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Manchester United must fear the Glazers asking where the money is going after splashing £490m on players in dismal five years since Alex Ferguson’s exit

THE fear for Manchester United is that one day soon the Glazer family might ask what the money is actually being spent on.

In the five years up to Sir Alex Ferguson retiring there was a net spend of £71million on players — and in that time the club won three titles, a League Cup and reached two Champions League finals.

 Alexis Sanchez has so far been perhaps the biggest flop of them all for Man Utd

EPA

Alexis Sanchez has so far been perhaps the biggest flop of them all for Man Utd

In the five years since, the net spend has been £490m resulting in an FA Cup, a League Cup and the Europa League.

There has not been a title challenge in sight and just one last-eight Champions League appearance.

Of course there are factors behind the figures, like the huge hike in transfer fees and the argument that the squad Sir Alex bequeathed was not all that.

But you look at the bottom line and the Glazers would argue that money does not buy success — not the way it has been spent anyway.

 Eric Bailly joined to boost the United defence but problems at the back persist

PA:Press Association

Eric Bailly joined to boost the United defence but problems at the back persist
 Nemanja Matic reflects on one of the worst ever Champions League nights for Manchester United as Sevilla dumped them out at Old Trafford on Tuesday

Getty - Contributor

Nemanja Matic reflects on one of the worst ever Champions League nights for Manchester United as Sevilla dumped them out at Old Trafford on Tuesday

Who in that spending under three managers has been a real hit?

Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata come closest.

"Everything must change," said boss Jose Mourinho on Tuesday night when asked how United would return to Europe’s elite.

'LUDICROUS' Alexis Sanchez questioning Manchester United move already and fans as bad as team, claims Paul Ince

The problem is they have been changing everything at United for five years — managers and players — and have not come close to challenging Chelsea, Leicester or Manchester City for the Premier League never mind rejoining Europe’s big boys.

It is a mark of United’s status that they still bring huge amounts of cash in, and so service the owners’ debt, and spend big.

Five things Jose Mourinho must do to get Man United fans back on side

The major spend has just allowed United to keep in touch in their quest to reclaim their glorious past — but last year’s two trophies will not count as part of that . . . nor will Louis Van Gaal’s FA Cup.

The bigger fear for United fans is that it remains just that — the past.

The public pronouncements from the three managers since Sir Alex may not have been what a fan base drunk on success has wanted to hear — but maybe it is time to sober up.

Every Red will have been left with a sore head on Wednesday morning even if they had spent the previous night drinking green tea.

The pain of the Champions League exit to Sevilla in the last 16 was still very raw, as were the words of Mourinho.

He said: “I don’t want to make a drama of it we don’t have time we have a match on Saturday we have no time to be sad for more than 24 hours and that’s football, it is not the end of the world.

 Jose Mourinho must have big questions for himself and his expensive squad after Sevilla humbled them over two mediocre legs in the Champions League last 16

EPA

Jose Mourinho must have big questions for himself and his expensive squad after Sevilla humbled them over two mediocre legs in the Champions League last 16

“I’ve sat in this chair twice in the Champions League having knocked Man United out with Porto and Real Madrid, so it is not something new for the club.”

As one staunch United fan tweeted: “Mourinho’s comments after the game have angered me more than the game itself.”

This, however, is a fan who still remembers three finals in four years between 2008-11 — including the drama of the penalty-kick win over Chelsea in Moscow — and further back to the treble season.

 Club-record buy Paul Pogba is currently struggling to earn a starting role for Utd

Getty - Contributor

Club-record buy Paul Pogba is currently struggling to earn a starting role for Utd

The recent history is very different. The furthest they have been in this competition in the last six seasons is the quarter-finals . . . once.

There was a period between 2003-06 when they failed to get past the last 16 and in 2005-06 they went out in the group stage with United fans turning on the players after defeat in Lille.

So take the rose-tinted spectacles off and it has not always been technicolour football and glory, glory.

 Summer buy Romelu Lukaku is regaining form after critics began to circle

AFP or licensors

Summer buy Romelu Lukaku is regaining form after critics began to circle

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Sir Alex himself always said that three European Cups was not enough for a club of this size. The three spread over 50 years makes them seventh in the all-time list.

Not bad, but when Mourinho said before the game “we cannot say that United is hugely successful at European level”, he had a point.

Just as David Moyes did after a home derby defeat in 2013 when he said his side should aspire to play at Manchester City’s level.

Or when Van Gaal kept dismissing the idea with a sneer that United would dominate again.

Jose Mourinho desperately tries to defend Manchester United after shock Champions League exit

Still Mourinho’s utterance was hardly the rousing words Sir Alex used to come out with about ‘great European nights at Old Trafford’ even though they have been pretty thin on the ground since 1999.

Europe has provided some of the club’s lowest moments of late — a 2-0 away defeat to Olympiakos in 2014 that convinced the board Moyes had to go, even though he turned the tie around.

The 2-0 away defeat to Liverpool in 2016 in the Europa League did likewise for Van Gaal.

 All-time great Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson had great success - bringing on young players like Ryan Giggs as well as spending shrewdly

Getty - Contributor

All-time great Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson had great success - bringing on young players like Ryan Giggs as well as spending shrewdly

Now this. Two legs against a very average Sevilla side which saw United muster four shots on target in 180 minutes and go out.

It is ludicrous to suggest Mourinho will go the same way as the last two.

Wins over Chelsea and Liverpool and a spirited comeback against Crystal Palace suggested things were actually going forward.

This has just reminded everyone where United are at right now, and where they may stay for a while yet.

us!