FORMER Alex Ferguson sidekick Mike Phelan has questioned David Moyes' ability to deliver a world-class new signing and claims that Manchester United would have signed one of the top players in the game if Alex Ferguson had stayed.
With David Moyes reeling from the disruption caused by Ferguson's explosive autobiography, the last thing he needed was for one of the men he moved out of the club to add a clearly critical contribution for headline writers to grab hold of.
Phelan's assertion is that he and Ferguson were hot on the trail of one of the "best players in the world".
"If Sir Alex and David Gill had still been the bosses, I won't name the player, but there would have been a star signing, one of the absolute best players in the world," said Phelan in an interview in a Scandinavian supporters club magazine.
"It was something the boss talked about, and the owners and David Gill were also quite clear on doing it. There's very few of such players out there. I think it's clear to everybody who I'm talking about," he said.
The hottest name in world football apart from Lionel Messi is Cristiano Ronaldo and there was much speculation about the possibility that he might return last January when doubts emerged about a new contract with Real Madrid.
Phelan doesn't believe that Manchester United's current squad needs the big clean-out which Moyes seems to be considering and that one big name signing would make all the difference.
"We didn't see the need for a big clear-out of the squad, that's why Sir Alex and I had the one big signing in sight. One such star signing gives everybody a lift, we saw that with Robin van Persie," said Phelan.
Meanwhile, Ferguson insists he was right to remain at Manchester United following the Glazer family's controversial takeover in 2005.
Former chief executive David Gill had previously put his name to a statement condemning the Glazers' approach as it would pitch United into vast amounts of debt.
When the buy-out was completed, Ferguson was contacted by an influential fans' group member and told he had to resign.
The Scot refused to comply and, speaking to Channel Four News, Ferguson said it had been the correct course of action.
"The Glazers are supportive. You always appreciate people who support you and they have been very good," said the Scot.