Manchester United: Picking an All-Time United Back Four

Ryan RodgersContributor IJuly 5, 2011

Manchester United: Picking an All-Time United Back Four

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    Offense wins games, defense wins championships.

    It's the defense's role to keep the opposing team at bay, and keep their team in the game.

    In the case of Manchester United, some of the greatest talents have graced the Old Trafford pitch, and attacked the Stretford End stands.

    Dennis Law, George Best, Bobby Charlton, Cristiano Ronaldo and Eric Cantona.  All of these attack minded geniuses brought ingenuity, creativity, and glory to the greatest English club of all time.

    However, Manchester United have been privileged to have some of the best defensive hard men cleaning up the mess of their flair and attack minded teammates.  Without these defensive rocks, Manchester United might resemble a certain consistently trophy-less North London club.

    Fortunately enough, Manchester United have had great defenders throughout their entire history, which makes picking only four even more difficult.

    Without further ado, here is the greatest, and most subjective fantasy back four lineup for Manchester United.

Left Back: Denis Irwin 1990-2002, 511 Starts, 33 Goals

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    Denis Irwin never dated Sporty, Scary, Baby, or any other Spice Girl for that matter.  Irwin was never in the tabloids for the wrong reasons, and was never involved in any high profile scandals.  Mr. Dependable had one thing on his mind, success and glory. 

    An able left, and right back, Irwin carried the ambitions and heart of Manchester United on his back.  A winner of the European cup, seven league titles, two FA Cups, one League Cup, one European Cup Winners Cup, and capped 56 times by Ireland.

    Manchester United shelled out £650,000 to sign one of their greatest ever defenders.  And Irwin repaid United over and over again.  At his peak, Irwin was one of the best full backs in the world.

Center Back: Gary Pallister 1989-98, 437 Starts, 15 Goals

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    Gary Pallister and Steve Bruce were the 1990's version of Nemanja Vidic, and Rio Ferdinand. 

    Responsible for bringing the title back to Old Trafford after a 26 year hiatus Pallister was one of the main catalyst in making United the most successful English club of all time.

    A cool, calm and collective center back, Pallister read the game exceptionally well, and snuffed out threats before they even developed.

    Pallister went on to win four Premier League titles, three FA Cups, and a UEFA Cup.  Despite the glory Pallister almost never got to etch his name in United folklore. 

    Countless bust-ups with Sir Alex almost saw Pallister go the way many footballers have gone after going toe-to-toe with the Gaffer.  Out.

    The arrival of Jaap Stam saw the Pallister era come to an end, but fans will never forget the service and glory Pallister brought United.

Right Back: Gary Neville 1991-2011, 569 Appearances, 7 Goals

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    When Gary Neville speaks, a little bit of Red Mist can be seen.  A true fan favorite, Gary Neville was adored for his devotion and loyalty to the club, and hated by everyone else.

    In an age where players are more faithful to the highest bidder than the club, Gary Neville only ever wanted to wear the red of Manchester.

    Being a fan favorite isn't enough for Gary Neville to make the all time back four lineup: rather, he was that good in his prime.

    It is widely regarded that Gary Neville was the greatest right-back of his generation.  A no frills, no nonsense approach, Neville only accepted excellence from himself and his teammates.

    Eight EPL titles, three FA Cups, and two European cups later, Gary Neville remains a role model for young players looking to make the next step.

Center Back: Nemanja Vidic 2006- 161 Starts, 14 Goals

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    I might catch some heat for the inclusion of Nemanja Vidic in Manchester United's all time back four.  However, who is more deserving than Nemanja Vidic to be included in this list?

    Having made a rocky transition from Spartak Moscow to Manchester United, many people doubted the quality of Nemanja Vidic.

    However, there are few people who would dispute the claim that Nemanja Vidic is currently one of the best center backs currently playing in World Football.

    One of the most feared defenders in the EPL, not many players can get the better of Nemanja Vidic.  Deceptively fast, and dominant on ground and in the air, Vidic always comes to his teams aid when called upon.  Be it stopping an attack, or scoring a vital goal.

    A consistent, reliable, and strong defender, Vidic has gone on to win countless trophies and individual awards.

    However, none more honorable than receiving the captains armband for Manchester United.  Vidic personifies the club, and is a major factor in their most recent success. 

Honorable Mentions

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    Tony Dunne  1960-1973, 535 starts, 2 goals

    Jaap Stam 1998-2001, 125 starts, 1 goal

    Steve Bruce 1987-1996, 308 starts, 36 goals

    Rio Ferdinand  2002-present, 309 appearances, 7 goals

    Paul McGrath  1982-89, 192 starts, 16 goals

    Roger Byrne  1951-58, 277 Starts, 19 Goals

    Shay Brennan 1957-70, 358 starts, 6 goals

    Bill Foulkes 1952-70, 685 starts, 9 goals

    Duncan Edwards 1952-58, 177 starts, 21 goals