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Manchester United have endured a steep decline since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Managers have come and gone, but it is the transfer business of the Red Devils which has often come in for intense criticism.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the latest manager struggling to build a squad that can lead United back to former glories.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has regularly come under scrutiny for his role in charge of transfer dealings since 2013.

And comments from United legend Paul Scholes underline where Woodward is going wrong.

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Scholes recently admitted being “devastated” by the departure of “best mate” Nicky Butt as Sir Alex Ferguson made a big decision back in 2004.

Ferguson wasted little time disposing of Butt when he deemed him surplus to requirements – but Scholes and team-mates accepted it was “part of football”.

There is little room for sentiment, and Scholes recognised Ferguson’s knack of knowing when to let players depart and being able to replace them with top players with regularity.

“That’s why it was such a constant continuation of a being a top team,” Scholes said.

The departure of Nicky Butt left Paul Scholes "devastated" when they were players
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Fast forward to the modern era, and United are paying the price for failing to offload players at the right time.

They have been stuck unable to get the likes of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo off the wage bill, whilst other players considered by many to not be up to standards are still involved.

Whereas Scholes noted big characters being replaced by other top players, the Red Devils have been hit-and-miss at best with major signings since Ferguson’s departure.

"It was all part of football. When you start out with those five or six lads you hope that you’ll be there for the next 20 years," Scholes told DAZN.

Solskjaer is experiencing problems Ferguson didn't in terms of ruthless and decisive transfer business
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"Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way. You lose people along the way. Nicky went and Nicky was my best mate – I’d grown up with him since I was 12 or 13. You’re devastated, I really was devastated.

"Phil Neville went, Roy Keane went, some really big characters. Look players have to go they might come to a certain age where their legs weren’t quite what they were.

"The manager knew how to get the best out of those players, whether they’d play 20 games a season but he always knew when the time was right for them to go.

"Sometimes the player didn’t always agree with that but that’s what it was all about; changing teams and then the excitement of bringing players in.

"You mention players there like Teddy [Sheringham], [Andy] Coley, [Dwight] Yorkey such brilliant attacking players and [Jaap] Stam – what a top centre half he was.

"He had a system and he just tried to replace the top players he had with other top players who were similar in that position. That’s why it was such a constant continuation of a being a top team."

As Scholes said, Ferguson had a winning system nailed down.

Since his departure, that has certainly not been the case at Old Trafford.