The Sir Alex Ferguson story might never be topped.
For the legendary Scot to spend so much time at one club as manager is one thing, but for that club to keep competing at the top level of European and domestic football for the vast majority of his time in charge is something else.
For 27 years Ferguson ruled the roost at Old Trafford, picking up 13 league titles and two Champions League trophies, plus several more honours, along the way.
But which players helped him achieve those successes?
For the latest of out Ultimate XI series we’ve taken a look at Fergie’s favourites, and put together an XI of players who the Scot selected the most, at least judging on the info we’ve got.
- The XI is made up of players who made the most appearances alongside our featured player or for our featured manager. We’re not looking for an overall ‘Best’ XI, and the player/manager himself isn’t in it.
- For a player, the appearance numbers are based on the time they spent on the pitch at the same time as our main man, factoring in both club and international level.
- This isn’t necessarily the eleven players who’ve spent the most time on the pitch with/for him, just the eleven that would fit into a working team.
- We’re not going to come up with a Garth Crooksesque formation, but we might name subs if we feel like it.
- All minutes played and appearances stats are courtesy of transfermarkt.co.uk.
- Don’t get angry in the comments section.
As you might have expected, it’s not too bad of a team.
Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel
Appearances under Ferguson:398
The man who kept goal so impressively throughout the 1990s, Schmeichel is one of the club’s finest imports and perhaps Ferguson’s best signing pound-for-pound.
Right-back: Gary Neville
Appearances under Ferguson:602
One of the famed Class of ’92, local lad Neville was a staple in Ferguson’s defence and picked up eight titles under the Scot before retiring to a life of punditry.
Centre-back: Gary Pallister
Appearances under Ferguson:437
A signing from Middlesbrough, Pallister was one of the rocks at the heart of the early successes at United under Ferguson.
Centre-back: Rio Ferdinand
Appearances under Ferguson:432
A big money capture from Leeds in the summer of 2002, centre-back Ferdinand would stay at United for 12 years and win six Premier League titles.
Left-back: Denis Irwin
Appearances under Ferguson:529
The classy Irish left-back was a mainstay of Ferguson’s teams for 12 years at Old Trafford, during which he picked up seven Premier League titles and the Champions League.
Right midfield: David Beckham
Appearances under Ferguson:394
They may have not seen eye-to-eye on occasion, but Ferguson and Beckham were both crucial parts of United’s success story in the late 1990s and into the 2000s.
Centre midfield: Roy Keane
Appearances under Ferguson:480
Another player who wasn’t exactly best friends with Ferguson – and certainly not by the end of his time at the club – Keane was nonetheless the perfect captain for the ruthless Scot.
Centre midfield: Paul Scholes
Appearances under Ferguson:718
Only two men have made more appearances for United than Scholes, and only one has more more under Ferguson than the ginger midfield maestro.
Left midfield: Ryan Giggs
Appearances under Ferguson:941
The first name on this teamsheet and often the first name on Ferguson’s, all but 22 of Giggs’ United appearances came under the legendary manager.
Forward: Wayne Rooney
Appearances under Ferguson:402
Again another who often fell out with his boss, Rooney went on to write his name in United’s history books having blossed under Ferguson following his arrival from Everton.
Forward: Brian McClair
Appearances under Ferguson:471
Having arrived from Celtic in Ferguson’s first summer as boss in 1987, the reliable McClair scored 24 goals in his first season and went on to be a key presence in Ferguson’s side.
Subs: Van der Sar (266), Bruce (414), Silvestre (361), O’Shea (394), P.Neville (378), Butt (383), Solskjaer (365)