Sir Alex Ferguson’s first pick in dream Man Utd XI was clear as household names shunned

HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY SIR ALEX FERGUSON: The legendary Manchester United manager was always going to be spoilt for choice when deciding on a dream XI after winning multiple Premier League titles during his tenure

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Most Premier League managers will have at least a couple of easy decisions when picking a dream XI from their tenure, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s task will have been far from simple.

The Scot was in charge for all 13 of United’s titles in the Premier League era, with 20 years separating the first and the last, and oversaw plenty of memorable XIs during his tenure.

He built teams of academy talents, world-class superstars, and academy talents who became superstars under his supervision.

Several United players were named Premier League player of the year under Ferguson, with Cristiano Ronaldo achieving the feat in back-to-back seasons.

However, when it came to deciding on a dream XI, the first name on the list was someone who never received the same plaudits.

Who would you put in your dream XI from the Ferguson era? Let us know in the comments section

Ferguson retired in 2013, and that same year he was asked by the Sunday World to name a dream XI from his time in the United dugout.

However, while he was almost spoilt for choice up front, with the likes of Rooney, Eric Cantona and Robin van Persie among the men fighting for a limited number of places.

Ronaldo was among the options on the wings, along with the likes of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs, but there was an easier decision in defence.

Denis Irwin got the nod from Ferguson at left-back, with the Scot singing the praises of the Irish international.

“Honestly, I would say Denis Irwin would be the one certainty to get in the team. I called him an eight out of 10,” Ferguson said.

“At Highbury in one game, he had a bad pass back in the last minute and [Dennis] Bergkamp came in and scored. After the game the press said: ‘You must be disappointed in that pass back.’ I said: ‘Well, one mistake in 10 years isn’t bad.’ He was an unbelievable player.”

Irwin was one of Ferguson’s pre-Premier League signings for United, joining from Oldham Athletic in 1990, and he played more than 500 games for the club before leaving for Wolves in 2002.

He started in the 1999 Champions League final, as well as winning seven Premier League titles, and has spoken about the determination which carried the team to glory against Bayern Munich.

“But it was pure desire and drive that got us there – and we knew we could score,” he said.

“It was a great night with a great group of lads, and a huge squad effort the whole season. You don’t just need a fantastic side, you need a really good back-up as well, which is what got us over the line.”

Irwin played more than 500 games in a United shirt


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When discussing other parts of the team, Ferguson pointed to the fierce competition for places making it “absolutely impossible” to narrow things down.

“You look at the strikers I had, going back to [Brian] McClair, [Mark] Hughes, [Andy] Cole, Cantona, [Ruud] van Nistelrooy, [Louis] Saha, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, [Dwight] Yorke, Teddy Sheringham,” he said.

“Then to the present players – Wayne Rooney, [Robin] van Persie, Chicharito [Javier Hernandez]. How do you pick out of that? Cantona and somebody else maybe?”

Ferguson suggested there wouldn’t be room for both Van Persie and Rooney in his dream XI



“The midfield was probably a bit easier because you have [Roy] Keane, [Bryan] Robson and [Paul] Scholes – they were fantastic players – and [David] Beckham, [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Ryan] Giggs.”

Had Ronaldo featured as more of a central striker in the Ferguson years, the competition for places in attack could have been even fiercer, but the question mark over the Portuguese player’s inclusion speaks to the quality present over the years.

Ferguson enjoyed a good relationship with Ronaldo after bringing the former Sporting CP man to England as a teenager, helping him settle and granting him time off when his father fell ill.

“Cristiano Ronaldo was the most gifted player I managed,” Ferguson wrote in his book.

“He surpassed all the other great ones I coached at United. And I had many.

“The only ones who could be placed near him would be a couple of the home-produced players, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, because they contributed so prodigiously to Manchester United for two decades.”

Longevity was a factor in Irwin’s inclusion too, having been there for Ferguson’s first European trophy in 1991 and perhaps his most famous in 1999.

That presence, along with the consistency he showed during his time at Old Trafford, means it’s very hard to argue with his inclusion.

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