Sir Alex Ferguson says he only managed four world-class players - but here are TEN more

  • Rob Swan
Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League

During his glittering 26-year spell as Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson coached some of the world’s greatest players between 1986-2013.

United became the planet’s most formidable team for a period under Ferguson’s management, which in turn allowed the club to bring in some top-class talent.

But of all the hundreds of players Fergie managed at Old Trafford, the legendary Scot raised eyebrows back in 2015 by claiming he only classed four of them as genuine world-class players.

"I don't mean to demean or criticise any of the great or very good footballers who played for me during my 26-year career at United, but there were only four who were world class: [Eric] Cantona, [Ryan] Giggs, [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Paul] Scholes,” Ferguson said in his 2015 book ‘Leading’.

"And of the four Cristiano was like an ornament on the top of a Christmas tree."


He added: "They made the difference and the evidence is there.

"When we brought Eric Cantona in, we won the league that season. It was his mere presence and his ability to make and score goals.

Frenchman Eric Cantona of Manchester Uni

"The younger breed like Ryan and Scholes were just fantastic players and the thing about those two was longevity.

“Are there players who have played right through the whole of the Premier League and performed at the level they have? There are none, absolutely none.


"And of course Ronaldo was just a complete genius of a player."

Now, all of this is impossible to argue with. Ferguson knew his players better than anyone and he believes they were the pick of the bunch.

But to say that he only managed four world-class players is, let’s face it, a bit of an insult to a handful of other brilliant footballers he managed.

Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League

Here are 10 more of Fergie’s United players who deserve the same ‘world-class’ title…

Roy Keane

If they hadn’t have fallen out quite so spectacularly then Fergie surely would have agreed that Roy Keane was a world-class player.

The Irish midfielder is the greatest captain of the Premier League era; a man who led by example and ensured that his teammates’ standards never slipped.

Keane was also an underrated footballer; he really could play.

It’s no exaggeration to suggest that without Keane, United wouldn’t currently have 13 Premier League titles to their name.

Man U v Derby

Peter Schmeichel

Quite possibly the greatest goalkeeper of the Premier League era and probably the best in Manchester United’s history.

Peter Schmeichel was easily the best in the world during his eight years at Old Trafford.

Peter Schmeichel

David Beckham

David Beckham may have loved the limelight and become the most famous man on the planet but let’s get one thing straight: he was an absolute baller.

Nobody could hit a set-piece or whip in a cross quite like Becks, who also worked his socks off for his beloved Man Utd.

Like Keane, Beckham left United following a bust-up with Fergie - which may explain why he wasn’t included in his former manager’s ‘world-class’ shortlist.

David Beckham of Manchester United scores the second goal with a trademark free-kick

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney went on to become Manchester United’s all-time leading goalscorer, which is obviously a phenomenal achievement.

The former United and England captain also had his bust-ups with Ferguson but there’s no doubt he was world-class.

At his peak, every club on the planet would love to have signed Rooney.

Manchester United v Swansea City - Premier League

Nemanja Vidic

Widely regarded as one of the Premier League’s best ever centre-backs, Nemanja Vidic was a colossus for United during the latter stages of the Ferguson era.

There weren’t many better defenders anywhere at his peak (around 2007-2011) which surely means the former Serbia international *was* world-class.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Fergu

Ruud van Nistelrooy

Yet another high-profile star who fell out with Ferguson shortly before his Man Utd exit, Ruud van Nistelrooy was probably the world’s best No. 9 at his peak.

A striker who lived to score goals, Van Nistelrooy found the net 150 times in 219 appearances for the Red Devils.

Van Nistelrooy signing

Rio Ferdinand

Like Vidic, Rio Ferdinand was one of the best central defenders in the business during his hugely successful 12-year spell at Old Trafford.

A classy operator at the heart of United’s defence, Ferdinand was the best ball-playing centre-back on the planet during the late-2000s.

Manchester United v Chelsea - UEFA Champions League Final

Gary Neville

Gary Neville wasn’t far behind the likes of Cafu and Javier Zanetti at his peak.

The best right-back of the Premier League era, Neville reached the top of his profession thanks to sheer hard work and dedication.

Manchester United Press Conference

Jaap Stam

Oh look, another big-name player who left United after falling out with Fergie.

Jaap Stam was rock solid for Ferguson’s side between 1998-2001 but left for Lazio after infuriating his manager with some controversial comments made in his autobiography.

Years later Fergie, rather surprisingly, admitted he made a mistake selling Stam.

Jaap Stam of Manchester United

Patrice Evra

Patrice Evra was easily one of the world’s best left-backs at his peak - if not *the* world’s best left-back.

Not only was the Frenchman a brilliant defender, but he was also very effective at the opposite end of the pitch. He was also extremely consistent; everything you’d want in a modern-day full-back.

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