Ferguson insists only trophies can prove a team's 'greatness'

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson's declaration in Sunday afternoon's programme notes, that the current squad is his strongest ever, raised an intriguing question. Which of those squads he has assembled over the past 21 years might have run the current crop closest?

The answer, Sir Alex has now suggested, are those which won him his first double, in 1994, and – of course – took the treble at the Nou Camp five years later. "In terms of a team the '94 team's fantastic; the '99 team's fantastic," said Sir Alex, remembering the sides which boasted Keane, Ince, Cantona and Beckham, Scoles and Butt respectively.

But the United manager, who collected the inaugural North West Football Awards manager of the year award on Monday night, served another reminder that there is a big difference between strength and "greatness" – because only trophies can deliver the latter.

"The way the great teams won [meant they were] put on a pedestal – because of their greatness," he said. "This team has got to do that, every team has, if they're going to be measured as the highest team – not by me of course but by [everyone] outside of Manchester United."

Sir Alex clearly considers the depth of his squad, as much as individual talents like Rooney and Ronaldo, to be key. "The point I make is that in terms of the size of the squad and the quality I think it's the best we've had."

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