Fergie's finest XI
To mark Sir Alex Ferguson's 25-year anniversary as Manchester United manager we'll be running a number of features dedicated to the Scot over the next few weeks. To kick-off we're asking Sky Sports readers to vote for a best ever United side to have played under Sir Alex.
Last Updated: 02/11/11 11:35am
When Sir Alex Ferguson inherited a Manchester United side in 21st place in the old First Division back in 1986 few predicted he would still be at Old Trafford at the end of the decade, let alone in 2011.
On November 6 he will celebrate a quarter of a century at the helm of English football's most successful club. In 25 glorious years he has led United to 12 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, two Champions League wins and a Cup Winners' Cup.
The Scot would concede he could not have achieved any of this success without some brilliant players. Indeed, if he was asked to pick a best ever XI from those he'd managed during his time in Manchester we reckon he'd still be weighing up his options come May.
To help him out we are inviting Sky Sports readers to do the donkey work by voting for a best ever United side; to be made up solely from players who played under him at some point in the past 25 years.
Will David Beckham get the nod or has Cristiano Ronaldo got the number seven shirt stitched up?
Is Cantona still king or has Wayne Rooney done enough to dump the Frenchman to the touchline?
Over the next few weeks we'll be asking for your votes and thoughts on each position; with today's vote deciding who'll get the nod to man Fergie's engine room.
To vote on who should be in goal click here.
To vote who should feature at full-back click here.
To vote who should feature at centre-half click here.
To vote who should feature on the wings click here
Roy Keane - 480 Man United appearances
No one player embodies Manchester United under Ferguson more than Roy Keane. If the Scot was reincarnated as a player there is no doubt he'd be wearing the no.16 shirt. Whether on the field or in the dressing room the fiery Irishman acted as Ferguson's lieutenant. It was a brilliant partnership, with Keane's obsession with maintaining the highest possible standards music to his manager's ears. Keane was no angel but if any United player stepped out of line they'd face a dressing down first from Fergie and then the captain. What we'd give to put Keane and Carlos Tevez in the same dressing room. Ferguson still says that Keane's performance against Juventus in a European Cup semi-final in 1999 remains the finest individual performance he has been associated with.
Paul Scholes - 676 Man United appearances
Like Keane, the genius of Scholes needs no introduction. Without question the most talented Englishman of his generation, the unassuming Salford-born schemer hung up his boots in the summer as one of the finest players this country has ever produced. That he was mismanaged when playing for England is a travesty but he will look back on his United career with no such regrets. If the mark of a great player is the respect they command from fellow pros then Scholes can be content in the knowledge the likes of Xavi and Zinedine Zidane feel he has no rival. Whether raking one in from 30 yards or splitting a defence with an eye-of-the-needle pass, Scholes was never happier than with his boots on. Put a microphone in his face and it's a different story so we'll leave the final word to his manager: "To my mind he will go down as one of the greatest players of all time for Manchester United."
Bryan Robson - 461 Man United appearances
Few players, if any, are treated with such reverence at Old Trafford as Bryan Robson. For a generation of United fans that grew up at a time when standing in the Stretford End was the only option rather than a naughty indulgence, Robson remains the best ever player to wear a red devil on his chest. Frequent spells on the treatment table are well documented but it is the foolhardy bravery that often put him there which is often celebrated. Robson was the complete modern midfielder - hard as nails but with majestic quality on the ball that was matched by a fine eye for goal. In a recent poll by former United players it was Robson that came out on top and who are we to disagree?
Nicky Butt - 387 Man United appearances
Like Scholes, Mancunian Butt was another of the Golden Generation who made Alan Hansen choke on his words and in the process knock Liverpool off their perch. For much of his Old Trafford career he was forced to play back-up to Scholes and Keane but few would deny he deserves his place amongst the club's greats under Fergie. A tenacious tackler and better passer than many gave him credit for; Butt is perennially praised for having been a model professional. All great sides need selfless performers and in Butt, Ferguson was frequently able to call on one of the best.
Paul Ince - 281 Man United appearances
Given Ince caused a furore by posing in a United shirt while still a West Ham player, it should come as little surprise his relationship with both Ferguson and the supporters remains fractious. What cannot be disputed is that Ince was a major player when the club won the inaugural Premier League in 92/93 before retaining it the following year. A snappy tackler with an infectious enthusiasm, Ince was sold to Inter Milan in 1995 having been labelled both a 'Champagne Charlie' and a 'bottler' by his manager. The self-styled Guv'nor further blotted his copybook by turning out for Liverpool later in his career.
Brian McClair - 355 Man United appearances
Bright spark Choccy (he has a maths degree from Glasgow University) arrived at Manchester United in a then record deal from Celtic in 1987 as a prolific goalscorer but over time was converted into a midfielder by Fergie. His conversion first arose when United signed Eric Cantona from Leeds United in 1992. Always an intelligent footballer capable of picking a pass, McClair had little trouble adapting his game and quickly became a key part of United's engine room. A trophy haul of four Premier League titles, three FA Cups, a League Cup and a Cup Winners' Cup is testimony to a fine career at Old Trafford.