As we come to the end of 2015, ElWriteBack has started a new series which looks at different football clubs’ Ultimate XI from a supporter’s point of view. The first club on the list is Manchester United. I speak to lifelong fan, Jake Pointon as he reveals his United Ultimate XI.
GK: Peter Schmeichel – Deciding a goalkeeper was such a hard decision, both Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar were very good goalkeepers. However Schmeichel has to be the number one, simply because he had a massive influence on the whole team. He wasn’t just a good goalkeeper but he was also a general as he would commanded his defence as the perfect goalkeeper should do. All of the defence would know what to do as they wouldn’t stop hearing his voice throughout the whole match. He was an incredibly gifted goalkeeper, he would always make saves that should have been impossible for him to get to. He was also a massive asset to United as finding the perfect goalkeeper replacement has always been a struggle for United, however both him and Van der sar did more then just fill that space, Schmeichel made it his home and became one of the best goalkeepers to have ever played in the English Football Leagues.
RB: Gary Neville – Everyone knows that Gary Neville wasn’t necessarily one of the most naturally talented players, however he managed to make up for it with his determination and love for the game. For the full 90 minutes he would not stop running, he would constantly be offering the right midfielder an option and would also ensure that no one would get past him. He was one of many United players who was consistent and reliable. One of the things that sticks out for Gary Neville is how much he loved Manchester United, it was his dream to play for the club and that’s what gave him the determination to become the unforgettable player that he is.
CB: Jaap Stam – This might be a slightly weird choice as he wasn’t at United for long, however looking back at how he would play and the presence Stam had on the field, it would be hard for me not to put him in the team. Stam was a solid defender, he would win anything from a header to a simple standing tackle. He was simply a player that no striker would like to play against, mainly because they instantly knew that they were in for a rough match.
CB: Nemanja Vidić – Here we have another centre back that had an incredible presence within the United defence. He was also incredible in the air as he would win everything. He would always be able to read the game extremely well which allowed him to be able to intercept the ball. He was also an intelligent centre back as he commanded the back four whenever he played. He knew the game very well and was always able to judge when to push higher up the pitch or on the other hand, when it was the right time to drop back. In my opinion he is one of the best centre backs to have played in the Premier League.
LB: Denis Irwin – Irwin was never noticed for his outstanding performances, but every game he would always be incredible in a subtle type of way. Does that make sense? Well anyway he is one of the best fullbacks to have played for United. He probably never really got noticed as much as other United defenders for his performances, mainly because he would always have a good game. Irwin would always be running up and down the wing with ease. He would always stop any winger that would try to get past him, as he had a great ability which allowed him to read play. He would also helped out in the goals department scoring 33 for United, which is pretty good for a fullback! When you think of Denis Irwin you always think of consitantly good, and reliable full back. He was a great player.
RM: George Best – His name says it all. During his prime he was easily one of the best player to ever graced the pitch. He had this unique style of play where everything he did would just look effortless. He could receive the ball and run around the best defenders in the world making it look as if he was playing against an amateur side. No one had the same ability as Best did when he was on the ball. He might not have been the best when it came to his defensive duties, but he made up for this when he had the ball at his feet. Ever since his first game for United fans knew he would become something special.
CDM: Paul Scholes – Scholes is my all time favourite player. Many players, managers and club owners have all said that if they could work with one player then it would be Paul Scholes. That shows just how much of an incredible player he was. Throughout his career he never dropped to a low standard, and it was very rare that he would play badly. One of the best points with Scholes was that it was almost impossible that he wouldn’t make a pass to a player in a better position, no matter how long or short it was. He was the complete midfielder in my eyes. His vision, passing and link up play was some of the best that the world has ever seen. He would be able to pass the ball perfectly to anyone, anywhere on a full sized pitch, something that I’ve never seen another player do as well as him. He would also come up with some incredible goals, whenever he had a spare yard outside the box, you knew that he would probably put it into the back of the net easily, with both power and accuracy like you’ve never seen before. When he retired from the first team, the first match we played without Scholes you could see how much the team missed his presence on the field, he was simply irreplaceable. When he came back it was almost as if he’d never left, this was shown as he simply slotted straight back into the first team and everything was back to normal, working almost perfectly again. No other player that I have watched since Scholes retirement has had as much of an influence on the game as what Paul Scholes did during his career.
CAM: Bobby Charlton – Another player, alongside Ryan Giggs, that embodies what United is as a club. He’s scored a huge amount of goals in his career, 249 in total over 758 games. Not only is that an insane amount of goals to score, but he also scored most of them from midfield, unlike players such as Wayne Rooney, who is slowly creeping up on his record having played most of his days as a striker! One of the reasons he managed to get so many goals and games under his name was because he was an absolute workhorse. He would run up and down the pitch for the full 90 minutes without looking tired, but he was also incredibly technically gifted as well. This allowed him to have the vision to pick out his team mates or the ability to be able to dribble the ball around the opposite team to score goal after goal. There will never be another player that is as good as Sir Bobby Charlton, Rooney might match his record for goals, but that doesn’t mean that he is the same kind of quality as Sir Bobby.
LM: Ryan Giggs – If I had to pick one player that would represent United and what the club stands for, it would either be this man or Bobby Charlton. He managed to play on the left wing for almost all of his career, and still managed to get past players a fraction of his age with ease in his later years. He also had an excellent work rate and would run up and down the wing without stopping. Although he might not have been an individual player like Cristiano Ronaldo, he was still the perfect winger, with his dribbling skills, excellent crossing and also his ability as a great team leader. He also managed to play 963 times for United, whilst scoring 168 goals.
ST: Denis Law – Another United legend, he still stands as a statue at the Stretford End to show just how special this man was to United. The thing which made Law such an amazing player was that he simply loved the game. He had the spirit and flair to go with it as well. Along with his talent comes an incredible record of 237 goals in 404 apparances for the club.
ST: Ruud van Nistelrooy – This is one of the best strikers to have played for United and maybe even to have played in the Premier League. Ruud van Nistelrooy was certainly one of the most reliable players we have had in recent years with 150 goals in 219 games in his United career! For any player around the world in any league, that would be an incredible record. He wasn’t a player who was running around the pitch trying everything to be able to get a chance, instead he would take almost any chance given to him, meaning he simply knew where to be at the right time and place, you can’t teach that. It can only come naturally to you and that is why he’s one of United’s best strikers of all time.
Proofread by Alex Crowther of Crowther Media and Ben Foers.