Everybody knew there was a high chance that Manchester United would struggle in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era - but the extent of their struggles over the past five-and-a-half years has been quite remarkable.
Ferguson left United as champions of England - they’d just won the Premier League title by 11 points - but the decision to appoint David Moyes as the legendary Scot’s successor backfired badly.
United ended up finishing the 2013-14 campaign seventh in the Premier League table - the club’s lowest finish to a league season since 1990.
Louis van Gaal then came in and bored fans to tears with his turgid football. United finished fourth and then fifth in the Premier League table under the ageing Dutchman, who was unceremoniously sacked after winning the FA Cup.
Jose Mourinho was subsequently appointed and won the League Cup and Europa League, but could only inspire the Red Devils to a sixth-placed finish in the Premier League.
The Portuguese coach got them up to second place last year, albeit a massive 19 points behind the runaway champions Manchester City.
After 12 matches of the current campaign, meanwhile, United currently find themselves down in eighth place, 12 points behind league-leaders City. Even a top-four finish is looking unlikely right now.
How United fans must wish Fergie was still in charge of proceedings at Old Trafford.
But could the great man sort out the current mess?
Well, Planet Football have decided to see for themselves by running a simulation on Football Manager 2019, putting Fergie back in the United hot-seat in place of Mourinho.
The outcome was very interesting indeed.
One of the first things Ferguson did after re-taking the reins was to sign Willian from Chelsea in a deal worth an initial £56 million (potentially rising to £73 million).
However, the Scot’s second spell in charge of United got off to an inauspicious start: a 1-0 defeat at home to arch-rivals Liverpool, with James Milner scoring the only goal of the game.
United bounced back though, registering six wins from their next seven games, including a 3-1 victory over Arsenal in front of their home fans.
They also won all three of their opening Champions League group-stage matches (against Lyon, Club Brugge and Lokomotiv Moscow) but were beaten 1-0 by Pep Guardiola’s City in the first Manchester derby of the season.
This result left United with 22 points from their first 10 league games. They were eight points behind Liverpool at this point.
United continue to struggle against the Premier League’s big clubs until travelling to Anfield on December 22.
Paul Pogba scored the only goal of the game against Jurgen Klopp’s side to earn his team a confidence-boosting 1-0 win. This would prove to be the turning point in Fergie’s first season back at United, who went on to win their next eight matches, progressing to the FA Cup fifth round in the process.
United also beat AS Roma 2-1 in the opening leg of their Champions League last-16 tie after winning all six of their group matches.
Oh, and Ferguson also smashed the club’s transfer record on Juventus forward Paulo Dybala, who cost an eye-watering £143 million.
The Argentina international proved decent value for money by the end of the season, however, netting 20 goals and registering eight assists.
United also spent £33 million and £11 million on Celta Vigo’s Slovakian midfielder Stanislav Lobotka and former Newcastle United right-back Kevin Mbabu from Young Boys, respectively.
So, after forking out an eye-watering £187 million in January, did Fergie manage to win any silverware at the end of the 2018-19 season? You bet he did.
United wrapped up their first Premier League title since 2013 by winning 10 of their final 12 fixtures, finishing the season on 92 points.
The silverware kept on coming.
United lifted the FA Cup courtesy of a 2-0 win over Arsenal at Wembley, with the goals coming from Dybala and ex-Gunner Alexis Sanchez.
And to top off a quite remarkable first season back at Old Trafford, Fergie then inspired the Red Devils to glory in the Champions League.
Anthony Martial scored the only goal of the game against Liverpool, sealing a historic treble for United - 20 years after the club's legendary 1999 treble - in the process.
What happened next?
Once the celebrations had ended, though, Ferguson decided it was time to retire for good at the ripe old age of 77.
Legend.News Now - Sport News