BBC BLOGS - Dan Walker
« Previous | Main | Next »

Fergie's best XI: The defence

Post categories:

Dan Walker | 11:35 UK time, Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Well. That's another season over. Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has read the blogs, sent e-mails, tweets and letters, plus, most importantly, watched Football Focus. We've had our best audiences in a decade and we have been trying to push the boundaries of what has always been a great show.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

Football Focus bids farewell to London

We are already planning bigger and better things ahead of our move to Salford and will hopefully get you lot a bit more involved next season as well.

Alastair Campbell will be Salford-bound to collect his Premier League predictions title after defeating Lord Sugar 5-4 in a play-off on a nervy Sunday afternoon.

Roman Pavlyuchenko's last-minute winner gave Lord Sugar a vital correct score and three points. But then Arsenal's Theo Walcott spoiled his dreams with an equaliser against Fulham. The goal denied Lord Sugar another correct score, handing victory to Campbell, the former Labour spin doctor.

As for Saturday, I'm still recovering from the sight of Alan Shearer's wax figure. Mark Lawrenson was seriously spooked, too. I have to admit that it was slightly disturbing when the guys from Madame Tussauds in Blackpool arrived with a body bag and a box with the words "Alan Shearer's Head" written on it!

I'm sure the real Mr Shearer will be making an appearance in Salford next season but we thought we'd finish off the current campaign by asking regular Focus pundits Lawro and Lee Dixon to pick their best Manchester United side under Sir Alex Ferguson.

We've filmed their picks in three sections - defence, midfield and attack - and want you to contribute to some fruity debate.

As Lawro said recently, Sir Alex has built five or six different teams at Old Trafford since 1986. He has bought some stinkers along the way, like Taibi, Djemba-Djemba, Kleberson etc, but you must admit he's also constructed some impressive sides, too.

Lawro and Dixon both opted for Peter Schmeichel ahead of Edwin Van der Sar in goal but they were at odds when it came to the centre-halves. Did they go for Pallister, Bruce, Vidic or Ferdinand? Find out by watching part one below. Parts two and three will appear here on Wednesday and Thursday, so stay tuned.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

As long as I'm here, the blog will return next season. In the meantime, you can follow me over the summer on Twitter at I'll also see you next on the telly at the Open at Sandwich in July.

Thanks again for all your support, questions and comments - both positive and negative - over the season. The point of these blogs, the behind-the-scenes videos, Focus Forum, Friday Focus and Twitter is to try to get you a little closer to the programme. Hopefully we've managed to achieve that in some small measure.

See you in Salford.


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Good work this season Dan. Thoroughly enjoyed your input and looking forward to more of the same next season.

    All the best

    Sebastian Schweinsteiger

  • Comment number 2.

    I have just watched it in work hoping a video would appear of the choices by view, unfortunately the sound was unable to be turned on...

    Exactly who did Larwo and Dixon pick as their best?

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Dan,

    Followed the blog all season and it's been a joy to read. Long may it continue!

    All the best,

    Neil Buchanan

  • Comment number 4.

    Fantastic season from the whole Football Focus team. Especially to yourself Dan as in my mind the show has been reinvigorated over the past 12 months and long may that continue.

    I am in no doubt that the move to Salford will be a great success.

    Lastly, just an idea but any possibility for us fans to also take part in the predictions against Lawro and the chosen celebrity each week with the winning fan (ie. the highest score) at the end of the season win the opportunity to be a BBC pundit for the day?!

  • Comment number 5.

    Schmeichel, Irwin, Stam, Vidic, Evra

    I remember Irwin usually played LB but I also remember he was mainly Right footed so I am sticking him at RB..

    Cheers Dan.. its been another enjoyable season.. I challenge you to spend pre-season coming up with another

    1, Travelling food
    2, Mix and match food (ie chicken and peanut butter sandwiches)

    Macho Man Randy Savage.

  • Comment number 6.


    Congrats on a fine season. Being able to watch FF on the web has made a world of difference and the show seems utterly rejuvenated.

    Nice to see Gary Neville getting some plaudits from Lee. Could you let your colleague Will Perry know, as he doesn't seem to rate him (odd from a city fan...)!

    Best of luck for the to Salford.

  • Comment number 7.


    berg, johnson, may, p.nev

    poborsky,djemba-djemba, kleberson,blomqvist

    cruyff, manucho

    ledgends 'R' us

  • Comment number 8.

    @7. handofjohnson

    Even that team contains 4 Champions League winners.

  • Comment number 9.


    you could've picked a better 'bad' back 4; unless I'm mistaken all of them have Champion's League medals (though May didn't make it onto the pitch), and multiple Premier League and FA Cup medals.

  • Comment number 10.

    Could you not find a spot for Seba Veron in there too?

    On a more serious note:
    GK - Schmeichel (VdS also very good, but Schmeichel set the standards)
    RB - Gary Neville. Can't really be anyone else because he's been there for most of Fergie's successful seasons
    LB - Dennis Irwin. Just so consistent
    CB - Vidic and Stam. Been an area of great strength with Pallister and Bruce, plus Rio, but for me those two were/are the outstanding two.

