August 25, 2017
Ten years ago, Manchester United started their 2007/08 football campaign. That season would ultimately end up as one of the greatest in the history of the club. With club legends like Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand anchoring the squad, the Red Devils conquered Europe and lifted the prestigious Champions League trophy. Who were the best players of that particular squad though? Various arguments can be had for just about eight different players to claim the title as “The Best Player in The Squad”. However, I’m going to break it down to a top three. The rankings will be based off of a mixture of importance to the squad and statistical achievements for that season. Find the ranking below:
3. Rio Ferdinand
One of the greatest English defenders in the history of the game, Ferdinand anchored Manchester United’s defensive line. While his Serbian partner could have just as well occupied at this 3rd spot, the nod goes to Ferdinand for his offensive contributions. In the English Premier League alone, Ferdinand maintained a staggering 44 passes per game. He was instrumental in connecting the midfield with the defensive line. While he is known is a ball carrying central defender, Ferdinand was no slouch on defence. His tackle success rate was a eye popping 84%. Partnering with Vidic, Rio was able to showcase his speed in chasing down opponents and putting in crunching tackles or last ditch efforts. With he and Vidic maintaining the back line, Manchester United tallied a total of 17 clean sheets in Premier League play. In Europe, the duo erected the same outcome. Ferdinand even captained the team against Roma whilst Ryan Giggs was left on the bench. Ferdinand is one of the, if not the, greatest defender to wear a Manchester United shirt and was a stalwart for a squad that achieved so much.
2. Wayne Rooney
The greatest teenage talent that England has ever witnessed, Rooney was in top notch form during the 2007-08 season. Capable of playing a plethora of positions, Sir Alex Ferguson often times implemented the former (and now current) Evertonian at either the center of a three man forward line, or off to the right. Though, where he started was often times irrelevant as the trio of himself, Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo would find themselves switching positions by the minute. Netting a total of 18 goals, Rooney contributed heavily to the offensive side of the squad. Running at defenders with pace and pure strength, the young England national struck terror in the hearts of opposing defenders. Rooney and his attacking mates formed famous friendships and partnerships. The duo of Rooney and Ronaldo was at it’s best during a counter attack.
Playing hot potato with the ball, the combined talents of both often times ended with hugs and celebrations after embarrassing the defensive opposition. Though, what truly sets Rooney apart from other forward players is his heart and willingness to win. Both of these attributes were on display during this magnificent season. He earned the respect of both Sir Alex Ferguson and his teammates for his commitment to getting the ball back and assisting the defense with ball winning tackles. Rooney scored 18 total goals that season and added another ten assists (in the EPL alone), but it was his intangibles that truly plants him in the number two spot on this list. Always willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the squad, Rooney is the on the field incarnation of Sir Alex Ferguson’s footballing ideology.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
How could he not be the number one? The Portuguese international is currently one of the best in the world, ten years on. In his red number seven Manchester United jersey, Ronaldo did what no player before or after him has done: utterly dominated English Football. Planted on the left wing, Ronaldo possessed the ability to turn defenders on their head. Striking 42 total goals during this season, Ronaldo blasted defenses whilst putting United at the top of the domestic and European tables. Forming a world class partnership with Rooney rocketed Ronaldo to global popularity. Every goal Ronaldo scored that season was destined to be part of a highlight reel. While Rooney performed the gritty work needed to be done, Ronaldo was always an outlet for his fellow forwards and midfield. Using his famous dribbles and step overs, he often times beat opponents into submission through embarrassment and torture. One of the greatest to ever don a United kit, Ronaldo was at the top of his game during this season and it will be nearly impossible for any current or future Red Devil to replicate his form at that time.