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Greatest Ever United... Really?

Sir Alex Ferguson claims this is the most talented squad he's ever managed. Is it really?

Nani, Anderson, Owen Hargreaves, Carlos Tevez. Not bad names to add to a championship-winning side, already boasting players like Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Louis Saha.

Sir Alex is well within his rights to claim he's never had a better squad at his disposal. And there are plenty of arguments to suggest it's true.

Between the sticks, Van der Sar's been impressive ever since he had joined from Fulham but never reached the brilliance of Peter Schmeichel. The defense is as solid as ever - and less prone to lapses of concentration than even the famous Bruce-Pallister partnership. On skill, Rio and Vidic are far superior than their predecessors but not as tough and intimidating.

Patrice Evra, while showing great promise, has to do awfully much to be compared to the great Denis Irwin but on the other flank, Gary Neville's been in the form of his life last season and he's undoubtedly United's greatest ever right-back.

Midfield. Now that's tricky. I'd say that the Beckham-Scholes-Keane-Giggs quartet is unsurpassable, it's the best midfield of the past 20 years or so. Kanchelskis, Sharpe, Ince, Robson with Keane and Giggs again come close to it, as the famous 1994 side dominated almost all of their opponents with this intimidating set of players.

And the current one? Ronaldo is brilliant yet still inconsistent, Scholes has improved with age (not his tackling though), Michael Carrick is a type of player we've never had - a silky passer as a defensive midfielder. Owen Hargreaves could turn out to be a huge success and I have faith in him - comparing him to Roy Keane is a mistake, he's much rather like Paul Ince, a telling tackler but not such a forceful personality as the Irishman.

Giggs has widened the range of his skills recently and is still great for us, I have no doubts about that. The new signings, Anderson and Nani add even more technical excellence to the squad but are unproven in England. The potential and the talent is there, though.

Up front. Forget Eric Cantona, he's the one and only striker, we'll never have another Eric just as we'll never have another Roy Keane. In terms of understanding each other, the Cole-Yorke partnership is unbeatable, just as Canto is in terms of sheer brilliance. Yet the current crop, in terms of talent, stands up to any comparison: Rooney, Tevez, Saha are all technically excellent and the former two have fantastic fighting spirit, something Fergie always valued.

Squad depth: I think it'd be hard to argue that we never had such a big squad. We have cover in every position and will have quality players on the bench to turn matches if we need to.

So what's the verdict? I think such comparisons are difficult to make. In terms of technique and skills, this team is head and shoulders above any previous ones. So I might agree with Fergie that this is the most talented squad he's ever had. However, I'd strongly argue that this does not mean that it is the best ever the squad he's had. That would mean we are obliged to win the Quadruple, something that's very, very unlikely to happen.

As all of his best teams, this one will be able to attack at pace and tear opponents apart with skill. The defense is solid and we have better goalkeepers than we've ever had since the departure of the Big Dane. However, there's one more thing. It might sound obvious but it's relevant: football has changed dramatically since Fergie's first great team. The 1994 and even the 1999 teams encountered different opponents, faced different challenges. And that makes comparisons almost impossible though I'd like to think I made a valiant effort to do it*.

But of course its achievements that can tell great teams apart. If we win the Premiership and the Champions League, I'll be forced to conclude that this is Fergie's greatest ever team, for such a feat would be more impressive than the 1999 Treble - and more difficult, I think.

*Modesty might not be my strongest point




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The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday August 6 2007

Time: 2:21PM

Your Comments

u sure get a lot of replies from fellow mancs. on the topic, the only aspect that this united has an upper hand on the old one is squad depth.
G4L
time will tell ?
Eddie01
It surely will, Eddie.
Zae
i think you will if Tevez does actualy sign
upthedale
Surely nothing could block that now, upthedale? Though one might have a point when saying that anything could happen in that transfer...
Zae
All good deals for Utd, bar Tevez. The Guy is all hype I tell you.
adztheyid
And what makes you say that, dear Yid? Would love to hear your reasons.
Zae
not sure about best ever. surely have to do the treble again for that??? not sure about tevez either. got the ability as shown in 2nd half of season at west ham, but just not sure about him
daspecial1
No offence but I can't really say why people say they are unsure about Tevez. I think ANY new signing is unsure to succeed, you can never say it for certain - so it's not something special that you have doubts about Tevez. I had doubts about Rooney and Yorke and Cole and Sheringham. Not because I'm stupid (or not ONLY because of that) but because you can never know.
midlothian99
i dont know i dont think it is the greatest ever but has the potential in 2 or 3 years with all our new young lads rooney ronaldo tevez nani anderson pique evans gibson
allred
rooney and tevez im sure will be great, but i think they will need to go a long way to beat the cole-yorke partnership
united4life
I think he's just raising expectation in his players, he makes comments like those. And all his players puff their chest out, and try to live upto his expectation
Topspur1
people will be expecting too much from man utd this year and i dont think some of the players will be able to handle the added pressure. everyone is expecting a really strong united and altought they will win the league this year i think it may be the only thing they win, perhaps the fa cup. on the other hand when you look at the competion in the cl there are no teams that any1 should really fear so united have as goood a chance as any.
rk1888
i just dont think that the rooney-tevez partnership will hit it off. i feel they're too similar with their style of play
daspecial1
rk1888, if we indeed win "only" the league, I'll be absolutely satisfied - unlike Fergie, I'm not obsessed with the European Cup :-)
midlothian99
 

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