    RM - Ronaldo
    CM - Roy Keane
    CM - Paul Scholes
    LM - Ryan Giggs

    For me that gives a great combination of aggression, running, technique and goal threats. Probably put Beckham on the bench to cover all but LM.

    F - Eric Cantona
    CF - Van Nistelrooy.

    Again, a combination of a great technical player and a natural goal scorer. Rooney might make the bench.

    Interestingly, the above only includes 2 players in the current strongest starting XI, with the majority being the players of the mid to late 90s.

  • Comment number 11.

    great season Dan, great job with the online blog - a mixture of written and video blogs!

    theres been some class players under Sir Alex, this would be my team-

    Van nistelrooy (rooney maybe..if he scores on saturday!)

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm meant to be working (like many I'm sure) so had to watch the video with the sound off! Would anyone be so kind as to tell me who the selection was? :)

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    Anyone who thinks Vidic has been a better player for Man United than Rio Ferdinand knows didly squat about the game. Sorry.

  • Comment number 15.

    Schmeichel, Neville, Ferdinand, Stam, Irwin, Ronaldo, Keane, Scholes, Giggs, Cantona, Van Nistelrooy for me. Vidic, Beckham and Rooney the unluckiest to miss out.

    Taibi, Phelan, Prunier, Silvestre, Fortune, Obertan, Miller, Djemba, Bebe, Manucho, Dong

    Great blog and show Dan!

  • Comment number 16.

    Very difficult decision, here is the best squad...

    Neville Stam Vidic Evra
    Ronaldo Scholes Keane Giggs
    Cantona Van Nistelrooy

    Van der Sar

  • Comment number 17.

    @ 8

    I think it contains 5 Champions League Winners.

    Berg wasnt in the squad but got a medal. Im such a dork.

  • Comment number 18.

    My best UTD side of recent history has to be as follows:


    No comparision it would beat all that faced them !

  • Comment number 19.




    Van Nistelrooy

    SUBS: Van Der Sar, Stam, Irwin, Robson, Beckham, Cantona, Cole

  • Comment number 20.

    I should preface this by saying only really followed football sine 1998


    Gary Neville (pains me to say it as I hate him)
    Rio Ferdinand
    Nemanja Vidić
    Denis Irwin

    Cristiano Ronaldo
    Roy Keane
    Paul Scholes
    Ryan Giggs

    Wayne Rooney
    Rudd Van Nistlerooy


    Edwin Van Der Sar
    Patrice Evra
    Jaap Stam
    David Beckham
    Park Ji Sung
    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
    Andy Cole

  • Comment number 21.

    Ferdinand is Ferguson's best central defender

  • Comment number 22.

    David Bellion, Jonathan Greening, Luke Chadwick - any takers?

    More seriously, I'm beginning to see a pattern emerge, Schmeichel, Giggs, Scholes, Ronaldo, Keane all dead certainties. Can't disagree

    Front line seems to be a choice between Cantona, Van Nistelrooy and Rooney. Rooney out for me.

    Defense most open to debate, I'd take Ferdinand and Stam at centre back, Irwin at left back and G Neville at right back even though I don't rate him as highly as many people do (anybody remember the match against Vasco da Gama?). United have always had the luxury of being able to field right and left backs that weren't up to scratch in comparison to the strength of the rest of the squad (Silvestre being a prime recent example) because Ferguson has regularly had a rock solid centre back pairing. Neville was the best of his right backs for me.

    If it matters at all I'm not actually a Man Utd fan

  • Comment number 23.

    Shouldnt this homage to Man Utd be on MUFCTV rather than slathered all over the BBC website? Its bad enough with the Man Utd supporting Sky newspapers constantly ramming their team down our throats, but now the BBC have surpassed them by moving studios to be closer to their heros.

  • Comment number 24.

    United's best team of Ferguson's era was the treble team of '99, the midfielders they had at that time were amazing. Keane, Scholes, Beckham and Giggs all at or near to their peak. Nicky Butt was the reserve CM that season and he would play every week if he were at United now, and of course the four strikers of that year were full of goals.

    GK -Schmeichel - best GK the Prem has seen, I remember watching that FA cup semi where he saved that pen from Bergkamp as a 7 year old kid, incredible presence and leadership
    RB -G Neville - most disliked man in English football, but not many criticise his playing performances
    CB - Stam- Immense player, like Vidic but better
    CB - Ferdinand - 10 times the player John Terry is, shame he's so injury prone
    LB - Irwin - very dependable, incredible he was right footed but played so well on the left
    RM - Ronaldo - I really wanted to put Beckham in for nostalgic reasons but Ronaldo was incredible before he went, can't really leave him out
    CM - Keane - I miss watching his matchups with Vieira, two outstanding centre midfielders
    CM - Scholes - Best passer of a ball in the Prem even now
    LM - Giggs - Has to be the most outstanding player the Prem has ever seen surely?
    CF - Cantona - he retired the year before I started watching football, but you can tell from footage what a talisman he was
    ST- Van Nistelrooy - what a finisher, in the top five natural goalscorers in Prem history alongside Shearer, Fowler and Solskjaer

  • Comment number 25.

