We continue with our ‘best ever’ vote series, where we put across a selection of players to you, the reader, in attempt to define our readers’ XI. The poll remains open for five days and we will also be running our writers’ XI and revealing our former player contributors XI’s too.
The team will be assembled in a 4-4-2 formation. We are aware that certain difficulties will be presented when considering players from older generations where the formation doesn’t quite fit.
The most common example of this is Duncan Edwards who played at half back. This was an era when four man defences were only just coming into the fore and were certainly unfamiliar in British football, and the half back played on the outside of what would be classed as a modern midfield three. However, their duties included pushing wide when defending, assuming the role of a modern full back.
For this reason, where such a player excelled in two roles, we will include the player in both categories we feel appropriate and if that player scores highest in both categories, whichever one he attracted the most votes in will determine the position he will be selected in.
And so we arrive to one of the most hotly debated areas of the team. Even arriving at this list of players was not easy – first of all, we went through European Cup winners, and then went through the best of the rest.
The names speak for themselves but it doesn’t make the choice any easier. Paul Scholes is arguably the most gifted English player of all time but does he deserve a place in front of Sir Bobby Charlton, who is currently still the record goalscorer for both club and country? Roy Keane was a wonderful box to box player and captain during one of the most successful spells in the club’s history but did he bring more to the team than Bryan Robson? Does Robbo’s ability to raise the performance level of his team make him a certainty? Duncan Edwards, included in the left back vote, has to be included here due to his performances at half back, as explained above and before.
What about some of the lesser celebrated names – Nobby Stiles, Pat Crerand, Nicky Butt and Michael Carrick, all of them under-rated, but all with their own role to play in United’s greatest successes. Finally, the partnership of Lou Macari and Sammy McIlroy, full of guile and attacking purpose, illuminated the stage at Old Trafford for most of the late 1970’s. Does their contribution merit inclusion?
Paul Ince, Ray Wilkins and Gordon Strachan round out the list, which shows two things – United have had a tremendously rich history in the middle of the park and furthermore, it has retained its British identity.
The vote will remain open for five days. As with the central defenders, the two midfielders with the highest number of votes will be selected for our team.