Manchester United have betrayed their own traditions - David Moyes
David Moyes has claimed Manchester United have betrayed the club's "traditions" since he was sacked by appointing foreign managers and spending lavishly in the transfer market.
Ahead of his first competitive return to Old Trafford in Sunderland's St Stephen's Day fixture, Moyes also revealed that he had agreed a deal to sign Germany international Toni Kroos when he was United manager and offered a fascinating insight into just how close the club came to buying Gareth Bale, Cesc Fabregas - and re-signing Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid.
Although all of those players would have represented expensive marquee signings - and Moyes would not have signed them all - he argued that United have significantly shifted their approach since he left in April 2014 with a series of headline-grabbing transfers to try to turn around their fortunes.
"I wasn't going out to bring in seven, eight players, because we had a squad who had just won the league," Moyes said. "I wanted to give those players a chance to show what they could do and gradually make changes as I went along, not make wholesale changes."
Moyes, appointed Sunderland manager last summer, said the problems faced by Louis van Gaal - sacked at the end of last season - and Mourinho, with United sixth and making a slow start under their new manager, served to confirm the difficulties he faced.
"There have been two very successful managers go in there, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, and you can see how tough they are finding the job as well," Moyes said.
Since he was sacked United have accelerated their spending with a series of huge deals from Angel Di Maria, since sold to Paris Saint-Germain, to the world-record £89m signing of Paul Pogba.
"Manchester United were a club with great traditions, traditions where they tended to pick British managers," Moyes said. "That tradition has now gone. They were a football club who enjoy traditions with the way they spent.
"They didn't try to compete with all the other clubs. They did what they thought was the right thing to do and spent the right way. I can say that's gone.
"There have been a few changes at Manchester United but that's the way they have chosen to go.
"Of course, they bought (Eric) Cantona and the best defender in Rio Ferdinand and looked for players, but Man United never went out there to show they had the biggest balls. Man United did what they thought was right for the football club, always. Maybe that has had to change because of the current situation. (But) Sir Alex (Ferguson) went out and bought wisely and correctly in the transfer market and what he thought he needed to do."
Moyes was sacked just seven months into a six-year contract with United in seventh place despite receiving "reassurances" that he would be given time.
"I believed I had longer. I didn't believe I had to do it in nine months, or even 12 months. I was given plenty of reassurances," Moyes maintained. "But I think that whoever took over from Sir Alex would have found it incredibly difficult.
"There were top players coming near the end of their career who had to be moved on, and that's not easy. People would now see it has taken a while for Manchester United to start to get back to where people see them and where the club would like to be."
He added: "The only regrets would be the time-scale. Most people looking back at it, and me myself, would say that, whoever took over from Sir Alex, wouldn't have had an easy ride, whether it was Jose, Carlo Ancelotti, Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola or David Moyes, it would have been a difficult job for whoever took over."
Moyes believes the job would have been made easier, however, had he landed some of his transfer targets and revealed that he had finalised a deal for Kroos to arrive in the summer of 2014 from Bayern Munich.
Unfortunately for Moyes he was sacked before that happened and his successor, Van Gaal, pulled the plug on the transfer and Kroos then joined Real Madrid for £20m.
"Toni Kroos was agreed to come in the summer," Moyes explained. "I had agreed it with Toni himself and his agent."
The Scot also laid out what his transfer plans were when he arrived at United.
"When I first went in my real target was Gareth Bale," Moyes said.
"I felt all along that Gareth Bale was a Manchester United player. I fought right until the last minute. We actually offered (Tottenham) a bigger deal than Real Madrid (a then world record £85m - United offered £100m).
"But Gareth had his mind made up on going to Real Madrid. That was, in my mind, the player I really wanted to bring to Manchester United.
"The other one was Cesc Fabregas, who we thought we would get right up until the last minute (he stayed for one more season at Barcelona before joining Chelsea). Sometimes you don't get deals done.
"Gareth Bale we were probably behind all along, Real Madrid were well in for it. The Cesc one was disappointing.
"It was very close. And Toni Kroos came up in January - it was done.
"And I remember when I first met Sir Alex and he always said there was a chance Ronaldo might come back. So that was the level we were targeting."
In the end, of course, United only signed Marouane Fellaini, for £27.5million, from Moyes' former club Everton although they did also bring in Juan Mata for £37m from Chelsea in the January window as they endured a difficult campaign.
Moyes attended Wayne Rooney's testimonial last August at Old Trafford but this fixture represents the first competitive game in which he has been involved and he does not anticipate a hostile reaction.
"I've always had a really good reception at Old Trafford," Moyes said.
"Even before I went there as manager, I think Manchester United supporters recognised people who were doing well, they are knowledgeable.
"I never felt at any time I had big criticism inside the stadium, I think most people in there were fully aware of the situation." (© Daily Telegraph, London)