    UTD's best team ever were the busbe babes every utd supporter will tell you that.

  • Comment number 26.

    ------------Van Nistelrooy----

  • Comment number 27.

    All time Fergie XI

    GK: Schmiechal
    RB: G Neville
    CB: Vidic
    CB: Stam
    LB: Irwin
    RM: Ronaldo
    CM: Keane(captain)
    CM: Scholes
    LM: Giggs
    ST: Cantona
    ST: Rooney

    Subs: Van de Saar, Pallister, Beckham, Robson, van Nistelrooy

  • Comment number 28.

    Schmeichal, Irwin, Stam, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Keane, Scholes, Giggs ,Cantona ,Rooney


    Taibi, May, Prunier, Donaghy, Phelan, Obertan, Keleberson, Djemba Djemba, Milne Bellion,Bebe

  • Comment number 29.


    I never like to side with "Lord Sugar" but surely he won the Predictions competition?? 7-4 by my reckoning, he got the Fulham and Spurs results spot on??



  • Comment number 30.


    G.Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Irwin (though the defence has to me the most hotly debated with Pallister, Bruce, Stam and Evra easily could make it).

    I think the midfield picks itself with Ronaldo, Keane, Scholes, Giggs.

    Then I'd go for Cantona and Van Nistelrooy upfront cos though I think Rooney is a better player than Ruud was, you need an out and out goalscorer.

  • Comment number 31.

    my best goal keepers are van der sar and shmekial ?!!! best defenders are Neville and Evra. great all rounders. will miss neville and van der sar very much. hope Fergi gets some mroe great players that will become legends like these two are xxx

  • Comment number 32.

    Gk = Schmeichel
    Back 4 = GNeville-Ferdinand-Vidic-Evra
    Mid 4= Ronaldo-Scholes-Keane-Giggs
    Str 2= VNistelrooy-Cantona

    Bench= VDS-Becks-Stam-Rooney-Cole-Solskjaer-McClair

  • Comment number 33.

    Surprised so many would pick van Nistelrooy. He's the player I always thought we needed (ie best finisher in Ferguson's era, incredible scoring record), but actually when we had him we won very little. In 5 years we won 1 Premier League, 1 FA Cup and 1 League Cup. Not only down to him but I think the reason is because everything went through him, and we were too predictable and easy to stop. Our best teams have been when we have lots of options and multiple threats, eg 1999 with Yorke, Cole, Sheringham, Solskjaer, Giggs, Scholes and Beckham. Or 2008 with Rooney, Ronaldo, Tevez, Scholes, Giggs.

    I might get shot for saying this but I sometimes think Cantona is overrated. He was a great player but only played 5 years for United and missed half a season of that. Then he retired at 31. I feel he could have given more and maybe didn't play long enough to be considered one of our greatest.

    For what it's worth, I would go with:


    Honorable mentions (eg very good reserve team!):

    Van Der Sar
    Van Nistelrooy

    And still no room for heroes like Solskjaer, Yorke, Cole and Sheringham from the treble winning season!

  • Comment number 34.

    "He has bought some stinkers along the way, like Taibi, Djemba-Djemba, Kleberson etc"

    Would that be the same Kleberson who when bought was the captain of the reigning world champions, with a WC winners medal to his name? The one who picked up an injury very early in his Utd career from which he never returned as the same player? I'm pretty sure it's the same guy, but hey, why let facts stand in the way!

    When bought he was good buy, it didn't turn out, but that is not fault of Fergie, you have a point with the others but as with most hacks you ruin it by going too far.

  • Comment number 35.

    Surely William Prunier must have been close.

    Rowdy Roddy Piper

  • Comment number 36.


    That my pick so far. Evra could displace Irwin if he wins a few more trophies but at the moment it's Irwin. Ferdinand has already done enough. Stam was a legend and was sold atleast 3 seasons too early due to SFA stubbornness. Cost him and Man U a couple of Chapms league titles in doing so.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    Well Salford is the centre of the football universe!

  • Comment number 39.

    "7. At 13:47 24th May 2011, handofjohnson wrote:

    berg, johnson, may, p.nev

    poborsky,djemba-djemba, kleberson,blomqvist

    cruyff, manucho

    ledgends 'R' us

    Johnsen was quality. He was just a little injury prone. And as mention there were four treble winners in that team.

    My pick fwiw

    VDS (yep over Schmikes)

    Irwin (RB)



  • Comment number 40.

    Johnsen and Blomqvist making some of the 'worst' teams!
    Giv ova! Treble winners the pair of them!
    And played an integral part as well. Both were never the same again after injuries.

  • Comment number 41.

    Schmeichel - greatest i've seen

    G Neville - not much to choose from - paul parker of rafael the only other regular first team RBs in SAF's time.

    Ferdinand - from Cannavaro lifting the World Cup to his injury probs Rio was the best central defender in the world.

    Stam - absolutely immense and only replaced 5 years later by Vidic - when we became winners again.

