The end of the decade is approaching so it’s time to pick the best Manchester United XI of the 2010s.
It hasn’t been the greatest period for United — winning just two titles and losing the greatest football manager of all-time to retirement. Since 2013, we’ve had four managers (David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and José Mourinho) with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer currently in the hot seat.
After Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher debated their own teams of the decade on Monday Night Football, we decided to pick the best Manchester United XI from the last decade.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
The easiest pick of the lot. Joining from Atletico Madrid in 2011 as a scrawny shot-stopper, whose jersey fitted like a nightgown, De Gea didn’t have the easiest of starts to life in English football. We all know Spanish football is nowhere near as physical but Sir Alex Ferguson stood by his new goalkeeper knowing one day he’d be the best in the world.
De Gea’s aura has faded slightly over the past two years but his contribution over the course of the decade has been amazing and he will certainly go down as one of the best goalkeepers to play for Manchester United.
Right-back: Antonio Valencia
Don’t laugh. Valencia wasn’t a proper full-back and had a growth on the left side of his body that looked like a leg but it never worked, yet he deserves a place in this team for offering longevity through a turbulent 10-year period.
The other option is Rafael Da Silva, who was forced out of the club by Van Gaal, and many will feel the Brazilian deserved better and would probably claim this spot if he outstayed the Dutchman.
Centre-backs: Nemanja Vidic & Rio Ferdinand
Both defenders had their best years before this era, however, the competition at centre-back will either make you miserable or laugh uncomfortably. Vidic and Ferdinand went into the 2010s after forming the greatest defensive partnership in United’s history.
The Serb started 35 games when United won the title in 2011 and he managed just 19 appearances in the league when Sir Alex Ferguson won the club’s most recent title two years later, so it was clear he was on the wane. He’d stick his head where most wouldn’t put their foot!
Ferdinand, on the other hand, was the Rolls-Royce defender and I’ll go as far as to say the greatest centre-back to ever play for United. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year for 2012-13.
Left-back: Patrice Evra
Absolute legend. While Evra’s best years came before this era, like Vidic and Ferdinand, his presence was always felt on and off the pitch during his time in Manchester. He won the Premier League twice since 2010 to take his league winners’ medal tally to five.
Luke Shaw is the only other left-back worthy of being mentioned and I wouldn’t put him in the same page as an ageing Evra.
Central-midfield: Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs & Paul Scholes
After watching Roy Keane’s heavy metal approach to running United’s midfield, the arrival of Carrick saw a more smooth of play. More jazzy.
The former England international was the anchor of United’s midfield for much of this decade and has since become a coach — part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s staff.
He’s exactly the type of player the current team could do with… You’d think with the progress sports science has made over the years we’d be able to clone one of the most underrated Premier League players of the last decade.
Although Giggs was heading towards the end of his career at the beginning of this decade, his calmness and maturity won United games. Our midfield has been a joke since these players hung up their boots and we’re now sounding Liverpool fans who not long ago only had the past to talk about.
Scholes falls into the same bracket. Giggs and himself were line fine wines. They’d start over the current crop of players Solskjaer has at his disposal.
The only midfielder in recent years who came to mind was Ander Herrera — but let’s not pretend he was better than what he was…
No.10: Wayne Rooney
The club’s all-time greatest scorer and 122 of his goals came after 2010. Rooney and De Gea were the easiest selections for this article, but we shouldn’t ignore the former’s desire to leave Old Trafford on two occasions (2010 & 2013).
But he stayed and remained United’s talisman. In his final years, Rooney came in for criticism when managers shoe-horned him into different roles — in midfield mostly — but he still offered more than what we’ve seen from Paul Pogba, who we expected similar heights from following his return in 2016.
Wazza won 11 trophies at United.
Strikers: Marcus Rashford & Robin van Persie
Rashford definitely deserves a mention here — ahead of current teammate Anthony Martial — and he should be spoke about in the same vein when we do this article again in 10-years’ times.
The England international has won three trophies and already has 50 goals for United. He might be playing in an underwhelming side at the moment but there’s a cracking player in Rashford and seeing him in the same team as Rooney and Van Persie (both in their prime) would be a dream.
As for the Dutchman, it may have been one good season… but what a season it was!
He didn’t need much time acclimating to Manchester as he’d score goals for fun. Following a career plagued by injuries at Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson took a cheap risk (£24m transfer fee as per BBC Sport) and it worked out. Van Persie stayed fit and scored 26b goals playing in all 38 Premier League games during 2012-13.
Van Persie wasn’t happy when it became known that Fergie was going to retire after that season, but he stayed at Old Trafford for a further two season and finished with 58 foals in 105 matches.