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Manchester United: The Greatest XI

Throughout the club’s revered history, we have had some of the finest players in the world pull on the famous jersey. Now, each fan has their own favourites, depending largely on how long you have been a fan and personal preference, and it would be interesting to see what my fellow fans’ favourite ever XI for Manchester United is.

Now, I have been a supporter of the club since 1995, when at the ripe old age of 7, I started to take a keen interest in football, so i have seen very little footage off past greats before this time. I am aware my greatest XI may miss out club legends like Bobby Charlton, George Best and Duncan Edwards, but the team i will pick is the team that i have watched play throughout my years as a fan. This is purely a personal opinion, and i would love to hear some comments and opinions, especially from older, wiser fans!

Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel

Quite frankly, the greatest goalkeeper to play for United. The Great Dane was bought for a mere £530K from Brondby in 1991, a signing Sir Alex dubbed “the bargain of the century“.  In his 8 years at the club, Schmeichel was pivotal in the clubs’ successes and was undoubtedly the finest goalkeeper in the world during his career. He was a fearless goalkeeper, and was the first to let his defence know of his displeasure had they been sloppy, in fact a common sight was Schmeichel absolutely rollicking poor Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister. He retired on the back of the treble winning 1998-99 season, bowing out at the finest moment of his career.

Right Back: Gary Neville

A product of the “class of 91”, Neville had captained that famous youth squad to FA cup glory before his breakthrough in 1992. At his peak, Neville was a world class right back, being both brilliant at attack and defence. Neville made 603 appearances for Man Utd before retiring in 2011. Sir Alex has said of Neville “He was a club legend, and always will be“. United fans love Neville, not only for the service and dedication he gave the club, but also for his keen hatred of all things scouse!

Centre Back: Nemanja Vidic

Vidic was bought from Spartak Moscow in 2006 for the paltry sum of £7 million. After a few months of transition, Vidic established himself as a first choice centre back, with some absolutely solid performances. Throughout the last 3 seasons, Vidic has consistently been one of our finest players, only missing out on making the PFA Premier League team of the season once (2009-10 season)  in his time at the club. Our team captain, is a commanding presence at the back and terrific in the air, and has already gained the status of “legend”. In my opinion, the only defender in the world who can currently rival Vidic is Carles Puyol or Barcelona.

Centre Back: Steve Bruce

I must admit to only seeing brief glimpses of Steve Bruce play, but i have seen enough to include him in this squad. Bruce was a towering presence in defence, and was the first English captain to win “The Double” in the twentieth century. He stayed with the club for 9 years and in that time established himself as one of the league’s finest defenders. Sadly, Steve Bruce was never selected to play for the England first team, with many considering him to be the finest English player to never be capped.

Left Back: Denis Irwin

Nowhere in football is there a more popular player than the unassuming Irishman, who is the ultimate professional, one of those quiet, under-praised heroes who constitute the bedrock of all great teams.” Throughout his 12 years at Utd, Irwin was known as “Mr Dependable” as he very rarely made mistakes. Brilliant defensively and even better at going forward, Irwin is one of the club greats who doesn’t get enough praise in my opinion. Quite simply, our finest ever left back.

Right Midfield: David Beckham

Another graduate of the 1991 youth team, Beckham burst onto the scene in 1996 with that THAT goal against Wimbledon. An absolutely crucial player during the treble winning season of 1999, Beckham was famed for his free-kick taking abilities and for his quality at crossing from the wing. Unfortunately, his superstar status started to interfere with his relationship with the manager, and he was sold in 2003 to Real Madrid. Given more time at the club, it is agreed he could have went on to become the greatest ever Man Utd player.

Centre Midfield: Paul Scholes

He’s almost untouchable in what he does. I never tire of watching him play. You rarely come across the complete footballer, but Scholes is as close to it as you can get.” – Zinedine Zidane, 2010.

Paul Scholes is undoubtedly the finest English midfielder of his generation. He is 4th in the all time appearances list for the club and has won every domestic honour the game has to offer. Scholes was famed for both his terrific range of passing and knack for scoring spectacular goals. Loyal and dedicated to the club, Scholes will go down as one of the true greats in world football.

Centre Midfield: Roy Keane

Roy Keane was our captain from 1997 until his exit 8 years later. Keane was a no nonsense, tough midfielder who inspired everyone around him to up their game. An absolutely fearless leader, Keane was the ultimate competitor who often single handedly dragged the team to victory. His performance against Juventus in 1999 CL semi-final will go down as one of the finest individual performances of any Manchester United to player to date, and this was a level he demanded from those around him. Quite possibly our greatest ever captain.