    Irwin - everyone uses the word 'consistent' - distracts away from the fact that he could tackle, mark, pass, shoot - with both feet! Penalty taker too - quality.

    Beckham - some of the younger Utd fans - or more nationalistic ones seem to have forgotten how good he was for us - did so much more than cross.

    Keane - nuff said.

    Scholes - Ince and Robson were great but Scholes gets the nod for longevity and reinventing his game to keep the likes of Veron out of the team.

    Giggs - who else? Lee Sharpe? Jesper Blomqvist? Quinton Fortune?

    Ronaldo - everyone knows about the skill - what I think is amazing about Ronaldo is his power, pace, athletisism, aerial ability - incredible.

    Rooney - can't have Ronaldo and Eric in the same team! Whatever his critics say Wayne is fantastic - one of the top 5 in the world for the last 5 years I'd say.

    Need a bench! VDS, Vidic, Pallister, Ince, Kanchelskis, Hughes, Cantona

  • Comment number 42.


    Beckham. Awesome. Loved the club. Showed it every time he played.

    Ince. Was there from the start. Helped build the foundations. Keane walked into an already successful team. But ince did the hard work first.

    Scholes. No comment needed.

    Giggs. See above.

  • Comment number 43.

    Different article, but just thought I'd point out that the Euro 96 final is missing from the "Uefa Finals" photos

  • Comment number 44.

    Fergies best team ever, easy question





    Sub: Hewitt

    That is a team that knows how to beat spanish opposition in a European final.

  • Comment number 45.

    don't worry no. 20, by my reckoning you out qualify more than 2 thirds of man u fans. most people didnt know what football was before sky, then all of a sudden everyone became an expert.
    as you can see from the comments, fergie picked many a dud, but of course most of that his hidden behind favorable refereeing decisions over the course of 20 yrs.
    funny to see a man u blog picking up so much pace when theyre playing down the rd for an old so called great at the same time!
    what makes me laugh is the 2 players that had most impact on the club - kanchelskis and sharp - not even mentioned. they got the ball rolling so to speak, but thats too far back for most.
    and the mention of champs league medals - o shea, fletcher etc have medals - do you think a single person outside surrey thinks theyre europes best. teams win medals, not people, manu has always been greater than the sum of their parts. hats off to fergie, he knows how to motivate, but make no mistake, he also manages to pick some duds.

  • Comment number 46.

    One thing I do find interesting is in all the worst teams it seems quite hard to find defenders for there. Looks like Sir Alex really can pick the defenders

    A first Fergie-XI is really tough so would prefer to give a 25man squad but will include first XI

    Goalie - Schmeichel (I think he would take All time Premier League goalie spot)
    RB - Gary Neville
    CB - Vidic
    CB - Ferdinand (I just think that Ferdinand at his best complements Vidic more than Stam)
    LB - Irwin
    RM - Ronaldo
    CM - Keane
    CM - Scholes
    LM - Giggs
    CF - Cantona
    CF - Van Nistleroy

    Van Der Saar
    Rafael (not yet world class but given how long Neville dominated it's hard to find any others for RB)
    Fletcher (rate him as better than Butt in DM and Hargreaves was too injured to justify including)
    Kanchelskis (struggling to find left sided midfielders but could switch Ronaldo to left if Gigg's was out)
    A. Cole
    Barthez (probably the best of the rest in terms of goalies)

    I think that squad could win a few medals over the course of a season. Though I might consider dropping the 3rd goalie for an additional central midfielder (McClair) to give some cover there

  • Comment number 47.

    Best Fergie XI?

    Look no further than this team...

    Jim Leighton
    Doug Rougvie
    John McMaster
    Neale Cooper
    Alex McLeish
    Willie Miller (captain)
    Gordon Strachan
    Neil Simpson
    Mark McGhee
    Eric Black
    Peter Weir

  • Comment number 48.

    no doubting utd are a great team but ahead of the CL final ive listed the greatest barca team. now dont hound me if i get a couple of players wrong because i dont know many dating too fra back but tehy ahve got enough from the past 10-15 years or slightly further back to make a great team.

    Keeper: I have no idea and I'm not going to say Valdes because even though he's improved from a few years back he still isn't that good.

    RB: Puyol, rock solid club captain and where's his heart on his sleave. He's not at CB because as you will see there's are 2 others there.

    CB: Koeman and Pique. Koeman had great free-kicks which is a bonus and pique imo and probs many others is right now the best ball playing CB.

    LB: Gio Van Bronckhorst

    Now i dont know many defensive midfielders for barca so I've also changed the midfield to accomodate another absolute legend of the game up front

    CM: Xavi, he plays deeper for spain compared to Barca so I'm gonna put him in a deeper position

    CM: Iniesta, who better to support xavi than his partner in crime Andres, these 2 keep the ball so unbeleivably well and he will slot in just there.

    CAM: Ronaldinho: The greatest show-boater ever the tricks were so mesmerising so entertaining so watchable (unlike Mr C.Ronaldo who does it on the spot and doesn;t beat players with tricks) even though it wasn't for so long.

