Manchester United: The best defenders of the Ferguson era

By on 22nd February 2022

“Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.”

– Sir Alex Ferguson

 

Manchester United might be the most successful club in England. But there is no doubt that they are one of the most popular football clubs in the world.

Sir Alex Ferguson with United has won everything that there is to win at a club level. His influence and presence at Manchester United cannot be quantified.

All of his Manchester United teams had a strong defense, as his philosophy was that of attack will win you matches yes, but in the long run, it is the defensive stability that will win you titles.

Times may be turbulent at the club at this present moment, and unlike the past, their defense is mediocre at best.

But, let’s turn our clock back to the glory days of Manchester United, and figure out who the best defenders were during the Ferguson era when they won so many titles!

Denis Irwin

Denis Irwin is the personification of the word “dependable.” Throughout his 12 years at United, the full-back was consistently reliable and looked incapable of having a bad game.

Irwin was one of just a few players to have played in both of Sir Alex Ferguson’s first two great United sides, appearing in over 530 games in all.

Gary Neville

Gary Neville is one of only five players in United history to have appeared in over 600 games. It may have been even higher if his injuries hadn’t piled up in his thirties.

From 1995 until 2005, Neville was an automatic starter. He won the Premier League eight times, was named to the PFA Team of the Year five times, and eventually became club captain.

Steve Bruce

Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister created a defensive connection that led to a slew of championships.

As far as center-backs go, Bruce wore his heart on his sleeve and never shied away from a challenge, which occasionally resulted in him faring fair worse than his opponents.

Despite this, he was a Trojan defender.

In addition, Bruce was one of those defenders who had a propensity for finding the back of the net, as seen by his 51 goals for United.

He was also the first English player to captain a double-winning team in the twentieth century.

Nemanja Vidic

Nemanja Vidic garnered United’s interest after his defensive displays for his national side Serbia during the FIFA World Cup qualifying stages, where they conceded only one goal throughout the campaign.

The towering Serbian won five Premier League titles during his seven-and-a-half years at Old Trafford.

He was the constant on which United’s extraordinary record run of 14 consecutive league clean sheets was constructed in 2008/09. With rotating partners owing to injury, he was also the constant on which United’s remarkable record run of 14 consecutive league clean sheets was created.

Rio Ferdinand

Like Bruce and Pallister before, Rio Ferdinand and Vidic go together.

Ferdinand was a more technically polished player, and his controlled style, which centered on reading the game and playing on the cover, complimented his partner’s more aggressive characteristics.

He cost United a world record £30 million and proved to be worth every penny over 455 games.

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