18/12/2008 01:57, Report by Gemma Thompson in Yokohama
Old guard are a dying breed
Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed the unwavering loyalty of the three longest standing members of his squad, but believes they are a dying breed.
Between them, Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes have clocked up almost 60 years of service at Old Trafford since joining the Reds as schoolboys.
And, according to their manager, such commitment is unlikely to be seen again.
"Every club hopes to produce players who will last in this way, but in these days with freedom of contract I don’t think you will see it much more," admitted Sir Alex.
"Ryan has been here 21 years, with Paul and Gary on 19 years - that is absolutely exceptional and we have been very lucky. But I believe it is unlikely that we will see their like again."
While Giggs has continued to play an important role in the Reds' quest for silverware this season, Neville and Scholes have endured a somewhat frustrating campaign.
Rafael da Silva's emergence and subsequent impressive displays at right-back have limited Neville's opportunities, while Scholes has only recently returned from a knee injury after spending two months on the sidelines.
Nevertheless, Sir Alex says both still have a big part to play in the coming months.
"Their experience will always be very important," insists the boss. "I believe Gary and Wes Brown are the best English right-backs around. But they have a little problem in that Rafael has taken off.
"The boy has come from Brazil, he doesn’t understand the language, but knows the football and has been a revelation.
"As for Scholesy, it is hard to measure his qualities because everything about him has always been so good.
"He brings order to our