Man Utd: Maguire says winning trophies is next step
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Sir Alex Ferguson worked with a wealth of talent during his 26-season stint at Manchester United – but only one would be a certainty in his all-time XI at the club.
The Scot won 13 Premier League titles at Old Trafford, as well as two Champions League triumphs and two FA Cups.
Helping him achieve this were a number of high profile players. From academy stars Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes to shrewd transfer acquisitions Cristiano Ronaldo and Eric Cantona – the talent pool was enormous.
But in his second autobiography, Ferguson stated that only one would be the first name on his team sheet – and that man is Denis Irwin.
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The full-back spent over a decade at the club, making 529 appearances and winning seven league titles.
Irwin was a dependable left-back in Ferguson’s United team and rarely put a foot wrong – something noted by the big man himself.
“Now there was a player, Denis Irwin,” Ferguson penned.
“We always called him eight out of ten Denis. So quick and nimble: quick-brained. Never let you down. There was never any bad publicity with him.”
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Recalling the only mistake the Irishman made, Ferguson had the perfect response to the media who criticised him.
He wrote: “I remember a game at Arsenal when Denis allowed Dennis Bergkamp to score late in the match, and the press said: ‘Well, you’ll be disappointed with Denis.’
“I replied: ‘Aye, well, he’s been with me for eight or nine years and he’s never made a mistake, I think we can forgive him one.”
Describing Irwin as the “reliable professional on our books”, Ferguson went on to say that the defender would always have a place in his all-time XI.
“People ask you who is your best Man United team. It is absolutely impossible,” Ferguson said.
“You look at the strikers I had, going back to (Brian) McClair, (Mark) Hughes, (Andy) Cole, (Eric) Cantona, (Ruud) van Nistelrooy, (Louis) Saha, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, (Dwight) Yorke, Teddy Sheringham.
“Then to the present players, Wayne Rooney, (Robin) van Persie, Chicharito (Xavier Hernandez). How do you pick out of that? Cantona and somebody else?
“The midfield was probably a bit easier because you have (Roy) Keane, (Bryan) Robson and (Paul) Scholes, they were fantastic players and (David) Beckham, (Cristiano) Ronaldo and (Ryan) Giggs.
“But honestly, I would say Denis Irwin would be the one certainty to get in the team. I called him an eight out of 10.”
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