Much has been made of Sir Alex Ferguson’s attacking philosophy in comparison to Louis van Gaal’s possession-dominated approach with fans crying out for more goals.
This has been disputed by plenty within the game, so talkSPORT has a look at Ferguson’s final squad in comparison to Van Gaal’s current one.
2012/13: David De Gea, Anders Lindegaard
De Gea improved in 2012/13, his second season at the club, but was heavily criticised by former Red Devils captain Gary Neville. However the Spaniard got better and, despite having conceded more goals, all but one of the top seven, he was voted into the PFA team of the year.
2015/16: David De Gea, Sergio Romero
Fast forward three seasons and De Gea is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League and has been named Manchester United Player of the Year two years in a row. The Spaniard signing a new contract after his move to Real Madrid fell through is the best bit of business the Red Devils have done since the arrival of Robin van Persie.
Verdict: Van Gaal has better goalkeeping options
2012/13: Rafael, Patrice Evra, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic, Fabio, Alexander Buttner
Ferguson had a settled back four of Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans and Evra with Vidic out injured. The full-backs offered a lot going forward, while Ferdinand and Evans formed a strong partnership as both managed to stay injury free.
2015/16: Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Paddy McNair, Matteo Darmian
Only Smalling and Jones remain from that 2012/13 squad, with Smalling one of the best centre backs in the league this season. Somehow Blind has managed to look solid alongside him, with Darmian appearing to be a quality signing. The injury to a much-improved Luke Shaw is the only black mark on the tightest defence in the league so far.
Verdict: The current defence just edges it.
2012/13: Antonio Valencia, Anderson, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick, Nani, Ashley Young, Paul Scholes, Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher, Nick Powell, Shinji Kagawa
Arguably one of the weakest midfields Ferguson had during his tenure, with only Michael Carrick really standing out (another named in the PFA team of the season). His forward passing and understanding with Van Persie became a common occurrence as United stormed to the title.
2015/16: Juan Mata, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira
The signings of Herrera, Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger have finally bolstered the midfield and while United fans have complained of boring football, Van Gaal’s side have the highest average possession of any side in the league. They do however lack goals from anyone other than Mata.
Verdict: Again, the current squad have better options
2012/13: Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck, Robin van Persie
Ferguson’s attack was mostly about Van Persie, with the Dutchman scoring 26 goals and getting 10 assists as he took the Golden Boot and the PFA Player of the Year. Despite falling out with Ferguson, Rooney still managed 12 goals and 11 assists of his own with Hernandez also chipping in with 10 goals of his own.
2015/16: Memphis Depay, Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, James Wilson
This is the weakest area of Van Gaal’s squad by some distance. Rooney has only scored twice in the league while Memphis has failed to live up to his billing so far. Only Martial has impressed across the front line but he is still very raw and will take time to reach his potential.
Verdict: Absolutely no contest. In Fergie’s final season, United possessed an attack that fired them to the title.
Attacking football beats possession football. And won the title.