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Ferguson's stars are United's best ever: Schmeichel

Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel believes his former club will take another step towards immortality by beating Liverpool in Saturday's Barclays Premier League showdown.

sports Updated: Mar 13, 2009 09:51 IST

Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel believes his former club will take another step towards immortality by beating Liverpool in Saturday's Barclays Premier League showdown.

Schmeichel is widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the Premier League era after helping United dominate the 1990s.

But the Dane insists even the feats of his generation, which included the treble in 1999 and two double triumphs, and those of Sir Matt Busby's teams in the 1950s and '60s are about to be obliterated by Sir Alex Ferguson's current crop.

United, who can move 10 points clear of Liverpool with a victory at Old Trafford this weekend, won the Barclays Premier League and Champions League last year and are on course to complete a cleansweep of five trophies in one season.

Schmeichel expects Ferguson's team to retain the league, win in Europe again and add the FA Cup to the Club World Cup and League Cup trophies they have already won this season - making them, in his opinion, the greatest team in United's history.

"By a long way it is Ferguson's best squad. I really do believe that potentially this is best team that Manchester United has had," Schmeichel told AFP.

"We did win the three trophies but I think this team can do that. I really think this team would be a tiny bit better than my generation. But still they have to win the trophies to win their place in Manchester United history.

"They have already won two smaller ones this season and they have the quality to win the rest.

"It's difficult to talk about history in respect of comparisions. But I think they would be the best team ever at United."

Schmeichel sees the same steely-eyed determination in Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and company that ran through the '99 treble winners.

And he believes this squad has so much strength in depth that nothing will derail their pursuit of an unprecedented quintuple.

"They have many more players to put in the mix than what we had. The quality and the strength of the squad is so much higher," Schmeichel said.

"Ryan Giggs said this to me four months ago. He said an 11 v 11 match in training now is like playing the first team against another first team.

"When I played it would have been the first team against the reserves.

"I see that team go on the pitch and they respect the team they are playing but they are not afraid. They don't think for a moment about losing."

If United win the Barclays Premier League they will equal Liverpool's record of 18 titles, while another continental victory would draw Ferguson level with former Liverpool boss Bob Paisley as Britain's most successful manager in Europe with three European Cups.

But Schmeichel believes even reaching those milestones won't persuade Ferguson to retire.

"Why does he have to retire? He looks like he is doing exactly what he wants. He doesn't look stressed or under pressure," Schmeichel said.

"Everything about him looks so relaxed. I can't honestly see what would make him quit."

If United do win the title, former Liverpool striker Ian Rush believes manager Rafa Benitez's failure to get the best out of Robbie Keane will be seen as the turning point.

Benitez bought Keane from Tottenham for 20 million pounds in pre-season, but lost patience with the Ireland forward's inconsistent performances and sold him back to White Hart Lane in January.

"I was a bit disappointed to see Keane go. I think if you've got a replacement fair enough, but Benitez didn't have a replacement," Rush told AFP.

"When Fernando Torres gets injured they are looking thin with strikers. If you are going to win the league you need quality.

"Look at Man United. They have Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov and then Carlos Tevez on the bench. Liverpool need that."

First Published: Mar 13, 2009 09:48 IST