The last signing that genuinely improved as a player at United?

noodlehair

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Shaw is definitely better than he was, even on this season's form. Struggling otherwise.


Yeah, Blind was never anything special.

Luke Shaw definitely improved a lot by the time he hit his peak last season (regressed a bit since then though) Think he’s the last signing to improve by any meaningful extent since Chicarito. Which is absolutely damning. The only other players to improve came through the academy. Our scouting is a disgrace really and has been since we signed Ronaldo/Vidic/Evra.
Is it the scouting or the coaching though? There's no reason why players like Bissaka, Lindelof, James, VDB, etc. shouldn't have naturally improved with experience and coaching, but they almost invariably don't and almost invariably carry the same weaknesses from one season to the next. Either that or they get shipped out within a couple of years having never really been used properly.

Its evident in everything we do as well. The team's weaknesses are seemingly never worked on or addressed so its hopeless to expect it to happen at an individual level.

Too early to know if Rnagnick is at least trying to change that but it's been a problem under 3 managers now (not including Moyes because he basically never got to sign anyone and made everyone who was already there worse).
 

Abraxas

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But what is being missed with Fred and a few others is the valuation and the "hype" and his actual level are two different things. It doesn't matter in appraising current ability that now he'd be worth X amount. Valuations are dictated by many variables and current ability is just one. It depends who is in for him, the narrative around the player, the negotiating position, age, wages. That's why we end up paying 47 million, it's a figure that represents many things (plus we may have overpaid)

Just because he had some stonking games in the CL for Shakhtar doesn't mean he was overall a better footballer than he is now. It took him ages to even be a functioning footballer for us. That's not because we "ruined" him, that kind of idea is nonsensical, it's because we bought a lad from an extremely weak league. He has some ridiculously good games now, so that's nothing new. But he's actually a somewhat consistent performer in the PL now which absolutely suggests he's come a long way from the player we bought.

I think there's a few others in this category like Lindelof, Bruno, again players coming from lesser clubs. All our players are probably reducing in value because that's what happens when you stick them on huge wages and you have a narrative around the club that we're doing poorly compared to expectation. There aren't going to be buyers at the same level as when they were at lower tier clubs but it doesn't mean they've all got worse.

AWB stands out as a massive disappointment as I think he's improved very marginally, but it is marginal. We were far too optimistic to think we could rectify some of his flaws. But considering his age, inexperience it goes down as a textbook example of a bad purchase and maybe poor coaching to not at least eradicate his positional mistakes.
 

Yagami

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He wasn't a good CB though. There was just this weird determination to pretend he was but mainly we defended by just having the ball most of the time and refusing to try and do anything with it.

He'd cost us a game and then some people would just blame every player except him, even when it was obviously his fault, including on one occasion when he came out and apologised for it being his fault.
Yeah, Blind was never anything special.

Luke Shaw definitely improved a lot by the time he hit his peak last season (regressed a bit since then though) Think he’s the last signing to improve by any meaningful extent since Chicarito. Which is absolutely damning. The only other players to improve came through the academy. Our scouting is a disgrace really and has been since we signed Ronaldo/Vidic/Evra.

Ask the same question about Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and City and there’s a long list. What the feck have we been up to?!

EDIT: Maybe not Arsenal
Completely disagree. Blind was FANTASTIC. No surprise that - regardless of having heart problems - he's been a mainstay in an Ajax team that has done well in Europe, too. Great games against Munich, Juventus, Dortmund, Madrid, etc.

So, soooo underrated.
 

lex talionis

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We tend to buy the finished article though, don’t we? The number of tough gems we bought after the treble that were there to be polished into brilliant diamonds is a pretty small number.

The last buy that went from good to great was probably De Gea and before that Rooney, but you might discount them because they were already world class you might have to go back to Carrick, who although criminally underrated by the British media and idiot NT managers went from promising to world class under our manager’s tutelage.
 

