Peter Schmeichel (goalkeeper)
Signed from Brondby (DEN), 1991
> Ferguson acquired Schmeichel for just over £500,000, but the giant blond Dane was to become the greatest goalkeeper in the club’s history. Schmeichel was the rock upon which United’s success was built in the 1990s and he captained the side to Champions League glory in 1999.
Eric Cantona (striker)
Signed from Leeds United (ENG), 1992
> The catalyst for United’s period of dominance under Ferguson, Cantona arrived from Leeds in a £1.2 million deal in 1992 and left five years later as an Old Trafford legend. The club had gone 25 years without winning the league prior to the Frenchman’s arrival, but they claimed the inaugural Premier League title in his first season at the club. A league and FA Cup double followed in 1994. The mercurial Frenchman inspired the club to two more league titles, as well as the 1996 FA Cup, before retiring abruptly at the age of 30 in 1997.
Roy Keane (central midfielder)
Signed from Nottingham Forest (ENG), 1993
> The driving force in the heart of the United midfield, Keane embodied Ferguson’s own ferocious will to win and became the manager’s on-pitch lieutenant. He cost a British-record £3.75 million when he signed from Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, but in his 12 years of service he amassed seven Premier League titles and four FA Cups.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (striker)
Signed from Molde (ENG), 1996
> Solskjaer was a complete unknown when he arrived in a £1.5 million deal, but he was to prove one of Ferguson’s shrewdest acquisitions. ‘The Baby-faced Assassin’, as he became known in the British media, had a keen eye for goal and in 1999 claimed the famous injury-time winner against Bayern Munich that brought Ferguson the first of his two Champions League titles.
Cristiano Ronaldo (winger/forward)
Signed from Sporting Lisbon (POR), 2003
> After being tormented by a teenage winger during a pre-season game in 2003, United’s players urged Ferguson to sign him on the flight back after the game. Ferguson did, shelling out £12.24 million to take Ronaldo to Old Trafford, and he went on to become a United great. Initially dismissed as an over-elaborate flair player, Ronaldo was to develop into one of the most complete forward players the game has ever seen. He scored 42 goals as United claimed a league and Champions League double in 2008.
Drop in Man United shares in the first 10 minutes of trading on the New York Stock Exchange after Ferguson announced his retirement yesterday
PA Sport selects the best United XI during Ferguson’s tenure:
Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel
Right-back: Gary Neville
Centre-half: Jaap Stam
Centre-half: Nemanja Vidic
Left-back: Patrice Evra
Right-wing: Cristiano Ronaldo
Central midfield: Roy Keane
Central midfield: Paul Scholes
Left-wing: Ryan Giggs
Centre-forward: Wayne Rooney
Centre-forward: Eric Cantona