    LM/LF: Figo even though in his prime he played mainly on the right ive put him on the left. he was a great crosser of the ball could beat his man and lay it on a plate for the forward.

    RF: Messi. The reason why figo was on the left is so the greatest player of this generation messi is on the right (not sure if this generation is different to Zidane's time and he isn't better than Zidane) he can beat players slip in othe rplayers with clever passes.

    CF: Eto'o, such a great goals-corer as his record proves and scored in both of the CL finals he plaued in.

    need a subs bench so

    GK: Valdes
    One of the de boer brothers not 2 sure which 1.

    Not 2 sure where stoichkov played so didnt put him in the team.

  • Comment number 49.

    GK-Peter Schmeichel
    RB-Gary or Phil Neville
    CB-Jaap Stam
    CB-Nemanja Vidic
    LB-Denis Irwin
    RM-Cristiano Ronaldo
    CM-Paul Ince
    CM-Paul Scholes
    LM-Ryan Giggs
    CF-Eric Cantona(C)
    ST-Ruud van Nistelrooy

    Subs: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
    Mark Hughes
    David Beckham
    Roy Keane
    Laurent Blanc
    Patrice Evra
    Edwin Van der Sar

  • Comment number 50.

    GK - Schmeichel. - easy, best keeper ever

    Ferdinand (pallister very close)


    Robson - best midfielder ever ( can't believe Keane is getting the vote over him)

    Van Nistlerooy

    Worth a mention


  • Comment number 51.

    oh and ive forgotten 2 put big ronaldo the brzillian one in the barca team or bench whatever.

  • Comment number 52.

    To Luckdictatesfootball (#45)

    If only I had got there sooner!
    Yes there were (a lot of) players who got the ball rolling for us who have not been mentioned but that is because most are naming a first XI and we have seen some excellent players play for Manchester United. Sharpe and Kanchelskis will fall behind because of the shear amount of trophies that the others being mentioned have one and the quality of the players being put in front of them. I would also dispute that these two had the most impact on the club in the early years. The most influence in the early years clearly goes to Cantona (his arrival transformed the performances in the first title year)

    Give any manager 25 years and they are bound to pick up a significant number of duds in the transfer market. I think though we can say that most of them work out pretty well.

  • Comment number 53.

    Difficult to see past the 1999 team. They had the best combination of style, power, and mental focus to prevai;l against any side and also in both the European Cup and FA cup had to beat the best sides in each competition. And not forgetting the best Arsenal side I can remember, who were everything United were at that time.

    so the team would be


    G Neville Johnsen Stam Irwin

    Beckham scholes Keane Giggs

    Yorke and Cole

    Subs or 2nd team


    P Neville Ferdinand Vidic Evra

    Valencia Robson Whiteside (played under Fergie) Ronaldo

    Cantona and R van Nistelrooy

    too many to mention inc some in saturdays squad.

    HAve a good summer Dan

  • Comment number 54.

    should be "have won" and not "have one"


    What happened? how come I have to wait 3 minutes now?

  • Comment number 55.

    Terry Cooke, John O'Kane, Christopher Martin "Chris" Casper (captain, obviously), Ben Thornley, Pat McGibbon, Ralph Milne etc, etc.

  • Comment number 56.

    What does Fergie think. Does anyone know.

    If this team wins on Sat, then one would have to pick a lot of current players as they would have won the CL twice and PL 4 times. Nothing succeeds like success!

  • Comment number 57.

    I agree that Football Focus is a lot better now, Congrats Dan. Here's my attempt at picking a first team for Utd since Fergie started. I'm also going to pick a 2nd as its a close call.. First is 3-4-3 Second is 4-3-3. (which one would win)





    G. Neville


    Van Der Sar




    Van Nistelrooy

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    Agree with number 52 on players getting overlooked.

    @45. You'd be hard pressed to find a United fan who says, hand on heart, that O'Shea and Fletcher are among the world's best (outside of anonymous blogs from those on the wind-up, and Surrey, evidently). However, when players who did really well for the club and played important roles in winning titles get labelled 'duds', then yes, most who were there and watched them will defend them. Teams win matches and sometimes there's a stand-out performer; sometimes that performer is a less stellar name. As for Kanchelskis and Sharpe, they were good, sure, but I know who I'd take if offered Giggs in exchange!

  • Comment number 60.

    Having been to Utd for all of Fergie's years (unlike many who post here), I simply shake my head when people forget about probably Man Utd's best midfielder over the past 30 years, Bryan Robson.

    My team

    1. Peter Schmiechel - Quite simply the best goalkeeper of a generation and the man whose new techniques are copied by the best goalkeepers of the modern era

    2. Gary Neville - we haven't really had another right back, Viv Anderson really isn't much competition for him. And he hates Scousers

    3. Patrice Evra - Denis Irwin was Mr Reliable, a super player, but Evra has/had pace, balance, strength and a great hunger to win.

    4. Rio Ferdinand - A Rolls Royce who makes those around him look good. For a season he made Mikael Silvestre look a half decent central defender. Oozes class.