Left Wing: Ryan Giggs

Is there anyone else this could possibly be? In my opinion, the greatest player every to play for the club. Giggs holds the club record for the most appearances, and in that time has gone on to be the most decorated player in the history of the game. At the start of his career, Giggs was deployed in the left wing position, being both lightning fast and extremely skillful. Later on in his career, he has been used primarily in a deeper central role, acting as a playmaker. His experience and class are second to none, and he is considered by many football fans to be the greatest left winger to grace the game.

Striker: Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo was bought for £12 million from Sporting Lisbon in the 2003, an absolute steal considering what he achieved. In his 6 years at the club, Ronaldo established himself as the greatest player in the world, winning both the FIFA player of the year and Ballon d’Or in 2008. He made 292 appearances for the club, scoring 118 goals in the process, and was one of the key factors for our success in the late 2000s. A spectacular player, Ronaldo will always be fondly remembered for his contribution, with some critics even going as far to say that he single-handedly won us the league during the 2007-08 season. He was sold in 2009 for a massive fee of £80 million, becoming the worlds most expensive player.

Striker: Eric Cantona

Eric Cantona is my favourite ever Manchester United player. With his class and arrogant swagger, Cantona will always be remembered as a Man Utd legend. Controversially bought from Leeds United in 1992, Cantona quickly became a fan favourite with his eye catching performances and absolute authority he had on the pitch. He retired unexpectedly in 1997, leaving us Utd fans wondering what he could have went on to acheieve. The King was one of a kind, and it is unlikely we will ever see a player like him again.

So that’s my favourite ever Mancheter United XI. Sad i missed out legends such as Cole, Ferdinand, Stam, Robson and Solskjaer. But it was inevitable that some great players would miss the cut. I would love to hear some opinions on your own favourite XI.

Follow me on twitter @stephenbusby88 if you want to discuss this article, or leave a comment.

 

More Stories Cristiano Ronaldo David Beckham denis irwin Eric Cantona Gary Neville Greatest Team Nemanja Vidic Paul Scholes Peter schmeichel Roy Keane Ryan Giggs Steve Bruce

26 responses to “Manchester United: The Greatest XI”

  1. Johno says:

    I have tried many times to compile my own greatest United team. The more I think about it the harder it gets. I have been watching the Reds since 1962 and seen too many great players. How can you compare Denis Law to a stiker of the last 10 or 15 years? Duncan Edwards to Roy Keane. I’m sure anyone who remember the 1948 side could add a few more names. Johnny Carey and Charlie Mitten spring to mind.
    Your team is as good as anyone can mention. As you said its just an opinion.
    Here’s to number 20!!

  2. Johno says:

    I have tried many times to compile my own greatest United team. The more I think about it the harder it gets. I have been watching the Reds since 1962 and seen too many great players. How can you compare Denis Law to a stiker of the last 10 or 15 years? Duncan Edwards to Roy Keane. I’m sure anyone who remember the 1948 side could add a few more names. Johnny Carey and Charlie Mitten spring to mind.
    Your team is as good as anyone can mention. As you said its just an opinion.
    Here’s to number 20!!

  3. kieran says:

    I’d rather put the one and only Mr G.Best up top drop Beckham,ronaldo on the wing! Other than that it sounds about right!

  4. kieran says:

    I’d rather put the one and only Mr G.Best up top drop Beckham,ronaldo on the wing! Other than that it sounds about right!

  5. Sunna says:

    I used to enjoy reading your articles but now i will never read Stretty Nes articles ever again. Disgrace. if youre a utd fan you should know that george best was the greatest footballer of all time. how can you not get him into the team? your knowledge if obviously lacking as your choices are all from the last 10 years. best instead of giggs – giggs is great but not the greatest of all time. what about sir bobby charlton? i will never read your articles again. disapointed in your lack of utd knowledge and i think you should give up your position as writer – many true utd fans will agree.

    • Busby88 says:

      Wind your neck in pal. I clearly said i was fully aware that Charlton and Best were club legends and i was aware they would be included in most Man Utd XIs. However, i didn’t see them play and i can only comment on what i have seen. I have no doubt older fans would agree.

      Just out of interest have a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCi2UWfnCU0 Mr Irwin didn’t include any of the players you mentioned and i’m sure he knows more about the club than you.

