Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio names his all-time best Manchester United XI including Cristiano Ronaldo, George Best and Wayne Rooney but no Eric Cantona

Line of Duty has gripped the nation once again with the highly-anticipated finale this evening expect to be one of the most watched television events of the year.

It was created by Jed Mercurio, the man who also brought us Bodyguard, and he joined Jonny Owen and Friends to talk about the goings on at AC-12.

Jed Mercurio was a guest on Jonny Owen and Friends

We couldn’t just chat about TV though, could we?

Jed is a a big football fan and has followed Manchester United all his life.

So Jonny took the opportunity to ask him all about the great players and teams he has watched over the years and who he rates as the very best.

Here his Jed’s all-time Best Man United XI, which he’s lining up in “an attack-minded 4-3-3 formation”…


There’s is only one place to start in a team and that’s between the sticks.

United have had several superstar shot-stoppers but only one could get the nod.

Peter Schmeichel gets it ahead of the rest “because of his commanding presence and just his consistency,” says Mercurio.

Peter Schmeichel played 398 times for Man United
Getty Images – Getty


When you’re talking about about United, you really spoilt for choice but Jed’s love for the club means he’s got some cult heroes and he doesn’t necessarily jump straight to legendary players like Gary Neville, Steve Bruce, or Nemanja Vidic.

John Gidman isn’t a name that automatically springs to mind when you think of United greats but Mercurio wants him in at right-back.

But what did he love so much about Gidman?

“He was great going forward. Very fast and played other people in really smartly,” he said. “I know there’s an obvious choice there, but I’m not going to give him the satisfaction!”

John Gidman spent five seasons at Old Trafford between 1981 and 1986

What about the the opposite flank? Well, he’s opted for Luke Shaw.

“He’s developed into someone who’s a reliable performer” opined Mercurio.

“When the team plays badly, he tends to play well.”

Shaw has coped well this season despite the signing of Alex Telles last summer

Now it’s just the men in the middle, and Jed doesn’t mind admitting he’s got special reason to help him with his first pick, Rio Ferdinand.

“One of the best of all-time and he’s a lovely guy,” he says.

“To his credit he was a Bodyguard fan! I feel like he’s achieved more than I have, but it was uplifting to hear him say that.

“The obvious partner would be [Nemanja] Vidic, but I’m going to go off piste here and going to go for someone who played for United and developed into one of the world’s best elsewhere. Gerard Pique.”

Ferdinand won six Premier League titles with Man United
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Sometimes, though, only legends will do, even if you haven’t seen them play.

Duncan Edwards’ name will always be etched in United’s history, even if only with the club for a short time before his tragic passing, and that alone sees him make Mercurio’s side.

He told Jonny: “I’m picking him on reputation and also just to tap into some of the legacy of Manchester United.

“An incredible story, so tragically cut short and by all accounts would have been one of the all-time greats.”

In the modern era, the likes of Paul Scholes and Roy Keane may have laid claim to a role alongside Edwards, but Mercurio wasn’t in the mood to be predictable.

“I’m going to put Bryan Robson in there and Bobby Charlton,” he added. “In terms of career performance and international as well, probably our most successful player. Not necessarily the most skilful.”

Duncan Edwards was tragically killed as a result of the Munich Air Disaster aged just 21

Bobby Charlton is considered one of, if not the, best Man United players of all time


Now, this is where it gets interesting for Manchester United. How on earth do you only pick three forwards?

‘Total footballer’ George Best is the first man named. “The thing about Best was he could play everywhere,” Mercurio said.

“He was slightly before my time and there’s so little footage of him, but you do see him cutting in from the left, joining from midfield. I can see him fitting in from there.”

Where does that leave living legend Cristiano Ronaldo? Well, he’s included on the right, where he can ‘come inside and attack’.

That leaves one more spot and it’s taken by Wayne Rooney – the club’s record goalscorer, and Mercurio thinks he’ll fit in nicely in his XI.

“Rooney often sat deeper and didn’t play as an out and out no.9,” he mused. “But he could do it and do it very well.”

George Best was always a fan favourite at Man United and one of the most skilful players of his generation

Ronaldo became the best in the world while at Man United
Getty Images – Getty

Jed Mercurio’s best Manchester United XI

No Cantona?

We get it, you can’t put everyone in your team, but leaving out a man who helped inspire United during the mid-1990s as they emerged as the best in England may seem like an oversight. But not for Jed.

He explained: “I would say that he transformed Man United as a league side, but I’ve got one eye on European honours.

“Roy Keane is not to mince his words, in his autobiography, which was an interesting insight into borderline sociopathy, he talked about Cantona and in European games could barely get a kick and wasn’t regularly picked for France.

“He was a very effective and brilliant player for Man United in the Premier League and transformed us.

“I’m a huge Cantona fan, but if you’re looking at Man United through the ages, there’s a huge embarrassment of riches. You could have two or three benches of world stars.”