Sir Alex Ferguson has scored former Republic of Island defender Denis Irwin an eight of ten as one player he can not omit from his all time best IX starting line-up during his 27-year- reign at Manchester United.

He said it is absolutely impossible for him to select a definitive all-time team at Old Trafford and named Denis Irwin as the only certain selection.

Speaking at the latest of his theatre appearances to promote his much-discussed autobiography in his hometown of Glasgow, Ferguson said he would have trouble naming his ultimate strike force, although he suggested Eric Cantona is slightly ahead of the rest.

“People ask you: ‘Who is your best Man United team?’ and it’s absolutely impossible,” Ferguson told sundayworld.com.

“It is absolutely impossible. You look at the strikers I had, going back to [Brian] McClair, [Mark] Hughes, [Andy] Cole, Cantona, [Ruud] van Nistelrooy, [Louis]
Saha, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, [Dwight] Yorke, Teddy Sheringham.

“Then to the present players – Wayne Rooney, [Robin] van Persie, Chicharito [Javier Hernandez].

How do you pick out of that? Cantona and somebody else maybe?” In his autobiography, Ferguson described Cristiano Ronaldo as the “most gifted player” he ever managed, yet he refused to confirm the Portugal star in his midfield selection.

“The midfield was probably a bit easier because you have [Roy] Keane, [Bryan] Robson and [Paul] Scholes – they were fantastic players – and [David] Beckham, Ronaldo and [Ryan] Giggs,” Ferguson said.

In defence, he mentioned full-back Irwin, a £625,000 pound signing from Oldham Athletic in 1990 as the only name he would not hesitate to include in his all time best team.

“Honestly, I would say Denis Irwin would be the one certainty to get in the team. I called him an eight out of 10,” Ferguson said.

“At Highbury in one game, he had a bad pass back in the last minute and [Dennis] Bergkamp came in and scored. After the game the press said: ‘You must be disappointed in that pass back.’ I said:

‘Well, one mistake in 10 years isn’t bad.’ He was an unbelievable player.”

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