    5. Nemo Vidic - it's about partnerships. Bruce/Pally were great, Jaap Stam would have easily done as good if not a better job alongside Rio .... but Vidic has done it for a number of seasons and seems to get better and better.

    6 (CM) Roy Keane - Animal

    7 (CM) Bryan Robson - Box to Box, Captain fantastic

    8 (RM) Ronaldo - World Player of the year, goal machine, best attacking player of a generation, and most exciting player I've seen at Old Trafford in 30 years. Can and did win games on his own

    9 (CF) King Eric - Catalyst to all the success, inspired the team and was always 2 steps ahead of the opposition

    10. CF Wayne Rooney - with Ronaldo and Eric in the team, you need a grafter who has more than his fair share of class.

    11. (LM) Ryan Giggs. If Lee Sharpe wasn't a one season wonder, maybe Giggsy would have had some competition


    GK Edwin Van Der Saar
    RB/LB Denis Irwin
    CB Jaap Stam
    CM Paul Scholes
    LM Nani
    RM Kanchelskis
    CF Hughes
    CF Yorke
    CF Cole

  • Comment number 61.

    Looking forward to next season's FF! I am in France and it's great to have the blog and online clips to catch interviews and analysis. I particularly enjoyed your interviews with Benitez this year.

    Cheers Dan!

  • Comment number 62.

    And finally my two forwards-

    Cantona - legend!!

    Ronaldo playing slightly off him.

    Ruud v Nis was close. For all his goals he only won the league once and fa cup once.
    Hughes was a favourite of mine. But we can't pick everyone which is whatakea this so hard.

    So to re- cap







    Worth a mention

    Les Sealey

  • Comment number 63.


    G Neville




  • Comment number 64.


    I hear ya but.....

    SAF arrived in Nov 1986. By the tome he had re- built the squad in 1990 Robson was on his way down. Injury prone and the wrong side of 30. Don't get me wrong, he's a Man U legend. But SAF didn't see the best of him. And when Man U finally won the prem in 93 it was with a midfield pairing if Ince and McClair and Robson missed a huge chunk of the season through injury. Then left to player manage Middlebourgh shortly afterwards. This may have influenced many peoples team selection.

  • Comment number 65.

    If we consider their best season and their ability to play with each other (in order of importance):
    RM - Ronaldo 08 (simply the best football ever player in England)
    CM - Keane 99 (gets 10% extra out of every player he plays with, thats a whole extra player)
    GK - Schmeichel 93 (no one comes near)
    FD - Rooney 10 (anyone who picks Van Nistelrooy or Cantona on the same team as Ronaldo knows nothing about football, Rooney makes it because he will do what Alex tells him he needs to do to win)
    CD - Vidic 11 (since 07 MU have been a cut above all previous, and the rock of this team is Vidic. maybe not as quotable than Keane, but you could argue more effective)
    CD - Ferdinand 09 (for his ability to complement Vidic)
    CM - Scholes
    LM - Giggs
    LB - Evra
    RB - Irwin
    FD - Sheringham 01 (any opposing team comes up with a plan to stop Ronanlo and Rooney, name another player who could spot it early and start popping up in subsequent holes)

  • Comment number 66.

    I boo-booed earlier. My midfield pairing should be Ince and Scholes. And not Keane like I stated un my re-cap.

    Sorry for the confusion.

    (not that anybody seems to care)

  • Comment number 67.

    @TangoRuffian Ronaldo 08 (simply the best football ever player in England)

    I think you are forgetting about a certain Theirry Henry who was much better and fairer and devastating against big teams than Ron ever was or will be for that matter.

  • Comment number 68.

    you guys have forgotten the main man the 12th man howard webb along with few other referees

  • Comment number 69.

    Why was Stam not even mentioned by the pundits?

    I disagree about the 'partnerships' thing they mentioned as it is a theoretical question that surely means mixing and matching all the best individuals to make the best theoretical team.

  • Comment number 70.

    I have only been watching football since the start of the 99 season so have not included players before then (with the one exception of cantona whose legendary status at united speaks for itself).

    GK- Schmeichel
    DR- G. Neville
    CB- Ferdinand
    CB- Vidic
    LB- Irwin
    MR- Ronaldo
    MC- Scholes
    MC- Keane
    ML- Giggs
    CF- Cantona
    CF- Ruud Van Nistelrooy

    A 7 man sub bench would be
    O'Shea (may not be the most talented but a key squad player who can play anywhere in the back 4 and hold midfield)
    Fletcher (for similar reasons to O'Shea)

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    Ferguson sure knows how to break British transfer records for good players.

  • Comment number 73.

    Image Stam and Vidic at the back!

  • Comment number 74.

    I can’t believe no one has even mentioned George Best. Remember that guy that led you to the European victory in 1968, scoring in the final and being voted European Footballer of the Year.

    Does that name ring a bell to any fair weathered United fans.

    Unbelievable, one of the greatest, most talismanic and talented footabller ever having to have his caused championed to “United fans” by a Chelsea fan.(Although I am sure those inverted commas will come back to haunt me given I am a Chelsea fan.)

