Sir Alex Ferguson led Manchester United to arguably their most dominant period in both English and European football.
Under the legendary manager’s 27-year tutelage, United won 13 league titles, two Champions Leagues, five FA Cups, four League Cups, ten Community Shields, a UEFA Super Cup and the prestigious FIFA Club World Cup.
Much has been made of the Red Devils’ struggles post-Ferguson, so we’ve constructed the best XI of all their signings since his retirement in 2013, picking from all 21 players that have moved to Old Trafford since then.
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Astonishingly, around £480 million has been spent by David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, with just one FA Cup and two Community Shields to show for it so far. So, who have been the best acquisitions? – Let’s take a look.
GK – Sergio Romero (Free)
Experienced goalkeeper Sergio Romero signed on a free transfer in July 2015 after his contract at Sampdoria expired and has played 13 times for the current FA Cup holders.
Although he is primarily David de Gea’s understudy, the 29-year-old has kept two clean sheets from three games this term, he’s still Argentina’s number one and he made an outrageous save in the recent 4-0 win over Feyenoord.
RB – Matteo Darmian (£12.7M)
Matteo Darmian initially appeared to be a great signing from Torino, putting together a string of solid, energetic and disciplined performances, but he somewhat lost his way towards the end of last season.
The 26-year-old Italian has started to get some game time under Mourinho of late, but he still looks like someone who could leave over the course of the next two or three transfer windows.
CB – Eric Bailly (£30M)
Eric Bailly was Mourinho’s very first signing as United boss and definitely his most impressive until a nasty-looking knee injury suffered at Stamford Bridge ruled him out of action.
The defender is strong, aggressive, incredibly quick and very confident on the ball. The ex-Villarreal man is almost impossible to get past in one-on-one situations and, aged just 22, Bailly has the potential to become a stalwart at the back for many, many years.
CB – Daley Blind (£13.8M)
Following a successful 2014 World Cup under Van Gaal with the Netherlands, Daley Blind joined from hometown club Ajax in a relatively low-profile deal but has already racked up more than 100 appearances as a Red Devil.
The intelligent Dutchman, who can operate as a centre-back, left-back and most naturally in defensive midfield, has firmly established himself as a vital member of the squad and he played more minutes for Man Utd than anyone else last season.
Despite dropping into central defence, Blind is still one of the side’s most creative and progressively thinking players. He always looks to play the ball forward and has a wand of a left foot to go with his vision, composure, reading of the game and excellent footballing brain.
LB – Luke Shaw (£30M)
One of many stars to leave Southampton over the past few years, Luke Shaw moved to United in June 2014 on the back of being named in the 2013-14 PFA Team of the Year.
The England international made 20 appearances in his first year, but his career was halted in September 2015 when he suffered a horrific leg-break at PSV.
Since recovering, his playing time has been limited by Mourinho, however there is no question that the 21-year-old starlet has both the quality and desire to become the first-choice left-back for both club and country.
CM – Ander Herrera (£29M)
Ander Herrera left his boyhood team Athletic Bilbao in June 2014, and even though he was in and out of the side under Van Gaal, the Spaniard was immediately a huge fans’ favourite.
If you listen to him speak off the pitch, it’s clear that he understands what it means to play for Man United, and on it, the 27-year-old has registered 14 goals and 17 assists from 88 games so far.
Herrera has excelled in a new, deeper role under Mourinho, and the work-rate, responsibility and creativity in his performances this season suggest he is developing into the complete central midfielder.
CM – Paul Pogba (£89.3M)
World-record signing Paul Pogba has flattered to deceive since returning to Man Utd from Juventus, having bagged himself four goals and an assist in 18 games thus far but showing glimpses of his talent.
The Frenchman hasn’t controlled or dictated any of United’s big encounters this season, but with his power, agility, vision and classy technique, surely it won’t be long before the 23-year-old is running the show on a more regular basis.
RM – Angel di Maria (£59.7M)
Angel di Maria swapped the Bernabeu for the Theatre of Dreams for a then-British record fee of £59.7 million, but he is the only player in this XI who is no longer at the club, having departed to Paris Saint-Germain after just one season.
The Argentinian recorded four goals and 11 assists for United, then, deployed as a winger by Laurent Blanc, he was soon back to his best, with 15 goals and 20 assists (more than anyone else in Ligue 1) in a superb, trophy-laden first year in France.
It was a difficult year in England for Di Maria, both on and off the pitch, but the gifted attacking midfielder has been outstanding for PSG and proved beyond any doubt that he is a world-class talent.
No. 10 – Juan Mata (£37.1M) or Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£26.5M)
When you consider Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s tough start to life in Manchester, Juan Mata probably just shades it for the coveted number ten spot – but it really is too close to call.
Mata joined halfway through the 2013-14 campaign from Mourinho’s Chelsea and has been brilliant in terms of output and end product, registering 31 goals and 17 assists in 120 matches.
Meanwhile, Mkhitaryan left Borussia Dortmund after deservedly winning the Bundesliga Player of the Year last season and, after being out of favour, the classy 27-year-old is beginning to show what he is truly capable of.
The Armenia captain is a natural-born playmaker who possesses wonderful dribbling skills, a good turn of pace and the ability to inject speed and dynamism into the team’s attacking play.
After setting up two goals against West Ham, fans will hope his time at the club doesn’t follow the same route as Di Maria’s and that he has finally kick-started his United career.
LM – Anthony Martial (£36M)
Anthony Martial’s transfer from Monaco, which could rise to £58 million, made him the most expensive teenager of all-time and few will have forgotten his incredible solo goal against Liverpool just 21 minutes into his debut.
The French forward was exceptional last term, scoring 17 goals in all competitions and scaring the life out of defenders with his pace, power, trickery, directness and natural ability to beat a man.
This year he has endured personal life issues and struggled to find form, but he was United’s top scorer in his first season, he sparked into life with a brace last night and, at just 20 years of age, Martial will only get better and better.
ST – Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Free)
Mercurial striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived at Old Trafford after a record-breaking 50-goal season with PSG, and the Swede made an absolutely blistering start.
He scored an overhead kick four minutes into his debut in a pre-season clash with Galatasaray in Sweden before netting five times in his first five matches – where is strength and accuracy in front of goal was on full display.
Ibra went through a spell where the goals dried up, however, he remains the focal point of Mourinho’s attack, having played 20 times for Man United, and he is arguably the most technically gifted forward of his generation.
The 35-year-old is currently United’s top scorer on 11 goals (two assists), and that tally should be even more seeing as no one has taken more shots or missed more big chances in this season’s Premier League season than the big centre-forward.
Who missed out?
Along with Mata, Moyes also brought in Marouane Fellaini, Saidy Janko (now on loan at Barnsley from Celtic) and Guillermo Varela, who’s spending this season on loan with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Interestingly, all the other signings to miss out were made by Van Gaal. Youngster Regan Poole has impressed at youth level, but the £6 million loan signing of current Monaco skipper Radamel Falcao was a disaster.
Additionally, the quartet of Marcos Rojo, Morgan Schneiderlin, World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger and 2014-15 Dutch Player of the Year Memphis Depay have all failed to fully convince in a United shirt.
Which players have been Man Utd's best signings since Sir Alex retired? Be sure to share YOUR opinion in the comments box below!
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