Goal nominates the top three standout performers from a disastrous campaign under David Moyes's short-lived regime at Old Trafford - have your say in the comments section below!The past season was so wholly nightmarish for last season's champions that surely its most welcome moment will have been the whistle that concluded of the campaign's closing fixture. As David Moyes came and went, the mythology of Sir Alex Ferguson's genius was both consolidated forever and tainted irrevocably.
The sheer magnitude of Moyes's failure acted as living, breathing proof of his predecessor's utter genius and yet his very presence at the club was due to Ferguson's desperately flawed decision-making. Chief among the difference between the two managerial regimes was how absolutely inferior the players appeared once the old patriarch had departed. The club's descent from league winners by 11 points to the division's seventh-best side was perhaps the season's defining narrative.
As a result, those amongst the squad who enjoyed impressive seasons were few and far between but here Goal looks at three of United's best performers in a campaign that will hastily be written off as one of transition at Old Trafford as eyes are hastily cast towards next term.
DAVID DE GEA | GOALKEEPER
De Gea's impressive season was perhaps borne both despite and because of this. The manner in which he has excelled while being left so truly, consistently exposed has been admirable, while the constant stream of efforts raining in on his goal has granted him a greater opportunity to impress at a goalkeeper's most base-level and eye-catching skill: stopping shots.
And stopping shots is something that De Gea can most certainly do. The Spaniard boasts the athleticism, reach and lightning reaction time that is conducive to batting away most attempts that come sailing his way. His point-blank denial of a Luis Suarez effort at Old Trafford will not go down in the annals due to its lack of consequence but it was nonetheless one of the most genuinely incredible stops ever seen in the English top flight.
The biggest enhancement to his game this term, though, has not in fact been his shot-repelling but his increased authority and physical courage. The absence of organisational leadership and the reluctance to declare ownership of crosses that fall inside his six-yard box were the chief criticisms aimed at De Gea upon his arrival to United two years ago and this has been the season during which both of those hurdles look to have been comprehensively leapt. He is now one of the few jewels in a rather faded United crown and probably – in the cold monetary terms favoured by the Glazer family – the club's most valuable asset.
WAYNE ROONEY | FORWARD
The ultimate legacy of Rooney's various he-said-she-said transfer sagas (and startlingly generous ensuing contracts) of recent years is that he may not enjoy the sort of sycophantic attention from the Old Trafford crowd that he once did but the England striker nonetheless remains a large part of his side's attacking threat.
His 17 league goals over the course of the season is the league's fifth-best tally despite the chronic underperformance of the team behind him, while only two players in the division clocked up more assists. The Rooney of today disappoints some by having abandoned the happy-go-lucky joy that so distinctly characterised his teenage self but the latter-day Rooney's pure efficiency as a striker is undeniable.
After finding himself demoted to the peripheries following the acquisition and peerless goal-getting brutality of Robin van Persie two summers ago, Rooney has spent this campaign taking full advantage of his strike partner's struggles with form and fitness to return to the fore as his club's chief forward. His output has been one of the few consistently worthy features of United's season.
ADNAN JANUZAJ | MIDFIELDER
His courage in shouldering responsibility has perhaps been his most striking talent; that he has drawn the most fouls per game of anyone at the club and attempted the most dribbles of all its first-team regulars shows his willingness to attempt the difficult – a welcome departure from the safety-first default mode resorted to by the likes of Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young.
There is, quite naturally, much room for improvement for a player whose consistency has waned in the manner oft-experienced by young attackers. But the raw materials that he possesses are clear as day – and they are not just of the game's technical side. His ability to spot an incisive pass and time its execution to perfection is every bit as impressive as his capacity to dispatch an inch-perfect volley into the far corner and hints at an eventual relocation from the flank to the centre.
The man who was eligible for four different national sides has, having come to his conclusion, been duly rewarded with a place in the most-trumpeted Belgium squad for the impending World Cup in Brazil. Few would bet against him catching the eye of yet more onlookers during the summer months.