Sir Alex Ferguson's all-time Manchester United XI

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson proudly displays the FA Cup and Premier League trophies
© PA Photos
Sports Mole puts together the best team from Sir Alex Ferguson's time in charge of Manchester United.

Having spent 27 years in charge of Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed this morning that he will step down from his position at the end of the current campaign.

Down the years the Scot has put together some memorable teams that have won numerous trophies.

So, with that in mind, Sports Mole has looked back down the years to select the best team from Ferguson's tenure.


Goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel with his arms aloft after Manchester United win the Champions League in 1999.© PA Photos

Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel

The goalkeeping position had been a real problem for Ferguson to solve after he had taken charge in 1986. However, it was fixed by Schmeichel, who reportedly cost just £505,000 in 1991. The Dane played a key role in United's first league title in 26 years in 1993, and went on to win four more with the club. Even during his last season, when some had questioned if his best days were behind him, he produced some top-class displays as United won the Treble.


Gary Neville celebrating a goal for Manchester United against Manchester City.© PA Photos

Right-back: Gary Neville

The one-club man was everything you could want from a full-back - steady, disciplined and Ferguson knew he could rely on him. That is why Neville made just over 600 appearances for United before his retirement in 2011. Among his honours are eight Premier League medals.


Rio Ferdinand© PA Photos

Centre-back: Rio Ferdinand

Eyebrows were raised when Ferguson parted with £30m to land Ferdinand from Leeds United in 2002. However, over the years the England defender has proved himself to be one of the best ball-playing centre-backs that the Premier League has ever seen. Even with his recent injury problems, Ferguson more often than not finds a place for the 34-year-old in the biggest matches.


Jaap Stam in action for Manchester United in 2001© PA Photos

Centre-back: Jaap Stam

Many will be demanding that current captain Nemanja Vidic is placed alongside Ferdinand in this lineup. After all, former Dutch international Stam spent just three years with the club. Such was his impact though that Ferguson has admitted that he should never have parted with Stam in 2001 following a disagreement between the pair regarding the defender's autobiography. Stam also possessed that turn of pace that Vidic lacks.


Denis Irwin playing for Manchester United© PA Photos

Left-back: Denis Irwin

Ferguson has gone on record numerous times to praise the qualities that Irwin possessed. He could play right-back or left-back, was dependable from the penalty spot and even scored some free kicks. From a defensive point of view he rarely let the side down.


Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring a free kick for Manchester United against Arsenal in 2009.© PA Photos

Right-wing: Cristiano Ronaldo

The Portuguese international arrived at Old Trafford in 2003 as a skinny 18-year-old who quickly gained a reputation as a flashy player who was often frustrating. He left though in 2009 for Real Madrid as one of the two best players in world football. During the season that United lifted the Premier League and Champions League trophies in 2008, Ronaldo scored 42 goals in 49 outings.


Paul Scholes© PA Photos

Centre-midfield: Paul Scholes

It's widely known that there once a time when United considered releasing a young Scholes because of worries over his size and physical presence. Ferguson stuck with the local lad though and he rewarded his manager by becoming a midfielder with a keen eye for goal. During the 2002-2003 season, Scholes netted 20 goals as United won the title.


Roy Keane smiling after scoring a goal for Manchester United.© PA Photos

Centre-midfield: Roy Keane

They may not be the best of friends these days as a result of the circumstances surrounding Keane's departure in 2005 but before that, Ferguson and the Irishman were a real force. The fiery midfielder was Ferguson's leader, both in the dressing room and on the pitch. He won 17 honours during his 12 years at Old Trafford, many of which as captain.


Ryan Giggs© PA Photos

Left-wing: Ryan Giggs

There is nothing that can be said about Giggs that hasn't been quoted already. The Welshman was given his league debut by Ferguson in 1991 and remains a key member of the squad. Today he often plays in the centre of the pitch, but it was on the left-hand side where he really made a name for himself as a quick and tricky winger. He also scored arguably the most memorable goal of Ferguson's tenure against Arsenal during the 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay at Villa Park.


Eric Cantona celebrating a goal for Manchester United in 1997.© PA Photos

Centre-forward: Eric Cantona

Without Ferguson securing the services of Cantona in November 1992, the club may not have won their first league title in 26 years a few months later. The wait could have gone on and on. Cantona did sign though and with the mercurial striker came a period of success. Such was his talent and worth to the team that Ferguson stuck by him when he was banned for eight months for the infamous 'kung-fu kick' on a Crystal Palace supporter.


Ruud van Nistelrooy wheels away after scoring for Manchester United.© PA Photos

Centre-forward: Ruud van Nistelrooy

Ferguson had so much belief in Van Nistelrooy that he still signed the Holland international after he had suffered a serious cruciate ligament injury. Van Nistelrooy provided the team with the predatory instincts up front that had not been seen since Denis Law. 150 goals during a five-year period tells its own story.

Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates winning the Premier League with Man Utd on April 22, 2013
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