Manchester United fans don’t exactly remember David Moyes’ reign with much fondness.
In truth, the decision to sack him less than a season into his six-year contract has looked increasingly ham-fisted as time has gone on, but word from within the camp hasn’t exactly been positive.
Just this week, Javier Hernandez ripped into the decision to replace Sir Alex Ferguson with the ex-Everton boss and Rio Ferdinand is another player to shine a light on some of Moyes’ questionable tropes as manager.
But if there’s one area in which we can confidently say that Moyes was unlucky, it’s the transfer market and you can’t exactly criticise him for not being ambitious.
It’s well publicised that Marouane Fellaini was the Scot’s only signing in his first summer and we all know that Juan Mata was a good buy, but things could have been so, so much better.
Moyes’ time at Old Trafford
In fact, when you look at the players we know that Moyes was looking to bring to Old Trafford, it really makes you wonder whether he was a few signings away from being a success at the club.
So, playing on that hypothesis, we’ve decided to imagine what United‘s squad in 2013/14 would have looked like if Moyes had actually succeeded in signing the players he was chasing.
It’s a starting XI so remarkable that it’s hard to gauge whether fans will be wondering ‘what if?’ or fist-pumping because Moyes never got the ammunition in the first place. Check out the team below:
GK: David de Gea
There was literally no reason for Moyes to go out shopping for a new goalkeeper and guess what? He didn’t. De Gea went on to win his first of four Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year awards in 2013/14.
LB: Leighton Baines
So, yeh, Baines isn’t exactly fashionable these days, but lest we forget that he’s the Premier League’s record goalscorer at full-back and a regular for England during this era.
It was well publicised that Moyes wanted to bring Baines with him to Old Trafford just as he did with Fellaini, but was ultimately forced to play Patrice Evra in something of a final hoorah season.
Baines himself later revealed: “The whole thing in the summer was letting things unfold. I could have signed a contract at any time in the summer and put it all to bed.” As we all know, though, he never did.
CB: Nemanja Vidic
We could have put Phil Jagielka here, but with the Everton defender having signed a new deal that summer and doubts being cast over the legendary rumour United players were made to watch clips of him, we’re erring on the side of caution.
As much as it makes sense that Moyes would have been interested, you’d imagine he’d be behind Baines and Fellaini on the shopping list. Vidic isn’t a bad player to step in, though, is he?
CB: Phil Jones
‘Where’s Rio Ferdinand?’ we hear you screaming… well, sorry, but Jones was actually the most capped central defender in Moyes’ only season in charge, so our hand has been forced.
Don’t worry, the fancy signings will be returning in a second, but there was little change at right-back with Rafael proving the number one choice for much of Moyes’ 10 months at the helm.
CM: Cesc Fabregas
Moyes explained: “The other one I came really close to getting was Cesc Fabregas, who we thought we would get [from Barcelona] right up until the last minute. The Cesc one was disappointing, it was very close.”
CM: Marouane Fellaini
Ah, the one summer signing that Moyes actually completed. Fellaini went on to experience a dire debut season at Old Trafford, but improved massively under Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho to the surprise of everyone.
CM: Toni Kroos
This might just be the most painful one with Moyes having actually agreed on a move with Kroos himself who – fresh from bagging the Champions League – was just one year away from becoming a World Cup winner.
“Toni Kroos had agreed to come in the summer,” the Scotsman revealed. “I’d agreed it with Toni himself and his agent. It was a done deal, so that was the level I was targeting – but sometimes you don’t get deals done.”
LW: Juan Mata
Forgive us for shuffling Mata out to the left-hand side, but we had to include the Moyes signing that we can all agree was a genuine coup if we’re to call this his team.
ST: Robin van Persie
While, yes, RVP seemed to decline with each year he spent at Old Trafford, his new manager was hardly going to depose him after two Golden Boots and a PFA Player of the Year award in two seasons.
RW: Gareth Bale
This was the big one. We’ll let Moyes do the talking: “When I first went in to United my real target was Gareth Bale.
“I felt all along that Gareth Bale was a Manchester United player and I fought to get him [from Tottenham] right up until the last minute.
“We actually offered him a bigger deal than Real Madrid but Gareth had his mind made up on going to Madrid. He was, though, in my mind, the player I really wanted.”
Bonus player: Cristiano Ronaldo
The thought of CR7 playing under Moyes is, erm, interesting to say the very least and that’s why we’re not including him in the starting XI, but it’s not as impossible as you might actually think.
“Sir Alex [Ferguson] had told me there was always a chance Ronaldo might come back from Real Madrid,” Moyes mused in 2016. Sadly for all the potential banter, Fergie was incorrect.
What could have been…
Look, say what you like about Moyes, but there’s no denying that he would have finished much higher than seventh if he’d been able to secure just one of these extra signings.
We can’t imagine a world in which Kroos, Fabregas and Bale all shared the team-sheet at Old Trafford, though it would have gone a long way towards rescuing the post-Ferguson era.
But in the end, Moyesy was made to look like the biggest fool in Manchester…
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