Five of the best players not to make G Neville’s Man Utd ultimate foreign XI
Gary Neville was spoilt for choice when recently selecting his all-time Manchester United XI made up entirely of foreign players, but there were still a few eyebrow-raising selections from the former Old Trafford hero.
After being asked to name his XI on Twitter, Neville replied with the following line-up: Peter Schmeichel; Rafael, Nemanja Vidic, Jaap Stam, Patrice Evra; Cristiano Ronaldo, Juan Sebastian Veron, Bruno Fernandes, Carlos Tevez; Eric Cantona, Ruud van Nistelrooy.
We’ve taken a look at six players who might consider themselves unlucky not to make the cut.
Perhaps the most eye-catching area of Neville’s selection came in central midfield.
Juan Sebastian Veron may not have been as successful as hoped at Old Trafford, but he was more the right man at the wrong time rather than the complete flop he is often cast as. Meanwhile, it’s difficult to argue with the impact Bruno Fernandes has made on the current United team, but has he really done enough to earn selection after less than 12 months at the club?
We’re left feeling most sorry for Park. He may never have been one of the star names at United, but the esteem he was held in by Sir Alex Ferguson sums up just important he was for the club.
“The great thing about Ji-Sung Park is he’s one of the best professionals we’ve had here,” Fergie said. “He was truly fantastic, and particularly in big games. I loved playing him in the big games.”
We can fully understand why Neville felt like he had to get Carlos Tevez into his XI – despite their recent spat – shoehorning him onto the left wing.
Given Neville’s front six would almost make Garth Crooks blush, we shouldn’t take this too seriously, but it does mean he has neglected a couple of players considered more natural in the position.
Nani’s reputation as a frustrating talent belies his success at Old Trafford, where he won four league titles, a Champions League and a Players’ Player of the Year award before things turned sour under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal (he wasn’t the only one to suffer that particular fate).
Spare a thought too for fellow winger Andrei Kanchelskis, one of the Premier League’s first foreign stars and scorer of a Premier League hat-trick against Manchester City – albeit a bit of a lunatic.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
It’s hard to argue with Eric Cantona and Ruud van Nistelrooy leading the line, but then what about the man who scored arguably the most iconic goal in the club’s history?
We originally had another star of that 1998-99 Treble team, Dwight Yorke, in here, only for a closer look at Solskjaer’s record to convince us he’s actually been quite unlucky not to make Neville’s team.
The Norwegian helped the club win more trophies and enjoyed more campaigns in which he registered double figures for goals that any of the other aforementioned strikers, despite often being used as a super-sub rather than a regular starter. His accent does make him an honorary Mancunian, however, so perhaps Neville considers his former team-mate a local lad these days.
Anyway, we’re not gonna lie, we’d absolutely love to see a partnership of Cantona and Van Nistelrooy.
Do we really want to get into this? Not really, no. He’s certainly the most expensive player to miss out on the team.
The inclusion of Rafael at right-back did attract some scorn, but given the Brazilian took up Neville’s mantle of United’s snarling little shithouse in the No.2 shirt, we’re not going to argue.
Valencia may consider himself a little unlucky, though. While things may have fizzled out at one stage for the Ecuadorian, under Jose Mourinho he was described as “the best right-back in the world” by a manager infamous for being difficult to impress.
Just don’t talk about his season in the No.7 shirt.