  • Comment number 75.

    Appologies I am an idiot and didn’t read the title.

    Come on mediator where were you on that one.

  • Comment number 76.

    Is Barcelona the best team in the World? It is the only team in the World to have won ALL six available titles in a year? Isn´t this apart from the way they play enough to qualify them as the Best Team Ever? Well, IFFHS think so.

  • Comment number 77.


    That's true, yes.
    But, what's your point?

  • Comment number 78.

    No-one should be bothered cause this is now and not the past. Come on the wolves. No matter what team we played we beat u 2-1. Lol lol. One nil down, two one up!

  • Comment number 79.

    Not sure why my post was banned. Anywho, my picks:

    Schmeichel, Neville, Ferdinand, Stam, Irwin, Ronaldo, Robson, Scholes, Giggs, Rooney, Van Nistlerooy

    Reserves: VDS, Parker, Bruce, Pallister, Evra, Beckham, Keane, McClair, Kanchelskis, Cantona, Solksjaer

    Two top notch teams. Toughest decisions were Evra / Irwin and Robson / Keane. Chose Ferdinand as he is arguably the classiest (in footballing terms only) defender we've had, and Stam was more solid than Vidic and without the rashness. Honourable mentions: Blackmore, Vidic, Hughes, Butt, Sharpe. In time Chicharito and the Da Silvas could fight for a place in the side no doubt.

  • Comment number 80.

    Didn't see #60. Hear hear, I'd wondered why Robbo wasn't in more lists.

  • Comment number 81.

    @7: as I understand it, only one of them (Ronnie Jonhsen) actually played all 90 minutes of a CL final - Blomquist only played 60 mins or so, the rest were all subs who didn't play or didn't even make the subs bench for the final.

    So much for CL winners medals being an indication of how good player is!

    Roy Keane = 0 EC winners medals
    Steven McManaman = 2 EC winners medals

    Therefore Steven McManaman > Roy Keane?

    Discuss :)

  • Comment number 82.

    @76: I believe Jock Stein's Celtic got there first in 1967 - it won every competition it entered.

    Are Barca the best team in the world? Yes, at the moment. Would they have beaten Liverpool of the 80's or AC Milan late 80s or Ajax early 70's? Almost certainly not.

  • Comment number 83.

    Purely from the neutral's view:

    GK- Schmeichel
    DR- G. Neville (much as it pains me to say it...)
    CB- Stam
    CB- Pallister
    LB- Irwin

    MR- Ronaldo
    MC- Robson
    MC- Keane
    ML- Giggs

    ST- Rooney
    ST- Van Nistelrooy

    5 man sub bench would be


    No room for Cantona, who is probably the most overrated footballer to have played in the Premier League - a player who never displayed his talent at an international level, never showed up for big European games (a criticism that can be levelled at Ronaldo incidentally) and who was very lucky to be playing for a good team under a great manager.

  • Comment number 84.

    # 34 behave... he was awful for Utd so is therefore a bad buy... it doesn't matter what he had done before he came and didn't kick a ball for you.

    Someone mentioned above that whoever picks Vidic before Rio doesn't know anything about football.. I picked him before Rio because I think he is a better center half.. gets in among the goals too.. and him and Stam would frighten the life out of any attacker.

  • Comment number 85.

    Some above just mentioned Paul McGrath... how did I overlook him??

    Just to amend my back 4 selection:

    DR- G. Neville (much as it pains me to say it...)
    CB- Stam
    CB- McGrath
    LB- Irwin

  • Comment number 86.

    GK: Massimo Taibi
    RB: David May
    CB: William Prunier
    CB: Laurent Blanc
    LB: Quinton Fortune

    RM: Jordi Cruyff
    CM: Kleberson
    CM: Djemba-Djemba
    LM: Ralph Milne

    CF: David Bellion
    CF: Diego Forlan / Jerzy Dudek.

    Never got one wrong that Ferguson....

  • Comment number 87.

    Cantona? Overrated?

    When signed he was the final piece of the jicksaw.
    Won medals and trophies.
    Voted player of the season by his fellow peers and journalist as well.
    Rated very highly by experts within the game.

    McManaman fitted right into Madrid and Spanish football. Suited his game perfectly.
    Having a champs league winners medal is not an east thing to cone by. Ask Ars and Chels players and fans.

    Getting your hands on one when being part of a team, squad, club when it wins one should be seen as an achievement.

  • Comment number 88.

    @87: "Having a champs league winners medal is not an east thing to cone by."

    Ask Harry Kewell :)

  • Comment number 89.

    @86 Ando

    What was wrong with Lauren Blanc?

    And Jerzy Dudek!
    I think you've got him mixed up with another player.
    He was a keeper for Liverpool and Poland.

  • Comment number 90.


    He was a good player. Would have achieved more for Liverpool if it wasn't for injuries.

  • Comment number 91.

    @90: but using CL winners medals as a mark of a quality player simply doesn't work.

    Kewell > Keane?

    I suspect even the most rabid Leeds or Liverpool fans would take Roy every day of the week.

