Bruce: 1999? 2008? Nah – 93/94 was the best!

Bruce and Pallister

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.

3 Comments on Bruce: 1999? 2008? Nah – 93/94 was the best!

  1. First of all congratulations to steve bruce on the peformance on saturday.i have never seen man u play that badly since when crespo scored for milan. I understand sir alex defending ben foster on his performances of question is ben foster’s confidence.greater than man u fans feelings? Ronaldo is gone but when things were happening for him.evd and not mr. Foster was in charge of proceedings. Ben foster is a dud. Please give kuzack or amos a chance.

  2. I think Brucey was bound to say that. If you played in a team that had an incredible lost potential you would say the same, I know I would anyway.

    Do I agree? I don’t know.. That 1994 team was probably the last British team to play so flamboyant and so free, before Fergie followed European culture to fit within tactics etc. I think that’s why so many people romanticise with that team, including me.

    It would be interesting to note though – after the Barca thrashing in 1994 Fergie focussed on a more tactical approach. Only on abandoning this in 1998 did it bring unheralded success and he switched back to a tactical based approach when our gung-ho attack was part of the reason we were eliminated as holders against Real in 2000.

    There’s no definitive answer – though I would say in the 94, 99 and 2008 teams Fergie has built the three best sides in English (and British) football history. As fans we should feel honoured to have watched them all and grateful that they were representing our club.

    It’s only fair to say as a footnote that as a club we mourn and lament the forever unknown potential of the 1958 side though most people believe that could have gone on to be the best club side in world football history. Obviously I’m not old enough to give an accurate opinion on that era and with all due respect with such tragedies you do wonder if people are romanticising and over-stating how talented the players were. However it’s clear to see with the 58 team and the strides they were making that they were going to have a major say in the history of European football, but as I said, it’s lost and forever open to debate.

    It is a tragedy and a shame in different proportions that we have this history attached to the club regarding lost potential but at the same time that is what adds to the romance.

    I find it bittersweet that as a supporter I can feel the lost potential of the 94 side but also I should say that we were only a penalty shoot out away from a FA Cup Final and a bad performance away from a European Cup last season – I’m not saying the 08/09 side was the best in the clubs history but considering they came within 180 minutes and a couple of penalty kicks away from being it, it does beg the question are such narrow margins what we decide greatness on?

    If, last season, we had triumped on penalty kicks in the FA Cup semi and gone on to win both finals, would this side really have been labelled the best ever?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.