Manchester United great Ryan Giggs does not believe the club’s post-Alex Ferguson decline was inevitable, instead claiming their recruitment was not good enough under successor David Moyes.
United have gone three seasons without Premier League silverware since Ferguson guided the club to their 20th title in 2012-13 – his final term at Old Trafford.
Moyes and Louis van Gaal have come and gone in Manchester, and Jose Mourinho is now tasked with getting them back on track as Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea continue to challenge for top honours.
However, former assistant boss Giggs – who left the club after losing out to Mourinho for the manager role – feels it all went wrong after Moyes replaced Ferguson in May 2013.
Giggs felt the transfers, or lack thereof, in that first close-season left United in a bad position, highlighting the move for Marouane Fellaini as a panic-buy.
“If you had asked me back in May 2013, having swept to our 13th Premier League title under Sir Alex with four games to spare, whether I could ever see a day when United would not at least be challenging for the title, I would have said there was no chance,” Giggs wrote in his column for the Telegraph.
“Our strength as a team was too well-established. Financially, the club was huge. The stadium is the biggest club ground in the country.
“All the things that, for example, Liverpool had failed to do in order to ensure their long-lasting success after the 1970s and 1980s, United had done. Yet it is already three years since United’s last title.
“Sir Alex also went three seasons without winning a league title but there was a plan and he came back with three in a row between 2006 and 2009. That is the challenge for Jose Mourinho, to put the club back up on top of the English game but there are no certainties about the future for United as there once were.
“I don’t believe that the decline, post-Sir Alex was inevitable. We won the Premier League by 11 points. There were so many winners in that team, so many great characters. Yes, the likes of myself, Rio, Nemanja Vidic, even Patrice Evra were coming to the end of our careers – although Patrice is still playing. But with the right recruitment we would have been gently phased out and replaced by young, hungry players with United’s winning mentality.
“Instead, the recruitment in that first summer under David Moyes didn’t go to plan. I don’t blame David. He came in without any of the inside knowledge about how the squad worked: when certain players needed resting, who was right for which game, who needed to be moved on and who needed to be encouraged. Those of us who had lived through it could help him a bit, but a manager has to acquire that knowledge over time.
“Signing Marouane Fellaini so close to the deadline that August, the club’s only major deal in a summer when we needed two or three big names, suggested that things were not running smoothly. United had signed players late in the window before – Dimitar Berbatov in 2008 springs to mind – but this time was different. This time it was more of a panic.
“Sir Alex might not necessarily have had a first-choice XI but he knew exactly what side was needed for each game, and would have that planned weeks ahead. David did not have that information. He started with a blank sheet of paper and for most of the first season we were chasing our best XI, or the right team for the game in question.”
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