Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has dished a glancing blow to predecessor Louis van Gaal after saying he would "never have sold" the likes of Angel Di Maria, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck.
Speaking to the media before Thursday's UEFA Europa League round-of-16 second leg fixture against Rostov, Mourinho lashed out at the mistakes committed before his arrival when speaking to BBC pundit Gary Lineker, via the Press Association's Simon Peach:
Of the three players Mourinho mentioned, Welbeck was the earliest to leave Old Trafford when he completed a deadline-day move to Arsenal in September 2014, only a few months after Van Gaal's arrival at the Theatre of Dreams.
The Dutchman did make some significant purchases and brought Di Maria to the club from Real Madrid in the same summer, although he and Hernandez left just a year later, during the summer of 2015.
Van Gaal's transfer conduct was one of the major factors in his 2016 exit from the club, failing to make the most of the funds afforded to him while allowing several prominent first-team players leave as well.
Stuart Mathieson of the Manchester Evening News acknowledged Mourinho's comments may have been aimed in the direction of Van Gaal, alongside whom he worked at Barcelona during the late 1990s:
However, it's worth taking into account the fact that Van Gaal would not have been the only key influence in transfer dealings during his stay at United, with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward also culpable.
Mourinho followed up his comments on Di Maria, Hernandez and Welbeck with "never, no chance," and many of the supporters at Old Trafford might well have liked to see that trio stick around, too.
Welbeck has found moderate success at the Emirates Stadium, but after growing up in United's academy and featuring regularly in the senior side, it was seen by some as bad business for the forward to be sold to a direct rival.
Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain ended Di Maria's Old Trafford limbo with a move to France in 2015, and Hernandez has found new success with Bayer Leverkusen and become a Bundesliga hotshot:
Mourinho might wish he had their experience this season, especially considering he could use the help out wide, although last summer's arrival Henrikh Mkhitaryan has impressed early on in his United career.
The Portuguese boss has instead made do with the resources granted to him, but one can't help wondering what might have happened had Mourinho made the switch to United just a few seasons earlier.