Sunderland manager and ex Manchester United captain Steve Bruce reckons that the 1993/94 side assembled by Sir Alex Ferguson was his best side ever – more so than the double winning side of 2008 and the treble side of 1999. Bruce signed in 1987 for £800,000 from Norwich and helped United win a number of honours before moving onto Birmingham City in 1996. Bruce will always be remembered for his two late goals against Sheffield Wednesday in 1993 – which gave United a 2-1 lead and one hand on the title.
Bruce scored an impressive 51 goals in 414 games for United and captained the club for its first domestic double of the FA Cup and the League Championship – in 1993/94. Bruce believes that the 1993/94 team was the best team assembled by Fergie over the years:
“The 1993-94 team, for me, was as good as any team I’ve seen,”
“The names trip of the tongue – Cantona, Hughes, Robson, Giggs, Kanchelskis, Ince, Keane, Irwin, Parker, myself, Pallister, Schmeichel.”
“That was some team. Whether they wanted to play football, fight or whatever – the 1994 team would take some beating.”
“I know the 1999 team won the treble but we were unfortunate in that we couldn’t play our best team because of the daft rule that said you could only field three foreign players at one time.”
“And then by 1995 that side was dismantled.”
The key point made by Bruce is the foreigner rule restriction – which of course hampered United in the competition. However, I would add that although the inclusion of the full side would of course have made the first xi stronger – it took some years for United to adapt to the counter attacking style of European football. The 4-0 defeat in the Nou Camp against Barcelona was a real eye opener – but United pushed on from there and learned how to play a more controlled approach.
I disagree with Bruce. I think the 2007/08 team was the best team assembled by Ferguson. My all time favourite player is with out doubt Eric Cantona (like my Reds my age) and his contribution to the team in 93/94 and 95/96 was immense – however I don’t think I ever imagined that I would see a winger hit 42 goals in one season, a center back pairing to rival Franco Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta and a squad with so much quality to fall back on. The team of 1993/94 was immense and clearly the best team domestically and it is a massive shame that side couldn’t compete on a European level but the 2007/08 side edges it for me.