Agreed, I just see a narrative on here recently often regurgitated even by some United fans that United bought success in the 90's because we broke transfer fees. It's a long running myth.To be fair to the English league as a whole, there probably isn't a single transfer record broken at any time by any club that at least one other club could not have funded
Utd have broken the transfer record more than anyone (6 times) but never to the extent you could say nobody else could have competed. Single transfers aren't the issue to me, it's the overall net spend and the trend of it that matters far more
If Chelsea were to spend £175m on one player, I'm sure if we really wanted to United could stretch to that as well. But as you say overall net spend over a sustained period is a better indicator.
And over the last 20 years there are clubs spending above what even United can seemingly afford and certainly levels above even taking inflation into account what any club could afford to spend back in the 90's.