ability to read the game was a joy to watch.
Jaap Stam – Jip Japp Stam the big Dutch man. Stam offered the best of both worlds. The complete centre half. Built like a brick shithouse, yet still smart enough to read the game as if he had written the script himself. With the pace of a sprinter, he was loved at Old Trafford like a one club man, despite only being there for three seasons.
Ryan Giggs – Giggsy has been tearing defenders apart for 22 years of Ferguson’s reign. A trophy collection that comes close to matching that of the manager is astonishing. Not the most consistent player ever, but at his best was spectacularly unplayable, and has a collection of magnificent performances on big European nights at the Theatre of Dreams. Only 2 of Ferguson’s trophies have come without Giggs in the squad.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Ronaldo would get in my world dream team and my all time greatest team. One of the best players to ever grace the game. Started as a fantasy footballer with all the dizzy stopovers, flicks and tricks, as if he was playing in a playground, but morphed in to the complete Fantasy Footballer; a goals and assist machine. He carried Man United for 3 years and won everything a player could win (both individually and as a team), before making a record breaking £80m move to Real Madrid. The fans still sing his name at every home game, which speaks volumes for what he did for the club.
Paul Scholes – If you type in Scholes tributes in to google, and see the magnitude of the people who speak so highly of him, it goes to show what a massively respected player he is/was. At his peak, he was a mixture of three midfielders in one; a tough tackling bruiser, the best playmaker I’ve seen and a phenomenal box to box goalscorer. With a more glamorous personality and life style (I’ve never seen him do an interview), he would without a doubt have been considered one of the greatest players in history.
Roy Keane – Captain marvel, the most influential player of his generation. When Keano wasn’t around, the flair players looked lost. The driving force of the team in the 90’s and early 00’s, he was Ferguson’s manager on the pitch. An underrated player with great passing and in his early days, great at arriving in the box at the perfect time for goals.
Eric Cantona – Eric The King. The man who started the Fergie dominance of English football. Cantona catalysed two generations of United teams with his imagination, swagger and devotion to the club. When he arrived from Leeds, United had not won the title in 25 years; in his five years at the club, they won four. Legend.
Ruud van Nistelrooy – Probably the best out and out goalscorer the Premiership has seen. 110 goals in his first three seasons, before injury and a fall out with Ferguson, says everything you need to know about his abilities. A class act.