Football

Manchester United could have ruled the world with Vieira

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It was inevitable that following the release of Sir Alex Ferguson's autobiography, all sorts of unreported news was going to be pushed into the limelight.

However whilst the world has become frenzied over the revelations regarding the likes of David Beckham, Roy Keane and to some extent Mark Bosnich, it's the name of another retired professional that's sent my imagination into overdrive.

Surpsingly enough it's not a Manchester United player at all, but rather a figure who plagued Sir Alex for a healthy portion of his 26-year stint in charge.

It came to light yesterday that the legendary boss tried and failed to sign Patrick Vieira in the 90s, before his meteoric rise to the position of dominance in the Premier League.

Were it not for the failure of Peter Kenyon to talk to Arsenal at the time about the availability of the French midfielder, then he could very well have moved to Old Trafford from Highbury.

That's arguably the greatest midfielder in Premier League history moving to the most successful team since the competition's birth. 

It's fair to say that for the majority of Ferguson's tenure either side of the turn of the millennium, it was Arsenal who plagued him the most.

The Gunners took the league in 1997/98, 2001/02 and their invincible season of 2003/04, and it's another reasonable assessment to make that Vieira had a major hand in all three successes.

Had he been on the side of their Manchester rivals though, would the story ultimately read the same?

The answer, for me at least, is a resounding no.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side never really lacked for midfield talent, but at the same time they never had anyone with the all-round presence of Patrick Vieira. Roy Keane provided mettle and heart, but he was utilised to far greater effect when deployed with the instructions to break up play and begin moves, not when he was charged with being in a position to finish them off.

It's no wonder that he and Vieira were such fierce rivals for the duration of their careers. The two were eerily similar, the only difference being that the latter also had the ability to be incredibly effective when surging up the pitch.

Had Sir Alex managed to purchase the former Arsenal skipper before he became the rolling juggernaut who so effortlessly bossed Wenger's midfield, he would have been able to boast the most combative middle of the park in the world.

Not only would United have been guaranteed the best cover possible for their back four, but the creative talents of Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs would have been boosted by the presence of a domineering central midfielder who would not just support them going forward but also more than likely make up for their defensive frailties as well.

Vieira would have added steel to the Fergie side of the early 2000s, and his capture would have probably weakened the prominence Arsenal enjoyed to boot.

He may have fallen out with Keane, kicked boots at Beckham and sold Jap Staam, but in my eyes his most glaring mistake was not to relieve the Gunners of the man who would grow to become one of the best players in their history.

Of course Vieira eventually went on to join Manchester City, and maybe he wouldn't have ever become the player he did had he been cherry-picked by Fergie, but that's not to say the Scot was to know that.

In one move he could have eliminated the strength of his fiercest rivals, further improved the credentials of his own side and ensured that perhaps the two greatest warriors of the last decade threw their swords at a common enemy rather than each other.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Patrick Vieira
Manchester United
Patrick Vieira
Arsenal

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