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Henry Kibirige - Fergies best team

fans viewsThis week Henry looks at Fergies comments about this squad being the best he's had in his time at Untied and analyses all the areas of this team compared to previous years squads.

Whenever Fergie says something, you listen and respect his views. His experience, track record and status in the game means that you learn from his comments, and often find it hard to argue against him.

This week, he got United fans talking, as he declared that he firmly believes that this is the best squad he has produced in the 21 years he’s been at Old Trafford.

With Nani, Anderson and Hargreaves arriving in the summer, some United fans argued that the present squad has hardly been together long enough to suggest that they can reach the heights of the 1994 squad. Or even win enough trophies to emulate the standards the 1999 squad set.

But Fergie told the press that he believes that this squad only needs to achieve success to prove that he’s right.
I can see where Fergie’s coming from a bit. There’s certainly a great mix of experience in Scholes, Giggs and Neville, as well as youth in Nani, Anderson, Pique, Ronaldo and many more.

There are also leaders on the pitch. The obvious is Gary Neville, but unknown leaders like Ferdinand at the back, Giggsy and even Rooney can have authority.

You must have quality and class in a world beating squad. The sort of players that can change a game with a moment of brilliance. Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez can, and even Paul Scholes. He might be getting on a bit but his vision and creativity is still invaluable.

If the starting eleven aren’t performing, the manager must be sure that there’s someone to fill in. O’Shea, Pique, Park and Saha can make up a sensational bench. There must be reliability and consistency, especially at the back. Vidic, Ferdinand and Gary Neville have been solid for a long time. Even though he has hardly featured, Hargreaves has put in solid performances whenever he’s out on the pitch.  A major thing a manager wants in his squad is passion and desire. I think that almost every single player in the squad is willing to put their foot in.

Past United squads have certainly had all this, so I’ve decided to pick the best keepers, defenders, midfielders and attackers Fergie has managed, and compare them to some of the players now.
Between the posts you’d be stupid to argue against Peter Schmeichel being the best. The huge Dane commanded his penalty area with utter skill and ability. Whenever a shot came through, you would expect to see the giant leaping to block it’s path to goal.

He was also a great leader. In the quiet moments of game, his thundering voice could be heard in all four corners of Old Trafford, ordering vital instructions to the back four. Schmeichel was the best keeper United have ever had, and that suggests to current United keepers that they are massive boots to fill.

Van Der Sar probably comes the closest in comparison of Schmeichel. He’s an experienced keeper, who can also pull off a few world class saves hear and there. Unfortunately he can have a few concentration problems, and his bond with the back four isn’t as strong as Schmeichel’s.

However, Fergie has installed plenty of options in the goalkeeping area. Ben Foster and Kuszczak are decent keepers who can fill in for Van Der Sar.

It’s a known fact in football, that if you don’t have a defence, you don’t have anything. You can be the best attacking team in the world, but if you can’t stop the other team from scoring, then there’s always a chance you might lose. If you don’t concede, you can’t lose.

Fergie has enjoyed rich quality at the back. Steve Bruce was a leader and a fighter. He put his body on the line to stop the opposition from scoring. As well as this, he was great in the air and often caused the opposition defence havoc during set pieces.

Nemanja Vidic is just like Brucey. He puts his foot in where it hurts and never gave strikers time and space. His heading ability is a joy to watch. He times his runs well and executes with unstoppable bullet headers.
In my young life, I think the he’s goal against Everton this season was the best header I’ve ever seen. His long run and the way he attacked the ball was sensational. It’s the sort of header coaches all around the world try to teach to kids.

Bruce and Vidic can also pick game up by the scruff of it’s neck and score vital goals. Bruce’s header won United the league in 93, while Vidic’s goal against Benfica secured United progress to the knockout stages of the Champion’s League a few years ago. But Vidic isn’t much of a leader (probably because he doesn’t speak very good English), but he’s got Ferdinand and Neville doing the job. Neville to me is Mr Consistency, like Denis Irwin. He works hard and despite sometimes having a few shaky performances, he’s overall a very consistent player.

Ferdinand can lack concentration sometimes, but he’s coolness in defence is invaluable as it helps youngsters learn not to panic. He’s also a very popular player who the rest of the squad respect.

A midfielder’s job more often than not is to bomb up to help the attack, and also track back to support the defence if needed. There have been a fair number of world class midfielders to step unto the Old Trafford pitch.
Roy Keane was a defensive midfielder who the opposition dreaded to be pronounced by the PA guy. His no nonsense approach and passionate personality always meant that he demanded 110% from his team mates.
I find it hard to think of someone like that in this squad. I think we have to respect that Keane was a one off. However Hargreaves is a brilliant defensive midfielder, who prefers to go about his work quietly.

Ronaldo is a speedy winger like Kanchelskis. His pace gives defenders nightmares, and his rapidly improving link-up play is a joy to watch.

Ronaldo can also be compared to Beckham in the sense that he never drops his head. The In-Ger-land ‘fans’ berated Beckham after the 98 World Cup and Ronaldo after 2006. They both played through the abuse and with help from the United fans, their unstoppable performances quietened the boo boys.

They can also both win games on their own. Moments of magic from them can turn the game United’s way. Beckham produced mind blowing free kick and long range passes, while last minute goals by Ronaldo including the Fulham one proved pivotal.

One of Fergie’s two best midfielders are still in the squad now. Paul passing ability is second to none, while Giggs’ wing play and loyalty is unforgettable.
As well as this, Fergie has got great cover if midfielders are dipping in form. The stamina of Park Ji Sung, work rate of Darren Fletcher and versatility of O’Shea are important factors.
Past squads had this, as Nicky Butt proved on that night in Barcelona when he had to fill in for the suspended Roy Keane.

You would normally rely on strikers to get the goals, but the squad we have now score from all sorts of positions. But United still now have top quality people upfront.

Wayne Rooney is probably best described as Cantona. Both are fiery and determined and come up with magical goals. However, Cantona brought a special presence and atmosphere the moment he arrived. His personality meant that he was a one off.

The way Carlos Tevez plays reminds me of Mark Hughes. He links up well with the midfield, and his power and strength suggests that he can hold the ball up all day.

So after all this, I realise that Fergie might have spoken too soon. Despite there being a lot of potential to be the best squad, there have to be trophies to prove so.
Until we win the Champions League and a few titles with this squad, I will at least consider it being the best squad. This is because past squads consisted of too many one offs. Cantona, Robson, Schmeichel and Irwin are some of them. The squad now does have the quality, but no player has the one-off status.

By Henry Kibirige

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