Ekeke

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Bruno. Proved himself in a much tougher league

Ander
Lindelof has improved
Martial's first season was a big improvement, he'd barely played before that
 

Big Ben Foster

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Is it fair to say Fellaini improved from an absolute donkey to a decent squad player who could be very useful in certain situations? I've never been a fan of his, but LVG and José did get some good use out of him.
 

Nevilles.Wear.Prada

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Is it fair to say Fellaini improved from an absolute donkey to a decent squad player who could be very useful in certain situations? I've never been a fan of his, but LVG and José did get some good use out of him.
The media really hounded the big man. But was a fighter for us and was waay more useful and dependable than lots of out current prima donnas.
 

kthanksbye

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The limited answers that are coming up in my head are a testimony to how badly we scout and coach players.
 

kthanksbye

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The media really hounded the big man. But was a fighter for us and was waay more useful and dependable than lots of out current prima donnas.
That's right, I couldn't stand him not because I disliked him personally, but he was like the symbol of the dropping standards of the club back then, limited player who the fans kept saying was doing a good job, because in fairness to him, he really was, but he was so limited in skill that he should never have been at the club in the first place.
 

Kellyiom

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If we're including SAF late-era, then DDG.

Very definitely better during his time here than when he started.

Post-SAF then I'd say Shaw, especially considering that horrific injury and weight/fitness issues he had. I'm impressed with him, it's a modern-day 'United DNA' thing with him, I think he keeps going to the final whistle.

And maybe Lindelof. I see above that he wasn't considered shaky in Portugal but when he started with us he was and nowhere near as physical.

So I'm going to say Lindelof has improved with us as well.

Pretty bad look I think. I haven't a clue how much all the no progress / regressors cost but it must be staggering to have bought all that and only 10% roughly show improvement.

I know the transfer game has no certainties but that's got to be down to physical conditioning being overlooked and coaching being neglected surely?
 

RoyH1

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I think de Gea, Lindelöf and to a certain extent Herrera all improved.
 

sparx99

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I'm not sure it's objectively measurable. The team has failed to meet expectations but I imagine individual players plucked out of our squad and inserted into a coherent winning team would show they'd developed themselves.

Is Ander Herrera at PSG a better player than he was at Bilbao? Probably. Or if Lindelof returned to Benfica would he stand out as a much better player than when he left? I imagine he would but our turmoil and philosophical lurching does the players no favours.

We aren't setting these lads up for success regardless of their own failings and that of individual coaches.
 

ToToMarshall

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I think Lindelöf is the only one who has improved to a degree where we can take any credit for it and point to it as something tangible.

AWB is still the same impostor he always has been. He still can’t play football, I hate watching him play. Maybe he has improved a bit and I just struggle to be objective.

Dalot has probably improved but most of that development happened away in Milan, and he’s still pretty crap.

Maguire certainly improved, but right now he looks worse than he ever did at Leicester.

Bailly is the same talented but unreliable injury prone mess we signed in 2016. (Swap Bailly for Rojo and 2016 for 2014).

We bought Shaw at 17 or 18? He was always going to improve but he hasn’t nearly hit the heights we all hoped, and the flashes of excellence have been far too fleeting.

Darmian? Next.

Telles is still crap. No more or less crap, but still crap.

Fred probably is a more well-rounded player but I think that’s just by virtue of playing in a better league with better players - I don’t think he’s taken nearly a big enough step up for us to say we played a significant part in improving him as a footballer. His standing in the game is in hell compared to where it was in 2018 - Pep wanted him back then and we got him for £50m. Who would buy him for what now?

We bought Matic at his peak, he played at that level for a while and then declined.

Blind came as a really clean technically nice footballer who maybe wasn’t up to the physicality of the PL, and he left the same guy - with maybe a better understanding of how to play CB.

Pogba did improve - by 2018 he was nearly the player I always thought he’d be, but for a million reasons here now in 2022 he’s a shadow of the bright exciting super-talent we signed for £89m in 2016.

