Paul Ince disagrees with Gary Neville’s claim that Manchester United’s 2008 Premier League and Champions League winning side were the greatest in the club’s history – claiming the former right-back was ‘way off the mark’.
The former United and Liverpool midfielder instead thinks the 1994 side – of which he was a part – was stronger, claiming only Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney would get into their squad.
Neville had previously told Sky Sports of the 2008 side: ‘I don’t think Manchester United have ever had a team that had so many world-class players, and I look back at all the teams in history.’
But Ince was not convinced, telling the Evening Standard: ‘I disagree with that. If you take out Ronaldo and Rooney – Gary Neville was one of the best right-backs in the world.
‘I’m not going to say (Patrice) Evra was a better left-back than Denis Irwin, that’s for sure. Pallister was similar to Rio (Ferdinand) in the way they play. We know how great Brucey was for Man United.
‘The midfield wouldn’t touch our midfield in 94 and then you’ve got obviously Ronaldo and Rooney who were world-class, but Cantona was world-class.
‘When I look at that overall 2008 team, in my opinion there is probably only Rooney and Ronaldo, definitely, I’d have in my team.
‘People forget how good Denis Irwin was. Football has changed, it gets quicker and [with] social media and radio with fans ringing in, players get more highlighted than in our time.
‘If you watch Denis Irwin play, two-footed, took free-kicks, scored penalties, I don’t see many left-backs doing that. I didn’t see Evra doing that. I’ve got to disagree with Gary Neville there, I think he was way off the mark.’
Ince is also confident the 1994 side would beat United’s treble-winning 1999 squad.
‘I look at the 99 team that won the Treble, our United team would have beat them,’ he added. ‘Not convincingly, but we would have beat them.
‘We had too much. We had Cantona, Hughes, Schmeichel, even Robson coming to the end of his career.
‘When I look at Man United teams – and that’s not me being biased – I think that 94 team was one of, if not the, best team.
‘It was the best team as far as Sir Alex had because we had so many big characters, so many leaders, so many egos, so many arguments.
‘What Sir Alex could do was bring us all together on game day and play the way that we played. That’s why I think that was the toughest job for him. People don’t realise how hard it was to deal with us lot from Monday to Friday, and Archie Knox and Brian Kidd. It wasn’t easy.
‘The game has changed, but in our time you could tackle, you could get stuck in. The five-a-sides or eight-a-sides were fiery. There was swearing at each other, pushing, retaliations. All that type of stuff. It wouldn’t happen today as much as it did in our time.
‘When something is said, whether it was me, Keaney, Brucey, Schmeichel, they stand by it and that can cause conflicts and arguments.
‘That doesn’t say we weren’t very good friends. When we went onto the pitch we fought for each other and that was the good thing about us. We all had our own ideas and how we should play and what we should be doing, but when we went out on that pitch we had one message and we all stuck to that.
‘And that’s why it was a great team. And I don’t think many teams through Man United’s eras would be better than that team.’
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