The struggles being endured by Manchester United can be traced back to David Moyes signing Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata, says Paul Scholes, with those deals setting off “alarm bells”.
A change in the dugout at Old Trafford in 2013 saw the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson head into retirement and a fellow Scot take his place.
Moyes would last only a matter of months in a prominent Premier League post, with the first signs of cracks in the United dynasty beginning to show during his reign.
Questionable transfer business is considered to have done his cause few favours, with big money spent bringing in Fellaini from Everton and Mata from Chelsea.
Scholes believes neither, despite taking in several seasons with the Red Devils, were or are of the required quality.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now charged with the task of righting the wrongs of the recent past, with United considered to be lacking the necessary leaders on and off the field.
Club legend Scholes told Radio 5 Live: “When you look five or six years ago, when Alex Ferguson left, the other person who probably didn’t get the credit he deserved was David Gill. He was a football man, he knew football.
“From the day he went, as well as Sir Alex, it’s been difficult.
“I think there were alarm bells straight away really when David took over and he signed Juan Mata and Fellaini for something like £70m, who are good players in their own right but I don’t think they were Man United players.
“I don’t think Alex Ferguson or David Gill would have signed those type of players and I think from then on alarm bells have rang and we’re in the position we are now because of buying players who we don’t really think were Man United players, and Ole’s there now and he’s got the opportunity to put that right.”
Solskjaer is at the wheel for now, but questions have been asked of his ongoing presence amid further struggles for consistency.
Scholes believes a former team-mate will be given time, with at least another two years required in order for United to get their house in order.
The former midfielder added, with deals done over the summer for Harry Maguire, Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka: “I think four or five transfer windows [are needed], and they’ve got to be four or five good transfer windows!
“I think Ole’s first few signings have been very good, very promising, and as long as he’s the man in charge, then I don’t see a problem.”
Of more immediate concern to Solskjaer and United is a meeting with old adversaries Liverpool on Sunday, with the Red Devils preparing to play host to the Premier League leaders.
Scholes admits inspiration is going to be required from somewhere, with an attacking spark having been lacking to this point and further injury setbacks delivering an unwelcome headache.
He said: “I know it’s difficult to see where United goals are coming from.
“It will have to be a bit of individual brilliance because the creativity of the team isn’t really there, especially without [Paul] Pogba playing.
“[Marcus] Rashford is capable of it. Dan James has shown he is capable of it. From a set-piece, Harry Maguire could be capable of it.”