Sir Alex Ferguson's best ever Manchester United players

Peter Schmeichel
Peter Schmeichel was a bargain buy from Danish side Brondby in 1991 and solved Alex Ferguson's goalkeeping problem at Manchester United. At 6ft 4in, he was a formidable presence and regularly argued on the pitch with central defenders Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister.
Edwin van der Sar
Edwin van der Sar was regarded as the first goalkeeper to adequately fill the void left by Schmeichel's departure. He was already 34 when he surprisingly left Fulham to make the trip north in 2005, but the Dutchman spent six seasons at Old Trafford, winning four Premier League titles and a Champions League.
Gary Neville
Have any of Ferguson's Manchester United players shown their passion for representing the club more than Gary Neville? The Bury-born full-back came through the club's academy and played for almost 20 years at Old Trafford. He formed a strong partnership with David Beckham down United's right and pride played a part in his decision to retire in 2011, when he acknowledged a drop in the level of his performances after returning from serious injury.
Denis Irwin
In an early 1990s team of outspoken and often volatile characters, Irish full-back Denis Irwin was an unassuming and dependable presence. As well as his solid defensive displays, the former Oldham defender was also a deft free-kick taker and at the end of his 12-year stay was one of the club's most decorated players.
Patrice Evra
France international left-back Patrice Evra arrived in Manchester for £5.5m from Monaco in January 2006. After a slow start, Evra soon adapted his style of play and became a rightful heir to Irwin. Despite difficulties at international level - it was claimed he led the rebellion against national coach Raymond Domenech at the 2010 World Cup - Evra continues to enjoy great success at United, including five league titles and a 2008 Champions League winner's medal.
Jaap Stam
A fee of £10m seemed a lot of money for a relatively unknown Dutchman in the summer of 1998, but Jaap Stam more than justified his price tag with a series of superb displays as United won the treble in his first season. Blessed with plenty of pace and strength, not many Premier League strikers got the better of him before he was sold to Lazio for £16.5m after claiming in his autobiography that Ferguson had made an illegal approach to him in Holland.
Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand became the most expensive British player in history when he crossed the Pennines to join United from Leeds for £29.1m after starring in the 2002 World Cup. He was banned for eight months in 2004 after missing a drugs test but United stood by him and he remains a key figure despite injury problems.
Steve Bruce
One of Ferguson's early signings, and one of his best. Steve Bruce formed a key partnership with Gary Pallister at the heart of the defence during the dominant 1990s, scored key goals against Sheffield Wednesday in the club's first Premier League title win of 1993 and ended up with 51 for the club in 414 appearances.
Gary Pallister
Ferguson broke the British transfer record for a defender to sign Gary Pallister for £2.3m in 1989 but was proved right again as the 6ft 4in centre-back provided the base for the first title-winning side of 1993, alongside Bruce. Missed just one league game between 1992 and 1995, and was sold back to Middlesbrough for a profit in 1998.
Nemanja Vidic
A tremendous signing for £7m, Nemanja Vidic moved to Manchester from Moscow, preferring north-west England to Fiorentina in Florence. In no time at all he established a central-defensive partnership with Ferdinand which has proved to be one of the best in the top flight. Aggressive, no-nonsense, brave and intuitive, the Serb has enjoyed steady success, interrupted only by a serious knee injury sustained in December 2011.
Cristiano Ronaldo
Portuguese youngster Cristiano Ronaldo arrived at Old Trafford as a skinny winger in 2003, and left six years later as the most expensive player in world football. Provided the pace and power to a United side which won three Premier League titles in a row and scored in the Champions League final win over Chelsea in 2008.
David Beckham
David Beckham propelled himself to global superstardom during his time at Old Trafford. His high public profile and celebrity wife Victoria may have distracted from his impressive on-pitch presence, but he was full of energy and midfield charisma. Beckham's major weapons were his dead-ball skills and crossing. Headline-grabbing goals scored direct from free-kicks were a speciality, though of course his lobbing of Wimbledon keeper Neil Sullivan from the halfway line in August 1996 alerted the world to his ability. 'Brand Beckham' was born.