Herrera? We signed him thinking we were getting a playmaking Spanish wizard, we made him a water carrier whose best game for us was a man-marking job on Hazard. He became a useful player for us and our squad, but did we improve him?

Scheiderlin? Next.

Schweinsteiger? Next.

Mkhitaryan was the brightest talent in Germany and within 18 months he became a makeweight in a transfer for a player with 6 months left on his contract. He was hopeless for us (forget that run of assists he had, he was still terrible then too).

Bruno probably has improved, but again I think that’s just been the natural step-up that happens when you play with better players in a better league. I don’t think we can take a huge amount of credit for him coming in and hitting the ground running, and it’s seriously damning that the longer he’s been here the worse he’s got.

Donny van de Beek? Who knows. How good was he before we signed him? How good is he now? Does he even exist? Can anybody answer these questions? Next.

Think it’s too early to speak about Jadon Sancho, but the early signs haven’t been amazing. We don’t manage young attackers very anymore and I’m worried he might be yet another name to add to the list in 5 years time. Shouldn’t be the case though, he’s incredibly talented.

Amad Diallo, certainly not.

Any improvement made by Pellistri can’t be attributed to us.

Dan James got better at United, whether he made a jump to still be good enough for United is another question but he definitely left a better more well rounded footballer than the one we signed.

Di Maria was amazing, came in for big money, had a terrible season, left, then went back to being amazing. Great.

Memphis is now a much better footballer than the boy we signed but that has absolutely nothing to do with us. I think he was worse when he left than when he arrived.

Martial certainly DID improve, he’s had a couple of great seasons at United. His last season and a half at United however he looks a much worse footballer than the one we signed.

Zlatan remained the same guy we signed until he got that injury. Not much else to say really.

We absolutely did not improve Lukaku.

Alexis Sanchez? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Cavani is the same beautiful but frustratingly injury prone man who doesn’t want to be here we signed.

Think that’s all the big ones we signed post-Fergie worth assessing. Doesn’t make for good reading.
 

BusbyMalone

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If we're including SAF late-era, then DDG.

Very definitely better during his time here than when he started.

Post-SAF then I'd say Shaw, especially considering that horrific injury and weight/fitness issues he had. I'm impressed with him, it's a modern-day 'United DNA' thing with him, I think he keeps going to the final whistle.

And maybe Lindelof. I see above that he wasn't considered shaky in Portugal but when he started with us he was and nowhere near as physical.

So I'm going to say Lindelof has improved with us as well.

Pretty bad look I think. I haven't a clue how much all the no progress / regressors cost but it must be staggering to have bought all that and only 10% roughly show improvement.

I know the transfer game has no certainties but that's got to be down to physical conditioning being overlooked and coaching being neglected surely?
The reason why I created this thread (and the other one) was to basically imply that the problem we're seeing is down to coaching more than actual recruitment. That's not to dismiss how poor our recruitment has been, but surely it can't simply be we're always just buying bad players. I've been saying it for ages on here, but we have been under-coached for years and years. I just fail to accept that all these failures we've had were due to the players just being inherently shit. There is some of that, and no matter who the manager was, I suspect they wouldn't be able to get a tune out of some of them either. But when it comes to our poor transfer dealing, the main thing that's typically focused on is the actual recruitment, as opposed to the coaching of these players, and I'm not sure if that's right.

I suppose the counter to this would be to look at the players who came here and failed, then went on to be successes elsewhere. Because I don't think there's too many of those either. So perhaps that would lend credence to the view that it's more on the players. As usual, it's probably a bit of both. Which is the boring (but often correct) answer.
 

BusbyMalone

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Marouane Fellaini*
Angel di Maria
Ander Herrera
Marco Rojo*
Daley Blind
Radamel Falcao*
Morgan Schneiderlin
Memphis Depay
Matteo Darmian

Bastian Schweinsteiger
Sergio Romero*
Henrick Miktarian
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Romelu Lukaku
Alexis Sanchez

Daniel James

So these are the signings post-Fergie that have left. The ones in bold are the ones I would say have improved/found their form since leaving United.

