Sir Alex Ferguson claims he managed just four world class players in 26 years at Manchester United
Paul Scholes, Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs were the only four world class players of Sir Alex Ferguson's 26 year reign of Manchester United, according to the manager himself.
"If you read the papers or listen to the television commentators, we seem to be awash with 'world-class' footballers," Ferguson explains in his new book 'Leading'.
He continued: "In my book there are only two world-class players playing today: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
"I don't mean to demean or criticise any of the great or very good footballers who played for me during my 26-year career at United, but there were only four who were world class: Cantona, Giggs, Ronaldo and Scholes.
"And of the four Cristiano was like an ornament on the top of a Christmas tree."
His views will likely put the noses of a few former and current Manchester United players out of joint. Among those who it could be argued fall into the 'world class' bracket during Ferguson's time at the Old Trafford helm include Roy Keane, David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Rio Ferdinand, Jaap Stam, Nemanaja Vidic, Wayne Rooney, Edwin van de Sar and Peter Schmeichel.
Ferguson further explained his view point in an interview with the BBC.
"They made the difference and the evidence is there," he said, calling Cantona "the catalyst", adding "when we brought him in we won the league that season - it was his mere presence and his ability to make and score goals."
He went on: "The younger breed like Ryan and Scholes were just fantastic players and the thing about those two was longevity.
"Are there players who have played right through the whole of the Premier League and performed at the level they have? There are none, absolutely none.
"Of course Ronaldo was just a complete genius of a player."