There’s no doubt about it: Sir Alex Ferguson is one of, if not the greatest manager in the history of English football.
The Scot won 38 trophies in 26 years at Old Trafford, including 13 Premier League titles and the Champions League twice.
It should go without saying that Ferguson was one of the saviest minds in the transfer market down the years and even though he spent money, the fact that he could continually create title-winning sides is no mean feat.
Ferguson won the league title in his final season with the club, but many believe the state the squad was left in has hurt the managers that have tried to succeed him.
Below, we take a look at the final 10 transfer deals Ferguson pulled off for the club – totalling just over £115 million – to see if he’s really to blame.
Anders Lindegaard – Aalesund, £3.5m, Jan 2011
The Danish goalkeeper, now 33, was only ever meant to provide cover at Old Trafford. After making 29 appearances in five years, the five-time Danish international joined West Brom on a free transfer. Via a one-year stop with Preston, he now sits on the bench for Burnley.
Phil Jones – Blackburn, £16.5m, June 2011
Now 25, Phil Jones has established himself as a top defender for Manchester United and England. However, injuries have restricted his rise to realising his potential and fans aren’t entirely convinced he is the real deal. He’s made 183 appearances for the club.
Ashley Young – Aston Villa, £17m, June 2011
Young was a flying winger for Aston Villa and Watford, but he struggled to replicate his scintillating displays at Old Trafford. After four years as a regular, Young spent two seasons on the fringes before Jose Mourinho saw his potential as a full-back, breathing new life into his Manchester United career. Has made 182 appearances, but a disappointing return of 16 goals.
David de Gea, Atletico Madrid, £18.9m, June 2011
Well, this has to be one of Sir Alex’s greatest ever signings. While plenty of fans were quick to say De Gea was too frail to thrive in England, the Spaniard has gone on to prove he’s, arguably, the best goalkeeper in the world. Real Madrid remain desperate to prize him away from Old Trafford.
Frederic Veseli – Manchester City, Free Transfer, January 2012
Interestingly, Ferguson saw enough in the Albanian full-back to prize him away from city rivals Manchester City. However, he would only last a year before being released. Spells with Ipswich and Port Vale followed before he moved to Italy and now plays for Empoli in Serie B.
Nick Powell – Crewe Alexandra, £4m, June 2012
There was high hopes for Nick Powell when Ferguson beat a host of top clubs to his signature back in 2012. However, he was never able to breakthrough into the first team and only managed three league appearances. He was released in 2016 and he is now rebuilding his stock with Wigan Atheltic in League One, still only 23-years-old though.
Shinji Kagawa – Borussia Dortmund, £12m, June 2012
The Japanese playmaker was a nice player for United, but he never quite hit the heights many had expected. He did win the Man of the Match award in Ferguson’s last ever game at Old Trafford against Swansea, though. After two up and down years, Kagawa moved back to Dortmund in 2014, where he still plays.
Angelo Henriquez – Univ de Chile, Free Transfer, August 2012
United signed Henriquez as an 18-year-old, but it seems as though he just couldn’t adapt to England. He was loaned to Wigan, Real Zaragoza and Dinamo Zagreb – the latter of which he scored 21 goals in 25 games – and he was permanently sold to Zagreb in 2015 for an undisclosed fee. Now plays for Atlas in Mexico.
Robin van Persie – Arsenal, £24m, August 2012
It’s fair to say this deal worked out. Van Persie was tired of scoring goal with no honours for Arsenal, so Sir Alex – knowing Van Persie could walk for nothing in a year’s time – pounched. RVP won the Golden Boot in his first season with the club and led them to the Premier League title, but after Sir Alex retired, his days were numbered. He now plays for Fenerbache in Turkey, but is surely winding down at 34.
Alexander Buttner – Vitesse Arnhem, £4.5m, August 2012
The Dutch full-back simply didn’t perform for United. Although he made 28 appearances for the club, only 13 of them came in the Premier League and he was nothing more than a backup to Patrice Evra. Ferguson had high hopes for him, he was sold just one year after he retired. He has now returned to Vitesse via spells with Dynamo Moscow and Anderlecht.
Wilfried Zaha – Crystal Palace, £15m, January 2013
Sir Alex’s last ever signing. Unfortunately, he was another player that just couldn’t find his feet at the Theatre of Dreams. He made a total of four appearances in his two years at the club and failed to impress, so it came as no surprise when he was sold back to Crystal Palace in 2014. Now, however, he is one of the most sought-after forwards in the Premier League and another huge move awaits him.
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