*these are the players I must confess I have not watched much since they left so have no opinion on.
 

tomaldinho1

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Is Fred rated higher now than when he was at Shaktar?
Definitely not

Issue with someone like Shaw is how would they not improve, think of how young he was when he signed here. In the same way Greenwood is clearly 'better' than when he made his debut but that doesn't take away a feeling he's wasted a couple of seasons where people thought he'll just get better if he plays more. Game time doesn't just equate to improvement, there has to be a bigger plan and, most importantly, meritocracy in the squad to push everyone on.
 

bosnian_red

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Going from most recent to oldest signings (so far), and judging this as improved from start of his contract over time until now.

21/22
  • Ronaldo - no
  • Varane - no
  • Sancho - no
20/21
  • Van de Beek - no
  • Telles - no
  • Cavani - no
  • Amad - still basically a youth player so no
19/20
  • Bruno - top player, but hasn't improved since he came (and this season not good)
  • Ighalo - no
  • Maguire - up until end of 2020 probably yes, but no overall
  • Wan Bissaka - first season yes, no since then
  • Dan James - no
18/19
  • Fred - yes, but no compared to reputation at Shakhtar
  • Dalot - yes, but standard age progression and not as much as expected (and due to loan)
  • Grant - pointless signing
17/18
  • Alexis - no
  • Lukaku - no
  • Matic - no
  • Lindelof - no compared to reputation before signing
16/17
  • Pogba - no
  • Mkhtaryan - no
  • Bailly - no
  • Ibrahimović - no
15/16
  • Martial - no
  • Schneiderlin - no
  • Memphis - no
  • Damian - no
  • Schweinsteiger - no
  • Romero - no
  • Victor Valdes - forgot we had him
14/15
  • Di Maria - no
  • Shaw - yes
  • Herrera - yes
  • Rojo - no
  • Blind - yes
  • Falcao - no
13/14
  • Mata - no
  • Fellaini - no
So you have Blind, Herrera, Shaw, Fred and Dalot pretty much, though even there it's arguable for some. Some guys like Bruno (or just him..) who were top players right from the start and probably just maintained that level but are good signing overall.
 

flameinthesun

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The reason why I created this thread (and the other one) was to basically imply that the problem we're seeing is down to coaching more than actual recruitment. That's not to dismiss how poor our recruitment has been, but surely it can't simply be we're always just buying bad players. I've been saying it for ages on here, but we have been under-coached for years and years. I just fail to accept that all these failures we've had were due to the players just being inherently shit. There is some of that, and no matter who the manager was, I suspect they wouldn't be able to get a tune out of some of them either. But when it comes to our poor transfer dealing, the main thing that's typically focused on is the actual recruitment, as opposed to the coaching of these players, and I'm not sure if that's right.

I suppose the counter to this would be to look at the players who came here and failed, then went on to be successes elsewhere. Because I don't think there's too many of those either. So perhaps that would lend credence to the view that it's more on the players. As usual, it's probably a bit of both. Which is the boring (but often correct) answer.
I'd agree that its probably a bit of both. I just made a post in the Amad thread that we don't seem to be that great in developing our younger players. If we look at the young players bought and those in their early 20s, some have had periods of short success (martial, shaw) but most either stay the same or regress (depay, pogba, mhki, lindelof, bailly, schneiderlin, maguire, awb etc).

But I'd also say, to be fair to them, we've never really had a structured and functioning tactic or way of playing that they could just slot into. Pep, klopp, tuchel to an extent have their structure and buy players to fill specific spots. We've seemed to buy players based on their talent and just stuck them in the team. Take Sancho, we've bought him and stuck him on the wing thinking that'll do, with no thought of the structure he needs around him (players to link up with, overlapping fullback etc).
 

