Born Offside

Born Offside

  • Born Offside - General Football Blog


    Originally a twinkle in the eye of one man who likes to read obscure football blogs when he‘s in the bath, Born Offside has grown into a community of football fanatics who have several things in common;

    1) We love football.

    2) We pretend that we‘re experts at all things football.

    3) We like to write, podcast, play and generally talk about the beautiful game.

    The team includes journalists, techies, students, geeks and a Scotsman.



    Date Added: 20/01/14

    Last Checked: 30/10/15

    Date Updated At Last Check: 27/09/15

    Included in the FBD
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  • A Class Apart – The World Class Players Fergie Missed Off His List

    Posted on September 27, 2015

    Sir Alex Ferguson seems to have released more books than J K Rowling but in his latest he has claimed that in his time as Manchester United manager he has only managed four world class players, Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo.

    It’s hard to argue that any of that quartet, at some point, were anything but world class but it raises an interesting point. In his nearly 30 years at Old Trafford, with all those league titles and domestic cups and two Champions League wins surely Fergie managed more than four of the most elite in the world.

    The likes of Peter Schmeichel, Edwin Van Der Sar, Rio Ferdinand, Jaap Stam, Roy Keane, Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Eric Djemba-Djemba and Ruud Van Nistelrooy may feel aggrieved to have been left of the list. Perhaps, with the likes of Keane and Stam the Scot is refusing to let bygones be bygones and still holds a grudge.

    His statement also raises an interesting debate as to what is world class. How do we define it? Can it be defined? Ferguson also claimed there are only two world class players at the moment, Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Perhaps he is confusing world class with ‘greatest of all time’. Or perhaps he is right and world class means the players would fall in to the ‘GOAT’ category.

    Let’s assume that world class means among the best in the world during your career and not of all time and look at some of the players who Ferguson didn’t name but perhaps should have.


    Probably the most glaring omission from the list. ‘The Great Dane’ was often said to be worth 12 points a season to United as they dominated all challengers in the 90’s. An excellent shot stopper who commanded his area and back line excellently and even helped set up the equaliser in the Champions League final in ’99.

    If a striker can win a game with a goal or two Schmeichel would often win games with a world class save of his own.

    Playing nearly 400 games for United he won five league titles, three FA Cups and the Champions League and was integral in all of it and was so difficult for Ferguson to replace. In fact he did not manage properly until he signed Edwin Van Der Sar.

    VERDICT: World Class


    He had been playing, albeit playing well, for Fulham after leaving Juventus due to playing second fiddle to Gianlugi Buffon. He was a good goalkeeper and worthy of better things that the Cottagers’ could offer.

    Ferguson signed the Dutchman in 2005, a bargain at £2m even though he was 35 at the time. Certainly not one for the future he was the first real replacement for Schmeichel United had procured after Mark Bosnich, Massimo Taibi and their ilk.

    He won four Premier League titles, one less than Schmeichel, in less time, and Champions League, and added a reassurance to the United defence that had been long absent. During his spell at the club he broke the record for appearances for his country.

    While perhaps not as big an influence as the Dane, he was just as important.

    Verdict: World Class


    Ferguson does not often admit to his mistakes, such is his stubbornness, but letting Stam go after a fall out between the two is one that he owns up to.

    “At the time he had just come back from an achilles injury and we thought he had just lost a little bit. We got the offer from Lazio, £16.5m for a centre-back who was 29. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. But in playing terms it was a mistake.”

    In just three seasons at the club he was a mountain in the heart of defence and comfortable on the ball as well. Part of the treble winning side of 1998/99. His career post United was a bit of a let-down and included a brief drugs ban.

    But in his time at United he was impervious and any club would have had him at centre back.

    Verdict: World Class


    Comparisons with Bobby Moore followed Ferdinand throughout his career. It is easy to see why, both West Ham academy graduates and tough defenders who were composed on the ball.

    Ferguson splashed out a record at the time £30m to bring him in from Leeds United and Rio went on to captain the club and become part of one of the best defensive partnerships the Premier League has seen with Nemanja Vidic.

    The fact is he was one of United’s best players, every season, from the day he signed until the day his legs went a couple of years ago and he moved to QPR.

    United have still to replace him properly. He was influential on and off the pitch, a cultured defender who could tackle as well. As good as defender as Ferguson has managed.

    Verdict: World Class


    World class player, without a doubt, his falling out with Fergie is probably the reason he doesn’t make the list.

    Keano was an all-round midfielder, something missing from today’s game. He could do everything. Most people remember him for being a tough tackling defensive midfielder, mostly from his battles with Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieria and his crunching of Alf Inge Haaland. But he was a great passer of the ball and a great box to box player.

    Verdict: World Class


    Perhaps he was missed off the list because Robson’s best and Ferguson’s dominance of English football didn’t really marry up. When United won the inaugural Premier League Robson was on his way out with injuries taking their toll.

    It is hard for me to judge Robson, I never really saw him play, but while captain of United and England and hugely influential and talented he was, at his peak, not playing for one of the best clubs.

    At the 1986 World Cup squad Glen Hoddle, Gary Linekar, Peter Beardsley, Chris Waddle and maybe even a young John Barnes were all better players, or would go on to be better players.

    Verdict: Not World Class


    D-Beck agreed with Ferguson, so it should be case closed.

    It is far from it though, it appears that Beckham is as modest as he is good looking.

    Many say all he could do was cross and take free kicks but there was so much more to his game than that. And even there was not, he did those to such a high standard and with such professionalism.

    In his career Beckham assisted 147 league goals, scored over 100 goals in 600 odd games from a right midfield position. That is the ‘old right midfield’ and not where you may see Ronaldo or Neymar playing on the right wing nowadays. Twice he came runner up as FIFA World Player of the Year.

    His quality and dedication to honing his craft are second to none and deserves to be up there with his fellow class of ’92 alumni.

    Verdict: World Class


    England’s all-time top scorer, joint second with Dennis Law, just Bobby Charlton in United’s top scorer charts but you can’t help but feel that Rooney is not, nor has he ever really been, among the best in the world.

    Certainly he has shown glimpses and patches of world class form, 34 goals in 2009/10 and 2011/12 exemplifies that. But so many poor performances, acts of petulance, football related but both on and off pitch, and goal droughts make you think he is just short of the very top.

    When you compare him to Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the best strikers of his era. He does not come up trumps.

    Verdict: Not World Class


    Sometimes you will hear people criticise a centre forward and say ‘all he does is score goals’. A stupid argument, especially when they score as many as RVN.

    In just 219 games for United he scored 150 goals, and in 150 Premier League games he netted 96 times, apparently never from outside the penalty area.

    His latter two seasons at Real Madrid were hampered by injury but he still managed an amazing 46 in 68 in La Liga and 64 in 96 overall.

    No doubt about it, Ruud was a world class goal scorer.

    Verdict: World Class

    And the one of Fergie’s that wasn’t.


    There is no doubting the influence of the enigmatic Frenchman on the Manchester United, their early Premier League success and the Premier League as a whole. His personality helped mould the team, the young players coming through and the way United played.

    But World Class? Not a chance. His goal average for a striker during his time in England was around a goal every 3.2 games and the most he scored in one league season was 18. Not great for a centre forward.

    Was he better than Gabriel Batistuta, won the Serie A golden boot in 1995, or Alan Shearer who won it three times during Cantona’s Premier League years, or Bebeto, Romario and Ivan Zamarano who all won it once a piece in Spain during the early 90’s?

    He was incredibly influential, a character, a maverick, and a very very good player, just not one of the very best.

    Verdict: Not World Class.

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