It hasn’t been a vintage decade for Manchester United.
The first four years – 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 – were reasonably rosy, but everything changed when Sir Alex Ferguson called time on his illustrious managerial career.
The legendary Scot, who is widely regarded as the greatest football manager of all time, unexpectedly announced his retirement shortly before the 2012/13 campaign came to an end.
United, shell-shocked by the timing of Ferguson’s departure, responded by hiring David Moyes – and things began to go downhill rapidly for the Premier League giants, who also lost the influential David Gill (Ed Woodward’s predecessor) at the same time.
The lows have certainly outweighed the highs over the past six years, although there have still been some memorable moments for United fans since 2013, including the FA Cup triumph under Louis van Gaal, and winning both the League Cup and the Europa League when Jose Mourinho was in charge.
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But what would a Man Utd Team of the Decade (2010-2020) look like?
Assembling this XI wasn’t the easiest of tasks – and a couple of the inclusions will certainly split opinion – but this, in our opinion, is the club’s strongest team of the decade.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
A no-brainer this one. Without David de Gea, United’s results would have been significantly worse over the past decade.
The Spaniard has appeared in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year five times and won United’s Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year accolade on four occasions thanks to his excellent displays in between the sticks.
His performance levels have dipped over the past 12-18 months but he still deserves huge respect for what he’s achieved (on an individual level, at least) at Old Trafford.
Right-back: Antonio Valencia
An honourable mention to the much-loved Rafael Da Silva, but Antonio Valencia deserves the right-back spot in this team for his consistency and longevity.
The Ecuadorian transformed himself from an attacking winger to defensive full-back through sheer hard work and even went on to captain the Red Devils.
Valencia was twice named the Manchester United Players’ Player of the Year and also won the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award.
Centre-back: Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand’s best days may have been behind him towards the end up his spell at United, which finished in 2014, but which central defenders have been better than him since he left the club?
The likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans weren’t in the same league as Rio, while Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire haven’t done nearly enough to warrant a place in United’s Team of the Decade over the former England international.
Ferdinand helped United win the Premier League in 2011 and 2013, and was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year at the end of the 2012/13 campaign.
Centre-back: Nemanja Vidic
We couldn’t have Ferdinand without Nemanja Vidic. It wouldn’t be right.
The Serbian also left Old Trafford in the summer of 2014, and was certainly in decline by this point, but he still won the Premier League title in 2011 and 2013.
He also made the FIFA FIFPro World XI in 2011 – the last year United reached the Champions League final – and will always be remembered as one of the greatest defenders in the club’s history.
Left-back: Patrice Evra
One of the best left-backs United have ever had, Patrice Evra was almost ever-present for the Red Devils between 2010 and 2014, the year he left the club for Juventus.
The Frenchman played a key role in United’s 2011 and 2013 Premier League triumphs and made the left-back spot in the PFA’S Premier League Team of the Year in 2010.
Luke Shaw was expected to become Evra’s long-term successor when he signed from Southampton in 2014 but the Englishman has flattered to deceive.
Central midfield: Michael Carrick
“It’s Carrick, you know… it’s hard to believe it’s not Scholes”.
This chant was heard regularly at Old Trafford during the latter years of Michael Carrick’s United tenure, which tells you all you need to know about his performance levels.
Carrick also won Premier League winners’ medals in 2011 and 2013. He also won the FA Cup in 2016, both the Europa League and the EFL Cup in 2017 and was named in the PFA Team of the Year in 2013.
He currently works as a first-team coach alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Central midfield: Paul Pogba
Right, hear us out. Paul Pogba has received an awful lot of stick from fans and the media alike since returning to United from Juventus in 2016 and some of it has been justified.
But a lot of the criticism has been well over the top. It all stems from the fact he was signed for £89 million, which obviously wasn’t his fault. Expectation levels were sky high.
Pogba has underwhelmed on many occasions but it’s important to remember the times he’s bossed games for the Red Devils.
The Frenchman has scored 31 goals and produced the same number of assists in 141 appearances – numbers that the vast majority of central midfielders would be more than happy with.
Central midfield: Juan Mata
Juan Mata provided one of the best afternoons of football for United fans in the post-Ferguson era. Anfield, for many fans, will forever be known as ‘Juanfield’ after the Spaniard’s brace in a 2-1 win away at Liverpool in March 2015.
Mata has scored 43 other goals for the Red Devils since January 2014, when he arrived in the most stylish way, straight off a helicopter that had travelled from London.
The 31-year-old has represented United impeccably – especially off the pitch – and it’s just a bit unfortunate that he’s played for the club during such a difficult period.
Imagine how good he would have been under Fergie…
Playmaker: Wayne Rooney
One of United’s greatest ever players and the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, Wayne Rooney was still a phenomenal player for the Red Devils during the first few years of the 2010s.
He hit double figures in all competitions during all of his seasons at Old Trafford, except for the final one, and played a role in all of the silverware triumphs that United have won since Ferguson’s departure.
What United would do for a player of Rooney’s ability and leadership qualities now.
Striker: Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie won the 2012/13 Premier League for Manchester United almost single-handedly. The Dutchman made a truly remarkable impact after completing his shock move from Arsenal in August 2012.
He scored 30 goals in his first season at Old Trafford, winning a second Premier League Golden Boot award In the process, and went on to score 28 goals over the next two campaigns under Moyes and then Van Gaal.
It’s a shame how Van Persie’s stint ended and he certainly deserved a better send-off from the club, but he will always occupy a special place in the hearts of the Old Trafford faithful.
Striker: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic compared himself to a fine wine because he gets better with age and he wasn’t lying.
The Swede was brilliant during his first season at Old Trafford, scoring 28 goals in 46 games and winning the League Cup and Europa League in the process.
It’s a pity that he suffered a serious injury, which limited his appearances during the 2017/18 campaign, but United perhaps should have done more to keep him.
Zlatan, who turned 38 earlier this month, has netted an incredible 52 goals in 57 games for his current club, LA Galaxy.
And here’s the team in full…