SIR Alex Ferguson knew Wayne Rooney was a fading force upon retiring in 2013 – here Express Sport looks at five ways the Scot could have replaced his talisman if he had stayed for one more year.
Ever since he left Manchester United for Real Madrid back in 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a sensational return to Old Trafford.
But had Ferguson stayed on they may have got their wish, with the Scot negotiating with the player to make a shock comeback in the summer of 2013.
In fact, ex-United defender Patrice Evra said that Ferguson was “99 per cent sure” he had convinced Ronaldo to leave Madrid.
Click through the gallery to see what Man United’s starting XI could look like if they hadn’t sold some of their stars since Sir Alex Ferguson left
Ferguson’s admiration of Bale was well-known with the Scot’s interest in him dating back to the Welshman’s days at Southampton.
And despite a slow start, the Wales international came good and teamed up with Ronaldo at Madrid for a then world-record £80million fee in 2013 after netting 26 goals from 44 appearances.
Moyes was rumoured to have gazumped that with an offer of £120m, but Ferguson’s influence could have persuaded the winger to sign on at Old Trafford instead.
United had the chance to sign Robert Lewandowski from Borussia Dortmund in 2012, but ultimately settled for Robin van Persie.
It was a move that paid dividends with the Dutchman firing Ferguson’s side to the Premier League title the following year, scoring 26 goals along the way.
However, United could have gone back in for Lewandowski who was left disappointed after Dortmund lost out on the Champions League to fierce rivals Bayern Munich.
Bayern ultimately poached to sign the Poland international on a free transfer, but would no doubt have been more inclined to negotiate with United than their fierce Bundesliga rivals.
Ferguson never did like paying over the odds for aging players, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic could have been an exception.
The Swede was allowed to join Paris Saint-Germain for AC Milan for just £15m, where he would go on to fire them to four straight league titles and score 156 goals in 80 games.
Ex-United assistant Rene Meulensteen said that Ferguson would have turned down signing the striker “nine times out of ten” after Jose Mourinho finally brought him to Old Trafford this summer.
But the former Sweden international would have been just 31 at the time, and his ruthless finishing would have filled the void left by Rooney’s departure.
But instead of throwing money around Ferguson kept things simple, bringing in Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen and Gabriel Obertan.
Even without their wing wizard United went on to win two more league titles in 2011 and 2013.
Ferguson could have done the same with Rooney, kept faith in Van Persie and still ended up delivering more silverware.