Eric Cantona, Roy Keane and Gary Neville were among those to captain Manchester United while Sir Alex Ferguson was manager, but one skipper stands out from the rest
Sir Alex Ferguson passed over Eric Cantona and Roy Keane as he named Bryan Robson “easily the best captain” he managed at Manchester United.
The iconic Scotsman was appointed United boss in November 1986 and inherited a squad skippered by Robson, who had been given the armband by Ron Atkinson four years earlier.
The England midfielder would lead the Red Devils on the pitch for a further eight years, adding to his trophy cabinet with back-to-back Premier League titles in 1992 and 1993.
After he left Old Trafford the following year, the likes of Steve Bruce, Cantona, Keane and Gary Neville would captain United to many more honours during Ferguson’s tenure.
But the 79-year-old has no doubt Robson was the greatest captain he worked with at United, recalling how the “players loved him”.
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“He was easily the best captain I had. I think over the period he was at United, he was the best player,” Ferguson said of Robson during an event to promote a new film about the latter.
“The players loved him. They responded to him and he was the longest-serving captain in my time anyway. It’s difficult for a captain because sometimes he has to tell the truth to players, you know?
“The encouragement he’s got to give them sometimes can be quite volatile and he was like that, but the players did love him.
“They appreciated the time he took on them and another thing, he’s the only captain I knew who could make a decision on the pitch. He didn’t need to look over to me.
“He would do that and that’s unusual. In fact it’s very unusual because he had the balls to do that.”
Ferguson was speaking last Thursday night at the premiere of ‘Robbo: The Bryan Robson Story’, a film which charts his meteoric rise from West Bromwich Albion’s academy to captaining the Three Lions a remarkable 65 times.
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Only Billy Wright and Bobby Moore skippered England on more occasions, while Robson – known as ‘Captain Marvel’ – won a total of 90 caps for his country, scoring 26 goals.
He made 461 appearances for United during his 13 years with the club, netting 99 times, and later returned in 2008 in an ambassadorial role after spells managing Middlesbrough, Bradford City, West Brom and Sheffield United.
After two years as Thailand boss between 2009 and 2011, Robson was appointed a global ambassador for the Red Devils.