25 players that shaped Ferguson's United: 19-11

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19. Lee Sharpe

Sharpe provided Ryan Giggs with decent competition on the left-hand side of United's midfield, and while the England international had an up and down time at United, for a lot of his career spanning from 1988-1996, the midfielder had his moments where he changed games in United favour, making him a valuable asset for Ferguson.

Sharpe made over 200 appearances for United, and after leaving the club for Leeds, he didn’t feature for England again. Unfortunately, the star was outshone by Giggs as he continued to improve his form, and after David Beckham broke onto the scene, Sharpe left Old Trafford in search of more game time.

18. Dwight Yorke

With Fergie’s fledglings coming towards their end, Yorke was purchased from Aston Villa in 1998 for £12.6 million, after he insisted on a transfer to Old Trafford. Yorke immediately formed a brutal up-front partnership with Andy Cole, and scored 64 goals in 188 appearances for the side.

Yorke left United after just four years, with some sources claiming that Ferguson had fallen out with the star.

The manager had shown throughout his time at United that he had no time for big egos, and Ferguson reportedly saw Yorke as getting too big for the club.

17. Ruud van Nistelrooy

Up until it was broken by Javier Hernandez, Van Nistelrooy held the record for the most goals in a debut season for United, as he netted 20 times in his debut season.

The goals just didn’t stop coming for the superstar, and even though he was injured in the 2004-2005 season, he still managed to score a Champions League-best eight goals.

In five seasons with United, van Nistelrooy scored 150 goals in less than 200 appearances, and the prodigy was apparently the finding of Ferguson’s son Darren, who the Scotsman revealed had begged United to sign him.

Rumours of spats between van Nistelrooy and Ferguson, and also incoming winger Cristiano Ronaldo, marred the 30-year-old’s move to Real Madrid, but he will always be a fan favourite at Old Trafford.

16. Nicky Butt

One of Ferguson’s youth products, Butt was a member of the 1992 youth squad that developed into senior superstars. The side, which included Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Gary Neville and Phil Neville, went on to win the Barclays Premier League title in 1995/96, 1996/97, 1998/99 and 1999/00.

Butt was an unlikely successor for big money transfer Paul Ince, but he earned his stripes for the side, scoring crucial goals for United and providing reliable back up for Roy Keane and Paul Scholes. 

15. Nemanja Vidic

Vidic is yet more proof that Ferguson knows a good value buy when he sees it.

The manager had been monitoring the defender for two and a half years at Spartak Moscow, before making the purchase in 2005 for £7 million, a modest fee, for a player who is now captain and a stalwart at the club.

Vidic formed a partnership with Rio Ferdinand that made the side unstoppable, particularly at Old Trafford. The pair have often been compared to Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister’s defensive partnership.

And Vidic is still influential over the United side, with his injury this season showing an obvious hole in the side’s back line of late.

14. Park Ji-Sung

In an era where few Asian footballers play in the Barclays Premier League, United took on Park from PSV Einhoven in 2005 and haven’t looked back since. The South Korean has been a game changer on many occasions, and has amassed 11 trophies with the side since he moved to Old Trafford.

And Park’s fan base throughout Asia has benefited the club as well, with other clubs such as Arsenal and Liverpool hoping to follow suit by widening their scouting bases.

13. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Solskjaer was the classic ‘super sub’ for Ferguson, and when he moved to the club in 1996, the Norwegian footballing legend would come off the bench to score bags of goals for the club whenever needed. In one match up with Nottingham Forest, he scored four off the bench to take the scoreline to 8-1.

But Solskjaer’s biggest moment at United, and one very close to the hearts of fans, was when he scored the winner to capture the treble in the 1999 Champions League final.

12. Steve Bruce

Regarded as one of the greatest defenders in Manchester United’s history, Bruce made over 300 appearances for the side, and paired with Gary Pallister, the two made a fearsome pair.

Bruce was an integral part of the side that won the domestic double twice in 1994 and 1996 to become the first side in the 20th century to do so.

After leaving in 96, Bruce has spells at Birmingham City and Sheffield United, then made the move into management.

11. Gary Neville

Neville is a rare one-club man. Coming through the youth team, Neville moved into the senior side in 1992, and was a member of Ferguson’s Youth Cup winning side that was destined for glory at senior level.

David Beckham making an overnight trip to Old Trafford from LA to play alongside Neville in his testimonial showed just how influential the right-back was, in helping the side to ample successes over his 19 years.


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