ToToMarshall

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Marouane Fellaini*
Angel di Maria
Ander Herrera
Marco Rojo*
Daley Blind
Radamel Falcao*
Morgan Schneiderlin
Memphis Depay
Matteo Darmian

Bastian Schweinsteiger
Sergio Romero*
Henrick Miktarian
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Romelu Lukaku
Alexis Sanchez

Daniel James

So these are the signings post-Fergie that have left. The ones in bold are the ones I would say have improved/found their form since leaving United.

*these are the players I must confess I have not watched much since they left so have no opinion on.
Falcao scored 21 league goals in 29 when Monaco won the league in 2017, and 7 in 10 on their run to the CL semis - 30 in 43 in all competitions. Then went in to get a further 33 in 59 in the league the 2 seasons after that title win.

He got 19 in 33 across 2 season in the Turkish league, and now at nearly 36 he’s still posting decent numbers (5 in 12 including one against Barca) for 7th placed Rayo Vallecano.

He definitely found his form after his 2 dreadful loans for us and Chelsea.
 

BusbyMalone

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Falcao scored 21 league goals in 29 when Monaco won the league in 2017, and 7 in 10 on their run to the CL semis - 30 in 43 in all competitions. Then went in to get a further 33 in 59 in the league the 2 seasons after that title win.

He got 19 in 33 across 2 season in the Turkish league, and now at nearly 36 he’s still posting decent numbers (5 in 12 including one against Barca) for 7th placed Rayo Vallecano.

He definitely found his form after his 2 dreadful loans for us and Chelsea.
Fair enough.

I know he had great numbers before coming here, but as I said - I'm a bit ignorant to what he's been doing since he left.
 

Red Shorts

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Fair enough.

I know he had great numbers before coming here, but as I said - I'm a bit ignorant to what he's been doing since he left.

No one would blame you for it, as I thought he would fade into obscurity after his PL stint. Shame too as he was one of my favourite strikers in his prime.
 

BusbyMalone

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I'd agree that its probably a bit of both. I just made a post in the Amad thread that we don't seem to be that great in developing our younger players. If we look at the young players bought and those in their early 20s, some have had periods of short success (martial, shaw) but most either stay the same or regress (depay, pogba, mhki, lindelof, bailly, schneiderlin, maguire, awb etc).

But I'd also say, to be fair to them, we've never really had a structured and functioning tactic or way of playing that they could just slot into. Pep, klopp, tuchel to an extent have their structure and buy players to fill specific spots. We've seemed to buy players based on their talent and just stuck them in the team. Take Sancho, we've bought him and stuck him on the wing thinking that'll do, with no thought of the structure he needs around him (players to link up with, overlapping fullback etc).
Yes. The general unstructured nature of our play and lack of system isn't conducive to player improvement.
 

Trex

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Imagine if were actually good at developing players, imagine if we made Pogba a better player from the player we signed in 2016, same with Martial, Maguire, Sancho, and so...we'll have a squad of world beaters, this is possibly our biggest problem, just look at the Liverpool squad Mane, Salah, Van dijk, Robertson reputation all went up after playing under Klopp. Its the opposite for us, its the reason we can't complete, and I think its down to poor coaching
 

Patchbeard

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One thing we can all agree on, this thread makes for depressing reading :(
 

Jibbs

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Definitely not for me. We paid £50m for him, Pep was apparently interested and I think one or two others. There seemed to be a bit of excitement around the signing at least. Contrast that with now, I don't see any "big" club going in for him, and if they do it certainly wouldn't be for £50m.
Exactly, Under Pep he'd be an elite midfielder right now. Put Gundogan and Rodri in our team and see how they fizzle out.
 

Jibbs

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We could not utilize players like Mata and DiMaria, says a lot about us, they both were instrumental in their teams champions League victories a year before we signed them, and turned absolutely average the moment we signed them. DiMaria salvaged his career by getting away, good on him. Mata could have easily had a career like Silva had he gotten away on time.
 

antsmithmk

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I don't think it's really possible to answer the question. If pushed for a top 3 in my lifetime I think they would all be 'keepers. VDS, DDG and Schmeichel.

