Manchester United’s “great traditions” have “gone”, according to their former boss and current Sunderland manager David Moyes.
The Scot was sacked by United in 2014 – less than a season after being chosen to replace club legend Sir Alex Ferguson.
He said the club had “tended to pick British managers” and never felt the need to impose themselves in the transfer market.
“I can say that’s gone,” added Moyes.
“There have been a few changes at Manchester United but that’s the way they have chosen to go.”
United have spent £480m since Ferguson retired in 2013 after 26 years as manager.
They broke their club record in January 2014 by signing midfielder Juan Mata from Chelsea for £37.1m – a deal done under Moyes, and spent a British record £59.7m on Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria later that year, after Dutchman Louis van Gaal took over.
In August this year, they gave new boss Jose Mourinho a world record £89m to sign midfielder Paul Pogba from Juventus.
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“They were a football club who enjoyed traditions with the way they spent,” said Moyes, who returns to Old Trafford as a manager on Boxing Day, with relegation-threatened Sunderland, for the first time since he was sacked.
“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.
“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 repeated a claim that he was “definitely unfairly treated” by not being given enough time and also confirmed that the club missed out on a number of major transfers during his short tenure – including Real Madrid and Wales forward Gareth Bale, Madrid team-mate Toni Kroos and Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas.
“When I first went in my real target was Gareth Bale,” said Moyes. “I felt all along that Gareth Bale was a Manchester United player.
“I fought right until the last minute. We actually offered a bigger deal than Real Madrid. 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.
“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. I was not going out to bring in seven, eight players, because we had a squad which had just won the league.
“Toni Kroos was agreed to come in the summer. I had agreed it with Toni himself and his agent. 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.
“A lot of players come into Manchester United and have not necessarily made the difference. But I think that, given time and having got to this period, I would have hoped I would be working with a successful team now.”