Far from the days when Manchester United had more than enough solid back-line manned by the likes of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, other than current goalkeeper David de Gea none of the current defenders at United come half as close to replicating the forms of those they were supposed to replace.

During the twilight of Sir Alex Ferguson’s time at United, Phil Jones and Smalling were seriously groomed to take over and at least be the decade’s center-back pairing for the Red Devils for the foreseeable future but the disintegration of the club in just about every department made it impossible for them to do so.

Today, Smalling is in Italy, on loan while Jones is in England, committing the most comical of errors when called upon to fill in for absent younger players who are either on suspension or on the treatment table.

It is not as if Smalling would have been anything but better had he not gone on loan. The England international has been at United for a decade. Like Jones, he had had his chance to cement a place for himself in the squad no matter who the coach was but he just couldn’t do it.

It begs the question if the fault was from Sir Alex himself or just nature coming in full circle and just reminding United that the Law of Diminishing Returns is still a thing. For two decades they dominated England to the point other teams started giving up at ever matching up.

Thankfully for Petrodollars and other kinds of largesse, Arab owners have now shown that indeed, money has influence as evidenced by the turnaround of quality at Manchester City and the fact that arguably the best coach in the world, Pep Guardiola is currently on their pay-roll.