Of the many revelations that have accompanied the publication of Sir Alex Ferguson’s new book Leading, perhaps the most intriguing was that he considers only four of his players at United to have been “world class.” Those four players were Cantona, Giggs, Scholes and Ronaldo.
Cantona was undoubtedly a cult hero at United and supposedly led by example on the training ground, encouraging the young ‘Class of 92’ to work that much harder. Whilst I was a great fan of Cantona and what he did at United in the Premier League, personally I wouldn’t say he was world class, as he repeatedly failed for United in the Champions League and for France on the international stage.
As for Fergie’s other 3 choices? No arguments there! They were 3 incredibly gifted players that did it season after season, and of course Ronnie is still doing it, but unfortunately not in a red shirt.
So what about the players that didn’t make the cut? I believe there are at least 8 other players managed by Fergie who deserve the ‘world class’ accolade.
What can you say about Peter Schmeichel? He almost won the Euros single-handedly for Denmark, won United at least 12 points a season, and was a giant in the Champions League. It’s staggering that Fergie left the Great Dane out.
Van der Sar was another world class keeper, both for United and Holland. Remember the season when he went 1,311 minutes without conceding a goal and kept 21 clean sheets?
We paid a world record fee for a defender in Rio. If Fergie didn’t think he was a world class defender, why did he pay that fee? I believe Rio was one of the best central defenders in the world for a number of years, and 100% deserves to be mentioned alongside the likes of Giggs and Scholes.
Vidic, for me, was also a world class defender in his prime, and along with Rio he helped bring great success to the club in England and abroad.
Stam, signed from Holland by Fergie, was an equally outstanding central defender; easily one of the best in the world at one time.
And then there’s Dennis Irwin – if he’d been Brazilian rather than Irish, I’m sure he would have been regarded as ‘world class’ too.
Keane, despite his acrimonious exit and regular contentious comments in the media, was one of the all-time greatest players to pull on the United shirt, and I would question whether we could have won so much in the 90s without him. The treble in 99 would surely never have happened had Roy not been in that team.
And what about Bryan Robson? Again, I can’t quite believe that Fergie didn’t consider Robbo world class. In my books he was most definitely an elite player, and to perform the way he did for club and country after so many injuries is quintessential Captain Marvel.
I’m sure you won’t all agree with Fergie’s choices or with mine. You will notice I haven’t included the likes of Beckham or Rooney (in fact, I haven’t included any forwards at all). Whilst Becks, Wayne et al were excellent players, I don’t put them in the same bracket as those named above.
Let us know which of Fergie’s players you see as world class in the comments below…