Naming the best 11 you’ve ever seen in your time as a red, this should easy as you like, from 88 to the here and now, there’s so many obvious names in key positions that it’s gonna take 20 minutes tops, this is what I thought when I started writing the list at 19:32, what I reminded myself when I started again at 21:45, and again at 23:09 when I realised I’d commuted the crime of becoming a not going out viewer as I’d forgotten to pay attention to the telebox as I finalised this.
But thankfully, finalised it is in its unconventional 4-3-3 format.
Between the sticks
He was immense, yes he tainted his reputation and took some of the shine off his legend by giving it the big’ at City, but for me at least, you can’t look at what he did through the 90’s and then tell me there’s a better keeper than him.
Many big shifts were put in, but that night in Newcastle, as he held off a Geordie tsunami to help us set up the unlikeliest of victories on the way to a double that launched many a club legend will never be forgotten.
If you’ve picked anyone but him then you need to go back to your school and apologise to your teachers for making it look like they failed on a horrific scale to educate you while you were there.
For all the years he served the club he was the definition of consistent, as a last line of defence he was flawless, as an attacking threat there’s many a winger who’d love to have had a final ball as good as his, throw in his set piece threat and the fact that he hat a shot on him cleaner than rain mans kitchen work tops and you know he was the complete package.
(Having said all that, I’m hugely hopeful that if I am asked by RetroUnited.com to do this again in 5 years, Shaw will have replaced the Irishman in this line up)
Rio & Vidic
Let me begin by saying this, Stam is immense, the only reason he’s not in the side is the short period he was at the club before Sir Alex dropped a transfer bollock and sold him, had he have played out a season of three more than he did, he’d have been in with no questions asked.
These two were complete opposites, but used together they created a foundation that many a glorious campaign could be built on. Strong in the air, quick in the challenge and their ability to anticipate the opponents next move was up there with my ex wife’s ability to spend my wage before I got it.
I dread to think how much more they could have helped the club to achieve if the played behind the midfield and attacking options of that treble squad…
From the first time I saw him in his debut against Palace I loved him, I’d seen a few of the class of 92 lads make their debuts, but this lad had the most assured one of the lot,
Right from the outset he played as he did throughout his time as a red, he threw himself into the challenge to protect the goal behind him, and while he lacked that Irwin touch when it came to finding the net, his final ball into the box was consistently outstanding, many a side doubled up on Beckham to try and neutralise his threat, but Gary’s overlap work undid sides time and time again when he delivered crosses.
I thought for a while that in Rafael we finally had a replacement, but it’s become clear that we’re some time away from seeing a defender who can make the right side his own as well as the Nev did.
He’s the only one I’ve ever seen, and I’ll be a blessed man if I ever see better!
He was the lasting force of SAF era, no matter how many times he reinvented the squad he wanted to use to challenge domestically and across Europe, the left side never changed, that’s not a sentimental decision on behalf of our legendary leader, he’s not a man to make decisions based on such feelings, that Giggs remained throughout speaks volumes for what he did to drive United forward throughout his playing career.
Scholes & Robson
So many names are on the nearly list for this, Keane & Ince being the stand out two, but what I saw these two players do will stay with me forever!
Robson was everything you could ever want from a midfielder, he dragged mediocre colleagues up by 50% with nothing more than a glare, braver than anyone I’ve ever seen, add to these qualities the fact that he was a proven goalscorer with a consistent ability to shape the big games.
Scholes is everything the meme’s said about him, he’s world class, he started up top and scored for fun, 25 yard screamers, fox in the box tap ins, late run headers, the guy had it all, as age caught up with him, he didn’t become a weak link that was shipped out to a lesser club with the fans best wishes, no, he just went on to prove that he could adapt to a deeper role where his passing could open any defence up.
I’m not a huge fan of the monarchy, but the ginger prince is someone I’ll miss forever more in our midfield.
I know there’ll be those who scream out Beckham’s name, but the times where I saw this lad doing his thing in a United shirt were among the best of my time as a red!
Unbelievable pace, a cracking final ball and an ability to finish that would’ve been the envy of many a striker! Being in the Stretford End the night he got that hat-trick against city will forever be one of the finest school nights out of my life.
Cantona & Ronaldo
This takes no explanation!
Each in their own way lifted us to levels I don’t believe we’d have reached without them.
Ronaldo has the bigger trophy cabinet, but it will always be Eric that I see as the man who helped create the platform the club launched into the era of dominance from, I dread to think how different the last 20 years would’ve been if not for the Frenchmans arrival at the club.