Rattling off the names is easy enough. It's when you start to think about those you have omitted that the problems arise.
Here, we have a go at it, knowing unanimity is impossible.
GOALKEEPER: Peter Schmeichel
Boils down to a choice between Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar, with hardly anything between them. Schmeichel (five titles, one European Cup) gets the nod, but only because he came before Van der Sar (four titles, one European Cup) and broke the mould.
RIGHT-BACK: Gary Neville
Paul Parker was an essential component of Ferguson's first title-winning team but Neville is the stand-out candidate. Loyal, brave – a bit of a pain sometimes. But committed and pretty good too. First-team career lasted 19 years and 602 appearances.
CENTRE-HALF: Jaap Stam
Ferguson has admitted to making one of his few mistakes in allowing Stam to leave in 2001. Only at United for three seasons but won the title in every one, in addition to the Champions League. Strong in the tackle and an excellent reader of the game. Few come close – but some do. Rio Ferdinand for a start.
CENTRE-HALF: Nemanja Vidic
The Serbian holds the rare distinction of being confirmed a United player on Christmas Day. Struggled at first but has gone on to become one of the world's best defenders. And he has ended that nightmare run against Fernando Torres as well. Has the strength to match any opponent and is proving an outstanding captain.
LEFT-BACK: Patrice Evra
Few could quibble if this spot went to Denis Irwin, or even Phil Neville. Evra is slightly better though, especially in an attacking sense.
RIGHT-WING: Cristiano Ronaldo
Now the arguments begin. David Beckham is an obvious choice here and his efforts deserve due mention. But someone who was crowned the world's best player during his time at United – and is still rated in the top two – has to have a place. Ronaldo's trickery was not to everyone's taste. Forty-two goals in a single season certainly was.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Roy Keane
The Irish colossus patrolled the United midfield as though it was his own personal fiefdom. His duels with Patrick Vieira were the stuff of legend and performance in the 1999 Champions League semi-final against Juventus in Turin, when he was already booked and out of the final, will stand comparison with any.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Paul Scholes
Sometimes decisions are so tough, it is best to let others make them. Bryan Robson, Paul Ince, Michael Carrick even. But when great players such as Xavi and Edgar Davids are asked to name the man who made United tick, Scholes is the name they always come up with. That will do for us.
LEFT-WING: Ryan Giggs
Ferguson likened Giggs to "a piece of paper blowing in the wind" when he first saw him as a schoolboy. Nearly 900 appearances later, the Welshman is still going strong. Barring the first FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup triumph in 1991, Giggs has played a part in all Ferguson's successes.
CENTRE-FORWARD: Wayne Rooney
Arrived a teenage sensation, then condemned to live in Ronaldo's shadow, Rooney is now starting to blossom. Carried United into their post-Ronaldo season, scoring 32 goals before injury intervened and personal problems came to light. Now back to his best and ready to assume the mantle of greatness for which he was destined.
CENTRE-FORWARD: Eric Cantona
More than any single player, Cantona transformed United from nearly men to champions. Arrived with the swagger of a man destined to usurp Denis Law as the new king. Fifteen years after his departure, he is still adored, that infamous night at Crystal Palace merely enhancing his legend.Post published in: Football