Sir Alex Ferguson has listed Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona as the only four players that are worthy of the “world class” title. The Scot had managed a plethora of top players during his stay with Manchester United, spanning a whopping 26 years.
“They made the difference and the evidence is there. When we brought Eric Cantona in, we won the league that season. It was his mere presence and his ability to make and score goals,” Ferguson said.
“The younger breed like Ryan and Scholes were just fantastic players and the thing about those two was longevity. Are there players who have played right through the whole of the Premier League and performed at the level they have? There are none, absolutely none. And of course Ronaldo was just a complete genius of a player.”
There’s certainly no arguing against the four players, as they are well in the light of world class:
- Eric Cantona: has won 4 Premier League titles with Manchester United in just 5 seasons.
- Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs: Each having up to 500 league appearances and more for Manchester United, whilst garnering over 10 Premier League trophies each, with 2 UEFA Champions League trophies.
- Cristiano Ronaldo: Spent 6 years with Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, winning 4 Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League trophy, and the prestigious Ballon d’Or award.
What makes Ferguson’s quote so interesting, is that perhaps he has forgot some players. Or rather than forgot, but blatantly offer up that they were perhaps overrated.
There are some notable absentees, definitely. These players have an entire chapter dedicated to them in United’s legendary manager’s autobiography: My Autobiography (released the same year he retired from football).
- David Beckham
- Rio Ferdinand
- Ruud van Nistelrooy
- Wayne Rooney
- Roy Keane: Over 300 league appearances for Manchester United. Tenacious, ferocious leader both on and off the pitch. 7x Premier League winner, 1x UEFA Champions League winner, and 5x PFA Team of the Year.
It is not new news that Ferguson and Roy Keane, his former skipper don’t see eye to eye. Both of them have slandered each other in their respective books, but both are accepted as an integral part of Uniteds’ dominance in that specific era.
The former manager attempted to diminish Keane’s “hard-man” reputation, as the Old Trafford legend stated that the Portugal training camp for United was “beneath them”. Sir Alex wrote:
“…Roy erupted, issuing a long list of complaints, which included the air conditioning..”
As a case could be made for Keane, one can suggest that Ferguson did not name him among the four world-class players due to their hostility.
Could a case be made for Wayne Rooney, however? He is the current top goalscorer for England, and is closing in on the all-time top goal scorer for his club too. Ferguson always knew the former Everton man had an extraordinary amount of talent, but his frame and life choices may have prevented him from ever reaching the elusive “world class” stage of a player.
“Wayne needed to be careful. He has great qualities about him but they could be swallowed up by a lack of fitness. Look at the way Ronaldo or Giggs looked after themselves. Wayne needed to grasp the nettle.”
Perhaps Ferguson is correct in regards to Rooney. He has not yet accomplished the consistency of Giggs and Scholes. He has also not yet reached the influence of Cantona, and has definitely not reached the explosive levels of Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo.