Sir Alex Ferguson's All-Time Greatest Manchester United XI
This weekend is all about Sir Alex Ferguson. The Manchester United manager celebrates his 25th anniversary at Old Trafford, and with his silver jubilee comes a chance to reflect on his quite remarkable reign.
Ferguson arrived at United on November 6, 1986, to inherit a team languishing in the relegation zone and without a league title in 19 years.
A quarter of a century and 37 trophies later, Ferguson can lay claim to being the greatest manager of them all. He's won 12 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, two Champions League titles and a Cup Winners' Cup with United, and still he goes on.
During those 25 years, he's watched over some of best footballers in the world. Here's my take on his all-time best XI.
Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel
Peter Schmeichel made his 398th and final appearance for United in the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich. It was a fitting way for the big Dane to go out.
Schmeichel was an imposing presence in the United goal, with a bravery that made the very most of his considerable natural talent. What's more, he was the greatest distributor of the ball to ever put on the gloves.
Right-Back: Gary Neville
It's a shootout between Gary Neville and Paul Parker for the right-back spot, and in my opinion Neville takes it on account of his longevity and the support he provided David Beckham ahead of him.
Neville was always the model of focus and concentration. His work ethic was immense, and he did the simple things very well indeed.
Center-Back: Steve Bruce
Center-Back: Nemanja Vidic
The defensive combination of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand was largely responsible for United's Champion League triumph in 2008.
I've chosen the Serbian assassin for my Ferguson-era team because of his uncompromising style and fierce will to win. Ferdinand's fading form in recent years counted against him.
Left-Back: Denis Irwin
Denis Irwin was a rare commodity. A two-footed full-back with pace to burn, he was fine crosser of the ball and a serious threat from set pieces.
The Irishman made 511 starts for United, and it's hard to think of a time he let Ferguson down.
Right Midfield: Cristiano Ronaldo
The precocious Portuguese then set about dominating the Premier League like no midfielder before him. He scored 118 goals in 244 starts under Ferguson and was very much complicit in United's 2008 Champions League triumph.
Central Midfield: Roy Keane
Roy Keane made 480 appearance for United between 1993 and 2005, adding his snarling presence to Ferguson's midfield and setting the standard for sheer blood and guts.
He left having won seven Premier League titles under Ferguson.
Central Midfield: Paul Scholes
Arguably the best English creative midfielder of his generation, Paul Scholes spent his entire career under Ferguson's watch.
Having emerged as a teenager in 1994, he made 676 appearances before retiring at the end of last season.
Left Midfield: Ryan Giggs
Ryan Giggs broke into the Manchester United team in the early 1990s. It was Ferguson who convinced him to choose United over City as a schoolboy, and Ferguson's persistence has been spectacularly repaid over the last 20 years.
Giggs, now 37, has made a record 885 appearances for United. Having started out as a flying winger, he's evolved into a central midfielder in recent years. But it's the winger we'll remember him as.
Striker: Eric Cantona
United came desperately close to winning the league in 1992, but there was something missing.
That something was Eric Cantona, and when he joined from Leeds for just £1.2 million, the Frenchman altered the destinies of United and their manager.
Put simply, he was a genius.
Striker: Wayne Rooney
There's a big argument for Ruud van Nistelrooy, who scored a bucketload of goals in his time at United and was as lethal as they come. But Wayne Rooney is unquestionably the better all-around player.
RVN was a world-class finisher, but Rooney is a lot more than that.
I've Got a Book Out...
If you want to read more about Ferguson's 25 years at United, allow me a shameless plug for my new book.
It's called Life with Sir Alex: A Fan's Story of Ferguson's 25 Years at Manchester United, and it's available to order here.