A Manchester United XI to rival Keane's all-time Premier League greats

The veteran Dutchman, an Old Trafford icon and the midfield party boy… Roy Keane left some huge names out of his all-time Manchester United XI (including himself!), so here’s a starting line-up that could give the Irishman’s picks a run for their money

  • Roy Keane selected his all-time Manchester United XI on Monday Night Football
  • The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney were selected by Keane
  • There was no place in the XI for Paul Scholes, Eric Cantona or Rio Ferdinand
  • Here, Sportsmail selects a team that could give Keane’s squad a game 

Roy Keane caused quite a stir with his all-time Manchester United XI in the Premier League era that he revealed on Monday Night Football.

Keane had a plethora of United greats to choose from but there was no place for the likes of Paul Scholes, Eric Cantona and Rio Ferdinand in his squad.

The Irishman’s formidable team got us thinking about an alternative side which could give the one picked by Keane a run for their money.

Roy Keane revealed his all-time Manchester United XI from the Premier League era on Monday

There was no place in the side for Paul Scholes, Keane’s long-time central midfield partner

Rio Ferdinand (left), considered one of the greatest defenders of all time, was not chosen

Keane did not make it easy, selecting players that would have walked into any greatest United XI and who held their positions for so long that it was hard to find suitable replacements.

But there were several notable omissions – and not just Scholes, Cantona and Ferdinand.

Do the trio make it this time? Who have we picked in the key positions at the back and in the engine room? Read on for Sportsmail‘s attempt at rivalling Keane’s XI.

Goalkeeper – Edwin van der Sar

Van der Sar nearly made Keane’s XI and – just about – beats David de Gea to the gloves in our team.

Edwin van der Sar was nearly selected by Keane but he plumped for Peter Schmeichel

The Dutchman, who made 266 appearances in six years at Old Trafford, was a staple of the United side which won three consecutive Premier League titles and the Champions League.

He famously saved Nicolas Anelka’s penalty in the 2008 Champions League final in the pouring rain in Moscow and once went a then-record 1,311 minutes without conceding a goal in the league. The very definition of a safe pair of hands.

Right-back – Paul Parker

The right side of defence was one of the hardest positions to select, given the monopoly Gary Neville held over the role 

Parker, who was eventually replaced by Neville, had his injury problems but still made nearly 150 appearances for the Red Devils between 1991 and 1996, winning two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the League Cup during his spell with the club.

He edges out effervescent Brazilian Rafael da Silva to secure his place in the team.

Centre-back – Steve Bruce

This was without doubt the toughest call to make. Nemanja Vidic is a cult hero at United, having been plucked from relative obscurity by Ferguson before going on to win trophy after trophy in the formidable United team of the late 2000s, but has been overlooked for Bruce.

Bruce was a staple of the successful United team in the early 1990s under Sir Alex Ferguson

Bruce played over 400 matches under Ferguson and was a vital member of the team which ended the club’s 26-year wait for the top-flight title in 1993.

His two goals in a comeback victory over Sheffield Wednesday proved decisive and sparked iconic celebrations from Ferguson and Brian Kidd on the touchline. A true United great.

Centre-back – Rio Ferdinand

Ferdinand was always going to get the nod here. Signed for £30million from United’s bitter rivals Leeds in 2002 and regarded as one of England’s greatest ever defenders, he went on to make 455 appearances in more than two decades at the club.

Rio Ferdinand played for United for 12 years and was a key part of Ferguson’s back four

He was among the first to bring grace and poise to a position typically dominated by more physical and rugged defenders, with an ease on the ball that few have been able to match.

Ferdinand won countless major honours at United and left as one of the best centre-halves to ever wear the famous red shirt. 

Left-back – Patrice Evra

Another key cog in United’s title-winning machine. After a tough start in England, Evra won five Premier League titles and the Champions League during his successful stint at Old Trafford, where he was known to be a strong and vocal presence in the dressing room.

Patrice Evra was a hugely popular member of the squad during his time at Old Trafford

French left-back Evra won five Premier League titles, including three in a row between 2007 and 2009

The Frenchman also brought charisma and personality to the club, and famously forged an unlikely friendship with Carlos Tevez and Park Ji-sung – despite neither being able to speak each other’s language.

Evra stepped into the void left by Gabriel Heinze, another possible inclusion for this side, and was signed in the same transfer window as Vidic: the glory days when United got their transfers – mostly – right.

Right midfield – Andrei Kanchelskis

Kanchelskis may have only been in Manchester for four years but the impact he made in that time is more than worthy of a place in Keane’s alternative XI.

A rare foreigner playing in the country’s top league, he helped United to back-to-back titles in the early years of the Premier League and is still fondly remembered on the terraces at Old Trafford.

Fans of a certain vintage will no doubt be longing for his wizardry and energy down the right flank, which has been notably absent at United for several years.

Centre midfield – Paul Scholes

A glaring omission from Keane’s team, Scholes was one of the first names on the teamsheet for this squad.

Scholes made a whopping 718 appearances for United having initially retired before being coaxed back onto the field by the persuasive Ferguson amid a midfield injury crisis at the club in 2012.

Just the 11 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues and three FA Cups in Scholes’ collection.

Scholes initially retired but was coaxed back into playing by Ferguson in the 2011-2012 season

Centre midfield – Roy Keane

Keane said on Monday Night Football that he was ‘certainly not going to pick myself’ – but few would have argued with the fiery Irishman if he had done so.


(4-4-2:) Edwin Van der Sar; Paul Parker, Rio Ferdinand, Steve Bruce, Patrice Evra; Andrei Kanchelskis, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Lee Sharpe; Eric Cantona, Ruud van Nistelrooy.

When you think of United’s central midfield, you think of Keane. Captain Fantastic. He was instrumental to the club’s success and will go down as one of the all-time greats.

Michael Carrick, perhaps the most underrated United player in history, Darren Fletcher and Brian McClair were also not far away from being picked here.

Left midfield – Lee Sharpe

Sharpe is one of the ultimate ‘what could have been’ players for United after an injury-ravaged career, but he did more than enough when he was fit to justify selection.

The supremely talented Sharpe, who had a reputation as a party boy, could also have been chosen on the right side of midfield but sneaks in on the left.

Eight years at the club, which included plenty of run-ins with Ferguson, yielded 190 appearances, three Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the European Cup Winners Cup. 

Keane was an inspirational figure for United on and off the pitch before leaving the club in 2005

Forward – Eric Cantona

There were several candidates for the front two positions but Cantona is an absolute no-brainer. 

Few players in the club’s history have had the transformative effect of Cantona – Eric the King to United fans.

The swashbuckling Frenchman did things his own way, bringing a blend of aggression and ingenuity that catapulted United to the pinnacle of the English game.

Forward – Ruud van Nistelrooy

Unquestionably one of the greatest strikers of all time, the Dutchman was more than just a poacher – even if the vast majority of his United goals came from inside the box.

Eric Cantona had a transformative effect on United after signing from Leeds in 1992

Formidable Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy was a goalscoring machine at Old Trafford

He fully justified the £18.5million United spent to sign him from PSV Eindhoven in 2001 – he had been due to sign the previous year before a nasty injury initially curtailed the deal – with 150 goals in 219 appearances for the Red Devils.

Van Nistelrooy remains the club’s second all-time European goalscorer, behind Wayne Rooney, and was the first player to score twice on debut for United.

Those missing out on the forward slots include Mark Hughes, Robin van Persie, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke. 

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