Sir Alex Ferguson turned Manchester United into the dominating force in the Premier League during his 26 years at Old Trafford but, according to the man himself, he only managed four world class players there.

During most of Fergie’s time in charge of United it looked unlikely that anyone would ever topple them as the dominant force in the league.

The Scotsman famously said local rivals Manchester City wouldn’t overtake the Red Devils in his lifetime, a comment that was turned against him as United were being battered by Pep Guardiola’s side last weekend.

For his 26 years at the club, United had some of the best players that the Premier League has ever seen, with the likes of Peter Schmeichel, Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, Roy Keane and Wayne Rooney always mentioned whenever an all time XI is discussed.

However, the 80-year-old isn’t convinced that any of those on the list, or many others, ever reached the extremely vague description of ‘world class.’

According to the former Aberdeen manager, he was only in charge of four players who could be described in those terms, despite what most people would think, whilst at United.

In his 2015 book Leading: Learning from Life and My Years at Manchester United, Ferguson wrote: “If you read the papers or listen to the television commentators, we seem to be awash with ‘world-class’ footballers.

“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: [Eric] Cantona, [Ryan] Giggs, [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Paul] Scholes.

“And of the four Cristiano was like an ornament on the top of a Christmas tree.”

Ferguson had a great relationship with Ronaldo. Image: AlamyWhile Ferguson omitted several stars from his ‘world-class bracket,’ the Scotsman suggested the likes of Giggs and Scholes were “fantastic players.”

He added: “But these players elevated themselves above all that.

“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.”

Signing Cantona was the catalyst for United’s huge success under Ferguson. Image: AlamyFerguson probably isn’t enjoying seeing what is going on with Ronaldo, who he first brought to the club in 2003 and was integral to bringing the forward back to United 14 months ago.

Ten Hag will be hoping that at some point he can be the first United boss to win the league since Ferguson won his 13th title over nine years ago.