Denis Irwin in Ferguson's all-time XI
Ferguson: What we learned
Sir Alex Ferguson says it is “impossible” for him to select a definitive all-time Manchester United team from his 26-year reign at Old Trafford -- and named Denis Irwin as the only certain selection.
Speaking at the latest of his theatre appearances to promote his much-discussed autobiography in his hometown of Glasgow, Ferguson said he would have trouble naming his ultimate strike force, although he suggested Eric Cantona is slightly ahead of the rest.
“People ask you: 'Who is your best Man United team?' and it’s absolutely impossible,” the former Old Trafford boss is quoted as saying on sundayworld.com.
“It is absolutely impossible. You look at the strikers I had, going back to [Brian] McClair, [Mark] Hughes, [Andy] Cole, Cantona, [Ruud] van Nistelrooy, [Louis] Saha, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, [Dwight] Yorke, Teddy Sheringham.
“Then to the present players -- Wayne Rooney, [Robin] van Persie, Chicharito [Javier Hernandez]. How do you pick out of that? Cantona and somebody else maybe?”
In his autobiography, Ferguson described Cristiano Ronaldo as the “most gifted player” he ever managed, yet he refused to confirm the Portugal star in his midfield selection.
“The midfield was probably a bit easier because you have [Roy] Keane, [Bryan] Robson and [Paul] Scholes -- they were fantastic players -- and [David] Beckham, Ronaldo and [Ryan] Giggs,” he said.
In defence, he said former Republic of Ireland full-back Irwin -- a 625,000 pound signing from Oldham Athletic in 1990 -- was the only name he would not hesitate to include in the all-time XI.
“Honestly, I would say Denis Irwin would be the one certainty to get in the team. I called him an eight out of 10,” Ferguson said.
“At Highbury in one game, he had a bad pass back in the last minute and [Dennis] Bergkamp came in and scored. After the game the press said: ‘You must be disappointed in that pass back.’ I said: ‘Well, one mistake in 10 years isn’t bad.’ He was an unbelievable player.”