Our Manchester United's 'Team of the Decade' highlights recent struggles

As the end of the 2010s draws near, the time is right to have some fun and pick Manchester United’s best eleven players of the decade.

It has been largely a tough watch since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement – as indicated by the fact the bulk of the players in this team played under the Scot despite the fact he left in 2013.

That is a damning indictment of the recruitment since then, with very few players who played under David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer realistic contenders.

Goalkeeper and back four

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David de Gea is undoubtedly Manchester United’s Player of the Decade. His consistency has been absurd for much of the past ten years and he is the only player who has maintained his standards throughout the tumult, which would have been even more painful if his 2015 switch to Real Madrid hadn’t faltered at the last.

Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra left Old Trafford in 2014, and it is a depressing signal of the club’s failure to replace them that they remain by far the best options in their respective positions here.

Luke Shaw was supposed to replace Evra, with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling lined up to anchor both United’s and England’s defence for years to come. It hasn’t worked out that way.

Antonio Valencia may be a converted winger forced into action at right back, but his speed, professionalism and diligence make him the right pick here, when Rafael would have had it sewn up if van Gaal didn’t sell him far too early.

Midfield four

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Park Ji Sung arrived for a modest £4m (BBC) back in 2005 but years of lavish spending have yet to throw up a more consistent, dependable winger than the Korean.

United have scarcely bought a specialist right winger since Nani’s 2015 exit and back-to-back ten goal seasons in 2010-11 and 2011-12 make him a more reliable goal threat than any subsequent options.

Michael Carrick adapted to a host of managerial changes with trademark professionalism as more experienced colleagues retired around him.

Paul Scholes retired in 2011, before returning in 2012, by which point he was way past his best and only succeeded in blocking Paul Pogba’s path to the first team.

The Frenchman has more talent than Ander Herrera, but the former Athletic Bilbao midfielder embraced the spirit of the club to a far greater degree, wringing much more from his gifts and should be captain of Manchester United right now, only for Ed Woodward to take him for granted.

A workmanlike quartet for a club accustomed to midfield flair, another indication of how the decade has gone.

Front two

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Romelu Lukaku, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Javier Hernandez, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have all tried to lead the United line but Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie remain unrivalled.

The former Everton man broke the scoring club’s record in 2017 against Stoke and nobody else has even come close to being as prolific as he was during his bad seasons.

Meanwhile, van Persie’s displays in 2012/13 – practically winning the Premier League on his own – are enough to get him into this side alone.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.