Six years on from the legendary manager’s retirement, Manchester United continue to struggle to adjust to life post Sir Alex Ferguson.
Arguably the greatest manager in football history, the dominance of English football by Ferguson’s Manchester United has been replaced by a transitional period, with a series of successors having failed to adequately replace the Scot.
During that time the club have spent lavishly on overhauls in a bid to return to the top, though have rarely looked further than winning a record-extending 21st league title.
We’ve decided to compile an XI of the worst Manchester United players since Ferguson’s retirement, United fans may want to look away now…
Goalkeeper: Víctor Valdés
A three-time Champions League winner, the Spaniard arrived in Manchester to provide experienced back-up and competition for compatriot David De Gea but his United career was one of failure.
The veteran would make just two Premier League appearances, before falling out with manager Louis van Gaal for refusing to play in a reserve team match.
He subsequently left, joining Standard Liège on loan and later Middlesbrough, his time at Old Trafford utterly forgettable.
Right-back: Matteo Darmian
The Italy international would spend four seasons at United, though his impact would diminish further each season as he was eventually frozen out of the first-team picture.
Rarely looking like a full-back of the highest level, Darmian offered little defensively and less going forwards, featuring just 14 times in the Premier League over his final two seasons before returning to Italy with Parma in 2019.
Centre-back: Phil Jones
A Ferguson signing in 2011, Jones was tipped to become Manchester United’s greatest ever player by the great Scot, a prediction that looks wildly inaccurate in hindsight.
Jones was a promising young talent on arrival at the club and whilst he has impressed on occasion, he has never looked like being the player Ferguson had envisaged.
Such is his current status at the club that he is often much-derided by even his own support, the social media age of United fan having bombarded rival clubs with pleas to take him off their hands.
Centre-back: Chris Smalling
The Yin to Jones’ Yang, Smalling was another Ferguson signing who stagnated following the manager’s 2013 departure.
A defender who would do the basics, the modern ball-playing often required of elite centre-backs saw Smalling struggle and he would be fiercely criticised by his own support on a regular basis.
The Jones-Smalling partnership became, rightly or wrongly, symbolic of United’s decline and he was allowed to leave the club on loan to Roma this summer.
Left-back: Marcos Rojo
Remarkably still a Manchester United player after five seasons, it seems a series of mistimed tackles and poor positional play has not been enough for the club to deem the Argentine surplus to requirements.
His combativeness and versatility may win him fans, but United need more than that if they are to return to their former glories.
Midfield: Morgan Schneiderlin
A player many felt could bring energy and dynamism in the holding midfield role, Schneiderlin had impressed at Southampton but was soon found wanting having made the step-up.
The Frenchman struggled to make a significant impact in one-and-a-half years at Old Trafford, failing to establish himself as a regular after his £25m move before being sold to Everton in January 2017.
Brazil international Fred is gradually being reintroduced to Solskjaer’s United side after a period in the deep freezer. The former Shakhtar Donetsk player cost a huge £52m when joining the club in 2018, but has so far struggled to adapt to English football.
United were said to have pipped rivals Manchester City to his signing last summer, though the midfielder has shown few signs that he is good enough for an elite Premier League side and his future at the club looks uncertain.
Midfield: Angel Di Maria
Perhaps one of the biggest flops of recent times, United smashed the British transfer-record to sign the Argentina international from Real Madrid in 2014.
Di Maria had just helped the Spanish giants to Champions League success and many predicted he would take the Premier League by storm, but after a bright start he faded quickly.
A burglary at his home was believed to have left his family unsettled, and his on-field performances soon drastically dipped. After just one season he requested to leave the club, joining French champions Paris Saint-Germain after a single disappointing season in English football.
Right-wing: Alexis Sanchez
Another huge, high-profile flop, United again beat off competition from Manchester City to secure the services of Chile forward Sanchez, signing the Arsenal star in a swap-deal for the under-performing Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Sanchez had starred during a three-and-a-half year spell at the Emirates, scoring 60 goals in 122 Premier League appearances to establish himself amongst the division’s shining lights.
United handed the forward a record-breaking £500,000-a-week, though that investment soon became a monumental waste as Sanchez struggled for form.
He would score just three league goals in 18-months at the club, failing to rediscover his best form and looking a shadow of the player who had shone at Arsenal.
After a hugely underwhelming spell he was allowed to leave on loan for Inter Milan, though United are thought to still be paying a significant portion of his Premier League record wages.
What Alexis Sanchez cost Manchester United.
➡️ £11m per goal
➡️ £6.1m per assist
➡️ £2.5m per shot on target
➡️ £1.7m per game started
➡️ £1.2m per game played
➡️ £764,000 per chance created
➡️ £19,800 per minute played
— betclever (@bet_clever) September 2, 2019
Left-wing: Memphis Depay
Signed with a burgeoning reputation from Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, Depay had been a shining light in the Eredivisie finishing as the division’s top scorer as PSV secured the title in 2015.
His form prompted a £25m move to Old Trafford that summer, with many expecting the Netherlands international to develop into one of Europe’s finest attacking talents.
Handed the club’s famed number seven shirt, just two league goals followed in a below-par first campaign, whilst the arrival of Jose Mourinho in 2016 saw him fall out-of-favour.
Depay would play just 20 minutes of Premier League football over Mourinho’s first half-season in charge, before being allowed to leave for Lyon in January 2017.
The Colombian forward was regarded as one of Europe’s finest finishers after scoring 225 goals in just 317 appearances during prolific spells at Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco.
A serious knee injury did not deter United from making a move for the forward in 2014, securing Falcao on an initial loan with an option to buy for £43.5m.
His arrival was eagerly anticipated at Old Trafford, but he made little impact in his sole season, scoring just four league goals. Having thought they had secured the signing of one of world football’s deadliest forwards, United opted not to make the move permanent after an underwhelming spell.