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Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes embracing.

Five United partnerships that went down in history

United have been blessed with some of the greatest individuals in the history of football, but the club's most successful eras have come when multiple talents combine to make something truly magical. We delve into five key partnerships that have helped the Reds soar...

The modern Manchester United began in earnest in 1946, when club manager Matt Busby enlisted former Welsh international Jimmy Murphy as his assistant. Old Trafford was little more than a post-war bomb site, and United were without a major trophy in 35 years. But between them, the pair revolutionised not just Manchester United, but English football as a whole. Their commitment to developing and promoting young talent, to providing dazzlingly entertaining football, to broadening the club’s scope to include pioneering European adventure, created the global institution that United is today. 
The most dramatic example of their devotion to this shared vision came after the tragedy in Munich.
“Keep the flag flying, Jimmy,”
instructed Busby, as he fought for his life in the Rechts der Isar hospital. Murphy did, and within ten years, the pair had conquered Europe.
Sir Matt Busby says

"Jimmy Murphy was the first and most important signing I ever made."

The youth system that Busby and Murphy fostered was so discerning that it enabled United to identify arguably the two greatest British footballers of all: Bobby Charlton and George Best. Alongside Denis Law – captured from Torino in 1962 – they formed what has become known in United folklore as ‘the Holy Trinity’. Each player claimed the prestigious Ballon d’Or award during United’s golden ‘60s and, between them, they account for 665 goals – seven per cent of United’s entire historical tally to date. They might not always have displayed the kind of symbiotic on-field telepathy that was the hallmark of other great partnerships, but these three very different geniuses forever enshrined Manchester United as the home of talent, spectacle and glamour.

George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton all played together at United for 10 seasons, between 1963/64 and 1972/73, and collectively scored 516 goals.

If you were seeking a more contemporary equivalent to ‘the Holy Trinity’, you needn’t look further than Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. The former was often directly compared to Best during his early years, and when Charlton was asked which player he most enjoyed watching, he admitted:
“In so many ways, Scholes is my favourite.”
The pair’s career as team-mates spanned virtually the entirety of United’s greatest period, under Alex Ferguson, where they collected a combined 24 Premier League medals. Though the duo rarely partnered each other in central midfield, they frequently combined at crucial moments; most memorably, for a vital Scholes goal at Spurs away that put United on the brink of the 2002/03 title, and during the FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park in 2004, where a lashed Scholes shot eliminated Arsenal’s so-called ‘invincibles’. Through it all, they were the relentless Mancunian heartbeat of one of football’s great dynasties. 

Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes played 1681 United matches, winning an awe-inspiring 59 trophies between them.

Not all romances last forever. Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole only shared three and a half years at United, but their beautiful, instinctive relationship at the forefront of United’s attack remains etched in the memory of all who saw it in action. 
“We never worked on the partnership in training,”
revealed Yorke,
“but when we got that opportunity to play, we had a bond.
“ And the two weren’t just slamming home goals against cannon fodder: any Red who lived through their era only has to shut their eyes to recall the twosome running riot in the Nou Camp or the Stadio delle Alpi. Sheringham and Solskjaer might have delivered the coup de grace to the Treble year, but 53 goals from the glorious Yorke-Cole axis powered United’s whirlwind season.
Dwight Yorke says

"The Barcelona goal stands out to me, with the combinations, the interchanges, the dummies. The calibre of opposition, at the Nou Camp, made it so rewarding."

United’s history is splattered with the names of remarkable attacking talents like the ones we’ve mentioned, but there are plenty of heroes at the other end of the field. And who could deny their importance? Alex Ferguson once went as far as to say,
“Attack wins you games; defence wins you titles,”
and with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at the heart of his back four between 2006-2009, United came close to matching the success achieved by Ferguson’s great Treble side by securing three consecutive titles and the 2008 Champions League. 
Ferdinand’s perceptive reading of the game and grace on the ball were magnificent enough on their own, but when allied with Vidic’s aggression and manic thirst for victory, United could boast a defensive coalition capable of halting any forward line in world football.
Rio Ferdinand says

“We didn’t work on it in training, we could smell each other’s movement. It was instinct. He was the best partner and favourite partner I played with.”

Happy Valentine's Day to Manchester United fans around the world.

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