      If you wanted to debate my team, fair enough, i welcome it. But you just come across as childish and vitriolic. I won’t lose any sleep over the fact that you won’t read any of my articles again 😉

  6. Sunna says:

    I used to enjoy reading your articles but now i will never read Stretty Nes articles ever again. Disgrace. if youre a utd fan you should know that george best was the greatest footballer of all time. how can you not get him into the team? your knowledge if obviously lacking as your choices are all from the last 10 years. best instead of giggs – giggs is great but not the greatest of all time. what about sir bobby charlton? i will never read your articles again. disapointed in your lack of utd knowledge and i think you should give up your position as writer – many true utd fans will agree.

    • Busby88 says:

      Wind your neck in pal. I clearly said i was fully aware that Charlton and Best were club legends and i was aware they would be included in most Man Utd XIs. However, i didn’t see them play and i can only comment on what i have seen. I have no doubt older fans would agree.

      Just out of interest have a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCi2UWfnCU0 Mr Irwin didn’t include any of the players you mentioned and i’m sure he knows more about the club than you.

      If you wanted to debate my team, fair enough, i welcome it. But you just come across as childish and vitriolic. I won’t lose any sleep over the fact that you won’t read any of my articles again 😉

  7. Sunna says:

    you clearly do not know alot about football or united. youre an embarrssment to fans – im sure fellow fans will agree. disgrace that youre allowed to write articles. you obviously only watch sky sports premier league years where your players have featured – not the greatest of all time ~George Best or other legends such as Charlton, Law, Robson , EDWARDS, Robbins, McClair, Merideth, ect. 99% Utd legends include BEST as a starter and in SBC best 11 Giggs didnt make the bench. Your lack of knowledge makes me sick – you use the names Busby to make yourself look like a proper fan but i bet you dont know nothing about Sir Matt or previous Utd teams

    • Busby88 says:

      Actually, my real surname is Busby my friend. I can send out my passport to prove it if you wish? And I have been a fan for 15 years and it’s not up to you to say if that’s “proper” or not.

      This article is all about opinion, and i clearly stated i had an appreciation of older players such as Best and Charlton. Don’t like what i have to say? Debate it like an adult or jog on. You are a very angry little man.

  8. Sunna says:

    you clearly do not know alot about football or united. youre an embarrssment to fans – im sure fellow fans will agree. disgrace that youre allowed to write articles. you obviously only watch sky sports premier league years where your players have featured – not the greatest of all time ~George Best or other legends such as Charlton, Law, Robson , EDWARDS, Robbins, McClair, Merideth, ect. 99% Utd legends include BEST as a starter and in SBC best 11 Giggs didnt make the bench. Your lack of knowledge makes me sick – you use the names Busby to make yourself look like a proper fan but i bet you dont know nothing about Sir Matt or previous Utd teams

    • Busby88 says:

      Actually, my real surname is Busby my friend. I can send out my passport to prove it if you wish? And I have been a fan for 15 years and it’s not up to you to say if that’s “proper” or not.

      This article is all about opinion, and i clearly stated i had an appreciation of older players such as Best and Charlton. Don’t like what i have to say? Debate it like an adult or jog on. You are a very angry little man.

  9. Stretty says:

    Hi Sunna, thanks for dropping by and reading Busby88’s article. However, this article like many others is based on opinion. Busby did mention this list was only for the players he was fortunate to be able to see – there’s nothing wrong with that.

  10. Stretty says:

    Hi Sunna, thanks for dropping by and reading Busby88’s article. However, this article like many others is based on opinion. Busby did mention this list was only for the players he was fortunate to be able to see – there’s nothing wrong with that.

  11. I, Like Sunna, have previously enjoyed Stretty News articles but this is by fat the worst one.
    However, unlike Sunna, I will carry on reading their stories but not Busby88 as he obviously doesn’t have the knowledge that real fans possess.

    I like other authors on this website however.

    Stretty, although I understand that you must give your writers time I assure you this site will lose respect if you let people like Busby88 carry on and demolishing its reputation; you cannot afford to let him to continue – he is by far the worst

    Thanks,

    Mike

  12. I, Like Sunna, have previously enjoyed Stretty News articles but this is by fat the worst one.
    However, unlike Sunna, I will carry on reading their stories but not Busby88 as he obviously doesn’t have the knowledge that real fans possess.

    I like other authors on this website however.

