To say that the last nine years at Manchester United have been underwhelming would be an understatement, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 sparking a dramatic downwards spiral for the club.
Almost a decade after Britain’s most successful manager decided to call it a day, five years have passed since United last got their hands on some silverware.
United’s 2-0 win over Ajax in Stockholm in 2017 was enough to crown them Europa League champions, which papered over domestic cracks that had seen them finish sixth in the Premier League that season.
The following season was supposed to be the year they finally challenged their rivals for the Premier League crown once more but instead, it was the start of the club’s downfall into oblivion.
United’s win over a young Ajax side was comprehensive and Jose Mourinho still views it as one of his biggest achievements but amid United’s latest exodus of players, only one player remains from that team.
Sergio Romero was largely unbothered throughout the game but stayed at the club for another four years before leaving in 2021. The backline was made up of Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian. All four had left the club within two years.
In midfield, Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini were both involved in the goals that secured the cup but the latter was marginalised by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 18 months later, leading to his departure. Pogba, who scored the first goal, will leave United at the end of this month upon the expiry of his contract.
Ander Herrera also started the game but left two years later on a free transfer, whilst Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the other goalscorer, left halfway into the next season in the infamous Alexis Sanchez swap deal.
Juan Mata was the tenth player to start the game and like Pogba, is set to walk away from Old Trafford this summer when his deal runs out.
Marcus Rashford spearheaded United’s attack on that night and is the only player remaining from the last United side to win a trophy.
His future at the club is also in doubt, with the 24-year-old believed to be seeking clarity on his future under new manager Erik ten Hag. Interestingly, Ten Hag was appointed Ajax manager just six months after the final in question.
Rashford has just one year remaining on his contract and United and is unlikely to sign a new deal unless his form improves.