Manchester United are the second most successful English club in terms of trophies, but for some their achievements over the last 30 years combined with their global presence make them the greatest team in the world
Cristiano Ronaldo named in Manchester United’s all-time greatest XI as chosen by an AI (Getty Images)
Manchester United’s all-time greatest XI have been named by an artificial intelligence website – and while Cristiano Ronaldo makes it, there’s no room in the line-up for the likes of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham or the club’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney.
Some of the best players in the world have worn United’s jersey throughout the club’s history, from the ‘Busby Babes’ to ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’ and beyond. Certainly at all positions there is no shortage of options when it comes to picking the all-time best line-up.
Interestingly, the selection made by the AI does not include anyone currently playing for the club. With that in mind, here’s a look at the selected XI.
In goal is Peter Schmeichel, the Dane who joined the Red Devils from Brondby in 1991 and became a key figure in a remarkably successful team under Sir Alex Ferguson. He made 398 appearances for United and won five Premier League titles during his time at the club.
Gary Neville is the chosen right-back. The Bury-born defender is among a select group of players who have played straight for United in their careers and have made over 600 appearances in a Red Devils shirt.
Gary Neville was Manchester United captain in 2002 (Getty Images)
Meanwhile, the two central defenders in the team are the duo of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. The pair played together for almost a decade at the Red Devils and won countless major awards including the Champions League in 2008. Ferdinand made 455 appearances for the club while Vidic reached exactly 300. Names like Gary Pallister, Bill Foulkes and Jaap Stam are missing.
On the left side of the back four is Dennis Irwin, who was part of the Ferguson side that enjoyed so much success in the 1990s. The Republic of Ireland international reached the peak of his power at United, playing at Leeds, Oldham and Wolves.
Central to the midfield are Roy Keane and Paul Scholes.
Keane, who joined Old Trafford from Nottingham Forest in 1993, is known for his uncompromising manner but was also a brilliant technician and a vital part of Ferguson’s side. Like Neville, Scholes was a one-club man and played 718 games for the Red Devils, scoring 155 goals.
Former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane (Getty Images), Eric Cantona and Sir Alex Ferguson (Getty Images)
There is no shortage of talent in the front four either. George Best is widely regarded as one of the most gifted players United have ever had thanks to his ability to single-handedly win games during the club’s heyday in the ’60s and early ’70s.
A second member of United’s so-called ‘Holy Trinity’, Sir Bobby Charlton, who was key to Busby, also makes it. He scored 249 goals in 758 games, a club record, before being overtaken by Rooney.
There are only two spots left and Ronaldo takes one of them. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is the biggest global name United have ever had for them as he is the most recognized footballer in history alongside Pele, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.
The other spot on the squad is Eric Cantona, who became a cult hero during his time at Old Trafford because of his personality and the way he performed on the pitch. Despite recording the fewest appearances in a United shirt for the team (185), Cantona was picked ahead of club heroes like Rooney, Ruud van Nistelrooy and third member of United’s “Holy Trinity” Denis Law.
Here’s Man Utd’s XI, picked entirely by the AI: Schmeichel; Neville, Ferdinand; Vidic, Irwin; Keane, Scholes; Best, B. Charlton, Ronaldo, Cantona.
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