    Stretty, although I understand that you must give your writers time I assure you this site will lose respect if you let people like Busby88 carry on and demolishing its reputation; you cannot afford to let him to continue – he is by far the worst

    Thanks,

    Mike

  13. Busby88 says:

    I hope you realise Sunna that i am fully aware that Michael Haynes comment came from the same IP address you have been using?!

    I apologise if you don’t like my writing. But it’s a simple fix: ignore my articles and read the others. There are a lot of great articles posted on here and it’s just a platform for us Utd fans to share our views. I wouldn’t expect anyone to agree with everything I have to say and if you don’t then I respect that.

  14. Busby88 says:

    I hope you realise Sunna that i am fully aware that Michael Haynes comment came from the same IP address you have been using?!

    I apologise if you don’t like my writing. But it’s a simple fix: ignore my articles and read the others. There are a lot of great articles posted on here and it’s just a platform for us Utd fans to share our views. I wouldn’t expect anyone to agree with everything I have to say and if you don’t then I respect that.

  15. Johnny says:

    I agree with this team. I would maybe have put Best instead of Beckham in there but as Busby88 said, it’s all personal opinion and this team is as good as any.

    Sunna, i couldn’t disagree more with you if i tried. Every fan will have different ideas about their favourite teams, and just because someone names a team you don’t like, doesn’t mean they are a disgrace.

    For what it’s worth, i enjoy reading every article on StrettyNews, and will continue to do so. I think Busby88 is a terrific writer and a credit to the site. Keep up the good work lads.

    • Busby88 says:

      Wow cheers Johnny, glad someone enjoys my writing. But as i said, terrific site and a great read for any Utd fan.

      I was tempted to throw Best in up front, move Ronaldo to right wing and drop Beckham all together, but i just went with the players i have seen first hand. Absolutely no doubt older more wiser fans would include the likes of Best and Charlton and that’s something i mentioned in my article.

      Anyway, here’s to number 20!

  16. Johnny says:

    I agree with this team. I would maybe have put Best instead of Beckham in there but as Busby88 said, it’s all personal opinion and this team is as good as any.

    Sunna, i couldn’t disagree more with you if i tried. Every fan will have different ideas about their favourite teams, and just because someone names a team you don’t like, doesn’t mean they are a disgrace.

    For what it’s worth, i enjoy reading every article on StrettyNews, and will continue to do so. I think Busby88 is a terrific writer and a credit to the site. Keep up the good work lads.

    • Busby88 says:

      Wow cheers Johnny, glad someone enjoys my writing. But as i said, terrific site and a great read for any Utd fan.

      I was tempted to throw Best in up front, move Ronaldo to right wing and drop Beckham all together, but i just went with the players i have seen first hand. Absolutely no doubt older more wiser fans would include the likes of Best and Charlton and that’s something i mentioned in my article.

      Anyway, here’s to number 20!

  17. Podge says:

    Nice little team you’ve put together there, I’ve been following united for much the same length of time as yourself, started at 6 years old when my da got me a video of the 92/93 season and I must have watched it a hundred times! So I can understand exactly where your coming from naming a best 11 that you have grown up with! I would drop necks from your team and slot ronaldo in on the right making room for van nistelrooy or rooney up front with cantona, but like you said it’s all about opinions and that’s why we love the game!

    • Busby88 says:

      Cheers Podge. Glad to see some sensible debate. As i have said, i can only include player i have seen play, the players you grow up with are the ones you will truly remember.

      I almost did drop Beckham and put Ronaldo on the wing, but i would have put Solskjaer in there, was a wrench leaving him out.

      And i agree, one of the good things about football is getting good chats and debates with fellow fans, and i’m always interested to hear my fellow fans’ views!

  18. Podge says:

    Nice little team you’ve put together there, I’ve been following united for much the same length of time as yourself, started at 6 years old when my da got me a video of the 92/93 season and I must have watched it a hundred times! So I can understand exactly where your coming from naming a best 11 that you have grown up with! I would drop necks from your team and slot ronaldo in on the right making room for van nistelrooy or rooney up front with cantona, but like you said it’s all about opinions and that’s why we love the game!

    • Busby88 says:

      Cheers Podge. Glad to see some sensible debate. As i have said, i can only include player i have seen play, the players you grow up with are the ones you will truly remember.

      I almost did drop Beckham and put Ronaldo on the wing, but i would have put Solskjaer in there, was a wrench leaving him out.

      And i agree, one of the good things about football is getting good chats and debates with fellow fans, and i’m always interested to hear my fellow fans’ views!