Ryan Giggs
Ryan Giggs is Manchester United's leading appearance maker and their most decorated player by some distance. If the club's success is represented in managerial terms by Sir Alex Ferguson, then Giggs is the player who has been at the forefront of the trophy-laden Ferguson years at Old Trafford. The Welsh winger has won two doubles and a treble and scored in every Premier League season.
Paul Ince
Paul Ince was a driving force in the United midfield for six years after signing from West Ham and was a key figure in the 1993-94 double-winning side which is considered one of Ferguson's greatest teams. Ferguson showed his ruthless side when Ince was surprisingly sold in the summer of 1995, alongside Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis, to be replaced by a younger group of players from the club's academy. The Scot later referred to Ince as a "big-time Charlie".
Roy Keane
Roy Keane replaced Bryan Robson at the heart of the United midfield and his bursting runs and crunching tackles were reminiscent of the former England captain. Keane came to be Ferguson's voice on the pitch and was as quick to lose his temper with fellow players as he was officials. The Irishman appeared to take that too far when he spoke out about what he thought were slipping standards and he was sold to Celtic by Ferguson in November 2005 after a 12-year stay at Old Trafford.
Paul Scholes
Paul Scholes was one of the key players to emerge from the Manchester United youth team's 'class of 1992' and he became one of Europe's most feared players. His technical gifts as a goalscorer and supreme passer led to the likes of France great Zinedine Zidane claiming he was "in a class of his own". Scholes retired at the end of 2011 but returned to the United side halfway through the following season having admitted he quit too early.
Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes had two spells with Manchester United, the second far more successful with Ferguson as manager. The Welshman was one of the key players in United's double-winning side in 1994 as his hold-up play complemented flying wingers Giggs and Kanchelskis perfectly. Hughes scored some memorable goals, not least in the 1991 Cup Winners' Cup final victory over Barcelona and in the 1994 FA Cup semi-final against Oldham, where his late equaliser earned a replay. United went on to complete their first double by beating Chelsea in the final.
Eric Cantona
Eric Cantona joined Manchester United from Leeds in 1992, having won the Division One title at Elland Road the previous season, and is regarded as one of Ferguson's most astute buys. Within six months the Frenchman was the catalyst as United won their first league title in 26 years to begin Ferguson's dynasty.
Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney scored a hat-trick on his debut against Fenerbahce after arriving as a teenager from Everton, having excelled for England at Euro 2004. He has been a key player for United for nearly a decade, scoring a career-best 27 league goals in 32 starts last season, but has had his problems at Old Trafford and is reported to have asked to leave for the second time in three years.
Ruud van Nistelrooy
Ruud van Nistelrooy - the best finisher in United's recent history? The Dutchman recovered from a serious knee injury to join United from PSV Eindhoven a year later than planned in 2001, and was unerring inside the penalty area as he became the club's record goalscorer in European competition.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will always be remembered for his part in perhaps Manchester United's most dramatic triumph. His stoppage-time winner in the 1999 Champions League final earned the club a historic treble and came after they had looked set for defeat by Bayern Munich in the Nou Camp. Solskjaer was known as the 'baby-faced assassin' and was ruthless as a substitute, a key component as Ferguson established the rotation of four strikers that season.
Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie may have only had one season at Old Trafford under Ferguson, but it has been a good one. The Dutchman was prised away from Arsenal last summer and hit the ground running, scoring 15 goals by Christmas and netting a hat-trick against Aston Villa last month as United won the Premier League title with four games to spare.
Dwight Yorke
Dwight Yorke arrived for big money from Aston Villa in the summer of 1998 but instantly delivered, scoring 29 goals in a memorable partnership with Andy Cole which fired United to the treble. Possibly his finest moment came when he scored two goals at the Nou Camp in a 3-3 draw with Barcelona in the group stages of the Champions League.
Andy Cole
In January 1995, Manchester United surprised English football with the signing of striker Andy Cole from Newcastle United. The prolific frontman joined Ferguson's side for a then-British record £7m. Following the retirement of Cantona, Cole formed a dangerous partnership with Yorke. Though never to recapture his form on the international stage for England, Cole won five league titles in his time at Old Trafford.

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