Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

The last four Manchester United managers’ first transfer window and what happened next: Moyes, Mourinho…

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho stands alongside latan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba before the 2017 League Cup final.

Erik ten Hag has now overseen his first transfer window at Manchester United – but how does it compare to his predecessors?

Ten Hag spent most of his budget on Casemiro and Antony, who cost a combined total of £155million. He also looked to fix the defence by signing Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia.

Christian Eriksen joined the club on a free transfer and Martin Dubravka was brought in on loan from Newcastle.

We’ve taken a look back at what the last four United managers did during their first summer transfer window and what happened in their debut seasons at Old Trafford.

Note: we’ve only included the last four permanent United managers as the transfer window didn’t come into place until 2002.

David Moyes

Despite inheriting a squad that had just won the Premier League title under Ferguson, Moyes wanted to make a lot of new signings in the summer of 2013.

The manager reportedly targeted Cesc Fabregas, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Mesut Ozil, Fabio Coentrao, Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini but United were only able to sign the latter.

Fellaini, who had worked under Moyes at Everton, had a really difficult debut season and quickly became a much-maligned figure at Old Trafford.

“You can ask my staff – the last thing I wanted was for Marouane Fellaini to be my first signing,” Moyes told Radio 5 live in 2017. “I knew, coming from my old club, the look was never going to be good.”

But Fellaini wasn’t the only United player that struggled in 2013-14. The Red Devils produced a disastrous defence of their title, losing five of their opening 15 league games.

Moyes then tried to rescue United’s season by spending £37.1million on Juan Mata during the January transfer window. But Mata’s arrival failed to spark an upturn in form and they were knocked out of the League Cup, FA Cup and Champions League.

After losing against Everton in April 2014, Moyes was sacked and Ryan Giggs took over as interim player-manager for the final four games.

United finished the season with 64 points and came seventh, their lowest league placing in the Premier League era.

Louis van Gaal

Having missed out on the top four, United allowed Van Gaal to spend £150million on new signings in the summer of 2014.

Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw were the first players through the door and Van Gaal then signed a Dutch full-back in Daley Blind and an Argentinian centre-back in Marcos Rojo, setting a template that Ten Hag would follow eight years later.

United also broke the British transfer record to sign Angel Di Maria, who had just produced a Man of the Match performance for Real Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final.

Alongside the five permanent signings, they signed Radamel Falcao from Monaco on deadline day on a season-long loan deal.

United still had a difficult start to the season, winning just three of their opening 10 Premier League games and suffering a 4-0 defeat to MK Dons in the League Cup.

Van Gaal’s side found themselves sitting ninth in the league table at that stage but a run of seven wins in eight matches saw them move up to third in December 2014.

While they were knocked out of the FA Cup by Arsenal, the United players appeared to grasp Van Gaal’s philosophy when they produced brilliant performances in wins over Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City.

But United’s form nosedived at the end of the campaign and they lost three consecutive matches for the first time since 2001.

Despite their inconsistent nature and the fact that a lot of their summer signings failed to live up to expectations, United still finished fourth and booked a return to the Champions League.

Jose Mourinho

After the end of the 2015-16 season, the self-appointed ‘Special One’ replaced Van Gaal in the hot seat at Old Trafford and was tasked with restoring United to its former glories.

Mourinho knew that the squad needed strengthening and signed Eric Bailly from Villarreal and Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who had worked with Mourinho at Inter Milan, joined United on a free transfer after leaving Paris Saint-Germain.

United then completed a world record transfer, spending £89million to bring academy graduate Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford after four years at Juventus.

Paul Pogba reacting to a head injury

Mourinho’s United career got off to a perfect start as he delivered the Community Shield in his first official game, beating Leicester City 2-1 at Wembley.

The Red Devils also won their opening three Premier League games in 2016-17 before back-to-back defeats against Manchester City and Watford proved that the manager had a difficult job on his hands.

Mourinho, who was sacked by Chelsea in 2015, took his United side to Stamford Bridge in the ninth league game of the 2016-17 season but they suffered a 4-0 defeat.

After that loss to Chelsea, United tightened up defensively and went on a 25-game unbeaten run in the league, although 12 of them were draws. They also lifted the League Cup after Ibrahimovic scored a late winner against Southampton.

Despite finishing sixth in the Premier League, United managed to secure Champions League qualification as goals from Pogba and Mkhitaryan gave them a 2-0 win over Ajax in the Europa League final.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

While Solskjaer became United’s interim manager in December 2018, he didn’t make any purchases in the January window and had to wait until the summer of 2019.

The Norwegian made a surprise move to buy Daniel James from Swansea City and then tried to bolster their defensive options, signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka for £50million and Harry Maguire for £80million.

United started the 2019-20 season with a 4-0 win over Chelsea but that proved to be a false dawn as they won just three of their next 13 Premier League and found themselves in ninth place at the start of December 2019.

Despite overseeing wins over Tottenham and Manchester City, Solskjaer came under more pressure after United lost three of their first four league games in 2020.

But they signed Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon during the January transfer window and his arrival sparked a dramatic upturn in form at the club.

United won nine and drew five of their final 14 league games and finished third after beating Leicester City on the final day of the season.

“It didn’t seem like you [the media] were expecting this – all the predictions were sixth or seventh,” Solskjaer said after the game. “That’s all right. If I’m getting criticised that makes me stronger and makes me believe more in what I’m doing. Please don’t praise me too much because you can become complacent. That’s just the way I’m made.

“I was reading through them [the predictions] and some of the staff were discussing them. To finish third with this team and this squad, and where we have been with this rebuild, has been a massive achievement by everyone.”

In the cup competitions, Solskjaer managed to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League but lost all three and finished the season without a trophy.

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