Rooney and Ronaldo prob make the top 5. After that it's a sorry tale of mediocrity.
 

Sea-Cow

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This is a big thing. Not enough players actually improve. Greenwood is maybe the best one lately but he is not a signing and I am struggling to name one. It feels like there are slim pickings now compared to the Fergie days.
And I would argue that he most certainly has not improved his decision making, especially the decision on when to pass and when to have a go trying to repeat his Leicester hit.
 

Sea-Cow

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We could not utilize players like Mata and DiMaria, says a lot about us, they both were instrumental in their teams champions League victories a year before we signed them, and turned absolutely average the moment we signed them. , DiMaria salvaged his career by getting away, good on him. Mata could have easily had a career like Silva had he gotten away on time.
Haha you must be a much better person than I am.
 

Eckers99

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The post Fergie signings you mean?

Juan Mata
Marouane Fellaini
Angel di Maria
Luke Shaw
Ander Herrera
Marco Rojo
Daley Blind
Radamel Falcao
Anthony Martial
Morgan Schneiderlin
Memphis Depay
Matteo Darmian
Bastian Schweinsteiger
Sergio Romero
Paul Pogba
Henrick Miktarian
Eric Bailly
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Romelu Lukaku
Nemanja Matić
Victor Lindelof
Alexis Sanchez
Fred
Diogo Dalot
Harry Maguire
Bruno Fernandes
Aaron Wan Bissaka
Daniel James
Donny van de Beek
Amad Diallo
Alex Telles
Edison Cavani
Jadon Sancho
Raphael Varane
Cristiano Ronaldo
Jesus, it's a pretty damning situation when you look at that list and can hardly find anyone. Appalling.
 

BusbyMalone

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Jesus, it's a pretty damning situation when you look at that list and can hardly find anyone. Appalling.
Yep. And all for a cool £1.2 billion (or thereabouts). We've been shockingly mismanaged both on the field and off it. Not to say that all of those players have been utter disasters, but not sure anyone would argue that was money well spent.
 

Patchbeard

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Going back further to SAF's reign there weren't many that we really improved in his last few years. De Gea and Smalling certainly improved considerably but would've probably improved anywhere, and I'm not convinced we got hte full potential out of Chicharito/Nani/Rafael. Before that things were better with a lot of more established players still improving under us - Carrick, Vidic, Evra, Heinze, Saha, even VDS despite his age, with a few howlers like Kleberson and Djemba Djemba.
 

Eckers99

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Yep. And all for a cool £1.2 billion (or thereabouts). We've been shockingly mismanaged both on the field and off it. Not to say that all of those players have been utter disasters, but not sure anyone would argue that was money well spent.
If you throw in the academy players who've not really progressed - or only showed brief signs before flatlining - it's even worse.

It's one of those - you know it's been shocking but seeing it written down somehow brings it back into focus.

Someone will write an all-time great book about this period in United's history. There's so much to cover.
 

V.O.

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Juan Mata
Marouane Fellaini
Angel di Maria
Luke Shaw
Ander Herrera
Marco Rojo
Daley Blind
Radamel Falcao
Anthony Martial
Morgan Schneiderlin
Memphis Depay
Matteo Darmian
Bastian Schweinsteiger
Sergio Romero
Paul Pogba
Henrick Miktarian
Eric Bailly
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Romelu Lukaku
Nemanja Matić
Victor Lindelof
Alexis Sanchez
Fred
Diogo Dalot
Harry Maguire
Bruno Fernandes
Aaron Wan Bissaka
Daniel James
Donny van de Beek
Amad Diallo
Alex Telles
Edison Cavani
Jadon Sancho
Raphael Varane
Cristiano Ronaldo
Reads like a fecking obituary, doesn't it? :(