    It's just a rebuttal of @7 where they were saying that if they had CL medals, it made them good purchases/players. It doesn't.

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 64 Robbo left in 1994, Fergie arrived in 1986..... through the dark days of the late 80's, Robbo, despite his injuries was a one man team. He would walk through a brick wall for Utd - pace, power, heading ability, a sweet left foot, goals galore ... crunching tackles ..... Roy Keane, as great a player as he was, couldn't touch Robbo

    As Utd were as close to a one man team with Ronaldo, we were a one man team in the 80's with Robbo - I'm sure most people who watched us through the 80's would agree - he was that good.

    I also agree with some posts I read about Ince, great player in a great team in the early 90's, but it's hard to justify his inclusion above Keane.

    Ruud Van Nistelrooy aka Ruud Van Goalhanger. He had one exceptional season, but it's painfully obvious we were a better team without him. The stats prove it. The year after he left we went on to win the league 3 times, Champions league finals/wins .... before him we were more successful too. Not a team player - wouldn't even get in my top 5 Man Utd strikers I've seen.

    @ 85 Paul McGrath, superbly talented, but didn't play for Utd for long enough - on that basis, Lee Sharpe's amazing season in 1991 or Andrei Kancheslskis/1994 would have him above Giggsy's 20 years of consistency

  • Comment number 93.

    @Ravi Patel
    You're in denial, mate. Everyone knows Keane was a class above Robson. I've never read such rose-tinted garbage as post number 92.

    United's best XI is:
    GK: Schmeichel
    RB: G Neville
    CB: Vidic
    CB: Stam
    LB: Evra
    RM: Ronaldo
    CM: Keane (captain)
    CM: Scholes
    LM: Giggs
    ST: Cantona
    ST: Rooney

  • Comment number 94.


    Ignore the Champions League medals then if it suits, because it's true that some players end up with medals having sat on the bench all season. David May was signed as a stop-gap squad player, yet still ended up playing a full title-winning season before better players took his place. Berg was a regular and a league winner before '99, when he still played well when needed until he got injured, thus missing the final. Johnsen needs no explaining, and neither does Phil Neville.

    None of them are in any danger of being named in best elevens, but they were all good players. Champions League winners or not. Steve McManaman was a bloody good player too!

  • Comment number 95.

    @92 Good comments on Robson, if ManU had him in his prime with Keane (who I always though was better going forward in the early Ince/Keane days than just as a defensive midfielder, where Ferguson usually played him) they'd have been unstoppable.

    I think Van Nistelrooy was unlucky to be the main striker whilst Ferguson was rebuilding the side - he came in whilst Ferguson was still looking for a replacement for Schmeichel and as Stam left, and it took ManU several years to produce a decent defense. I thought Van Nistelrooy was the right striker at the wrong time.

    Also, McGrath, possibly the best CB ManU have ever had? Played under Ferguson for 3 years (1986-89), so he makes my best Ferguson team for that period. A fit McGrath and Stam... wow.

  • Comment number 96.

    @91 and @92

    Robbo is a man u legend. I said that myself. But it's SAF's best Utd team. Compared to some of the others, SAF gotore put of and achieved more with others than he did with Robbo. He platters a major part in winning the FA cup on 1990 and the cup winners' cup the following year.

    But others won alot more under SAF.

    Having a champs league winners medal doesn't make you great. But still an achievement nonetheless.

  • Comment number 97.

    @96: good points, with ManU midfield you have a wealth of great talents to pick from... it's a matter of balancing individual talent against what they won. I suppose with my selection I've gone with the players who impressed me most as talents and for their team work, rather than looking at the medal haul - hence Robson and Keane for me, along with McGrath in defense. You don't have to have won much to make the best teams of all time either at a club level or at a world level - take Tom Finney as an example!

  • Comment number 98.

    That's a good point to be honest. I was looking more at medals won than anything else.

    I like your approach as well.

  • Comment number 99.

    RE 7: Flops '
    berg, johnson, may, p.nev'

    Berg and May were instrumental cover in the Treble winning season (remember that one goal line clearance?), and both were Premiership winners with Blackburn a few years prior. Phil Neville may never have been a star but in a slightly less significant way he was much like John O'Shea is for us now (and by the way, he came through the youth system, so you can't call him a flop signing). Ronny JohnsEn was always quality for us, just because he wasn't always a starter doesn't mean he was a flop.

    Assuming team gels and ignoring 'existing partnerships' as Lawro used:

    GK - Schmeichel
    LB - Evra
    CB - Bruce
    CB - Stam
    RB - Neville (G)
    LM - Giggs
    CM - Keane
    CM - Scholes
    RM - Beckham
    CF - Ronaldo
    CF - Cantona

    Van Der Sar

  • Comment number 100.


    I've gone for Ince over Keane and Irwin over Evra.
    Ferdinand for Bruce.

    But I agree with the rest.

    That team of '94 was unable to compete in Europe at full strength at the time due to the 3 foreigner rule. Otherwise it could well have gone all the way.


Page 1 of 2

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.