Manchester United fans now look back on their 1999 treble winners with a painful sense of nostalgia.
Were it not for the dubious presence of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the dugout, there would be very little to recognise the current set-up as the same team that dominated English football and surpassed all before them in Europe too.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
While there are obvious bright sparks in Solskjaer’s squad now – Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes the most promising signs of life – there’s just no comparing them to the likes of Roy Keane, David Beckham and Peter Schmeichel.
Yes, there’s no comparing them – but simulating them against one another on PES to see who would come out on top? We’re all for it. Thankfully, Bleacher Report have taken the plunge and done just that.
On paper, there would only ever be one winner, but that’s the beauty of the gaming world. A world where the battles of Ryan Giggs vs Daniel James, or David Beckham vs Anthony Martial, are genuinely intriguing prospects.
And whatever the result, don’t say you’ve never envisaged the petrified screams of Paul Pogba if he were allowed within a few feet on Roy Keane on a football pitch.
Here’s how they lined up:
Current XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, Pogba, James, Fernandes, Martial, Rashford
Man Utd legends: Schmeichel, G. Neville, Stam, Johnsen, Irwin, Keane, Scholes, Beckham, Giggs, Cantona, A. Cole
We have a few bones to pick, not least that Cantona actually left Old Trafford in 1997. For the sake of a good simulation, we’ll gloss over that for now.
It’s also highly questionable why Solskjaer is allowed to come on against the team he now manages. ‘Match-fixing!’ we hear you cry.
Fortunately, this may not be a matter of life and death but it still raises some curious results.
Much to everyone’s surprise, United’s current side went ahead through a Marcus Rashford free-kick, won when the England international was essentially rugby tackled to the floor on the edge of the box by Eric Cantona.
It proved the only goal of the game as the United of 2019/20 won 1-0.
The match can be seen below:
Pogba, thankfully, emerges from Keane’s clutches unscathed. David de Gea also goes a full 90 minutes without inadvertently giving a goal away.
Andy Cole’s finishing is a little unrealistic, too. In real life, the striker was one of the early Premier League greats, scoring 229 career goals, not one for blazing headers wide.
Giggs might also feel hard-done-by in this clip. The Welshman would surely back himself to score from close range instead of wasting a golden opportunity.
When all is said and done, these are the finer details. It’s a promising consolation to United’s current faithful that they are at least deemed capable of beating their legendary counterparts on a video game, albeit while not holding a candle to them in the real world.