(Photo credit: Reuters/John Sibley)
The three-year period following on from Sir Alex Ferguson was one to forget for Manchester United fans.
Dull football, psychological scars, failing to sustain good spells of form and spending lots of money on mediocre talent. In many ways, the club became exactly what their fans derided rivals for many years.
Of course, it was not David Moyes nor Louis Van Gaal who were to fully to blame, despite the former being out of his depth and the latter winding towards the end of his time at the top end of coaching.
Chief executive Ed Woodward is and was the man responsible for the lavish transfer fees paid out – a staggering £340 million across the Moyes and Van Gaal eras.
Many of those arrivals have already departed Old Trafford following inglorious stints. Memphis Depay, Radamel Falcao, Victor Valdes, Angel di Maria, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin all exited the Red Devils before becoming familiar with the staff.
Jose Mourinho has not had a 100% record in the transfer market either but none of the arrivals under the Portuguese could be deemed as outright failures while players of the calibre Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez possess have helped push the club back towards the very top of English football.
(Photo credit: REUTERS/Ian Walton)
This summer is set to be another mini clear-out at United with Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind and Marouane Fellaini – even if Mourinho would rather the latter stayed, all set to be shown the door.
Of the 15 signings made between Ferguson’s departure and Mourinho’s arrival – ten will have left, with just Juan Mata, Marcos Rojo, Anthony Martial, Sergio Romero and Ander Herrera remaining.
It is striking that there remains the same number of players signed by Ferguson in the current squad – David de Gea, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia – as under his immediate two successors combined, even when you factor in Michael Carrick’s and subsequently expected coaching role.
This is indicative of the club’s lacklustre recruitment policy and lack of direction prior to Mourinho’s arrival.
(Photo credit: Reuters/Carl Recine)
Whilst the defensive rear-guard has not been significantly altered – although this summer should see investment in the back four - the additions of Pogba, Sanchez, Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku have given Manchester United’s attack a decisive edge which had been previously absent under previous regimes.
The ability to poach Matic and Sanchez directly from top six rivals – and in the Chilean’s case, also pipping Manchester City to the deal – shows United’s pulling power.
Obviously finances play a massive role in this, but would those players have arrived under Moyes? Under van Gaal? For a side struggling to break into the top four?
Mediocrity will not be tolerated
Manchester United are set to finish second in this season’s Premier League with a points tally which in normal seasons would be enough to be at least in the conversation of a title race. They could yet win their third trophy in 15 months.
This is a club who have awoken from their slumber and the expected summer clear out indicates mediocrity will not be tolerated.
Who will stay? Who will go? Let us know by commenting below.