New Years Eve 2011 was meant to be a day of celebration for Manchester United.
United sat atop of the Premier League table and would have remained there if they had defeated bottom placed Blackburn at home, while Sir Alex Ferguson celebrated his 70th birthday.
But for a day that was meant to be a day of celebration turned out to be a disaster for the Red Devils.
United ended up losing the match 2-3, while Ferguson would mark his birthday by making the biggest mistake in his Manchester United reign.
Leading up to the match, United had a midfield injury crisis. Tom Cleverly, Anderson and Ryan Giggs were all injured, while Michael Carrick was forced to play in defence, forcing Ferguson to field winger, Park Ji-sung and right back, Rafael in the centre of midfield.
Usually Ferguson’s manoeuvres pay off but on this day they would not, especially when he failed to promote one of United’s most exciting academy prospects.
Paul Pogba was always a special talent. Whether he was playing in the under 18’s or in the Reserve’s, he was always the star man.
Along with Ravel Morrison, Pogba was tipped to be United’s main man in midfield for the decade that followed.
But instead of allowing Pogba to show his potential against the bottom placed side on the Premier League, Ferguson chose two players unfamiliar with the central midfield position, infuriating Pogba, who made the decision to leave United following this game.
Pogba left United for Juventus at the end of the season in the pursuit of regular first team football.
Pogba’s decision didn’t go down to well with Ferguson and in his book, ‘Leading’, Ferguson discussed Pogba’s exit and the distrust of Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola.
“There are one or two football agents I simply do not like, and Mino Raiola, Paul Pogba’s agent is one of them,” said Ferguson.
“I distrusted him from the moment I met him. He became Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s agent while he was playing for Ajax, and eventually he would end up representing Pogba, who was only 18-years-old at the time.
“We had Paul under a three-year contract, and it had a one-year renewal option which we were eager to sign. But Raiola suddenly appeared on the scene and our first meeting was a fiasco.
“He and I were like oil and water. From then on, our goose was cooked because Raiola had been able to ingratiate himself with Paul and his family and the player signed with Juventus.”
Ferguson would then go on to say that United were better off parting with Pogba after the disloyalty he showed to the club.
For the years that followed, it did seem Ferguson would be correct and Pogba would never return to the Theatre of Dreams. While there were rumblings of a possible return while Fergusons heirs David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal were in charge, it always seemed a bridge too steep.
Ferguson was and is still on the United board and it seemed the tensions between himself and Pogba would prevent any reunion.
But when the self proclaimed ‘Special One’, Jose Mourinho became United’s newest manager, the possibility of Pogba’s return increased.
Mourinho was in line to be Ferguson’s replacement in 2013, but Ferguson, along with fellow board members including Sir Bobby Charlton believed Mourinho was too much of a handful for United and selected David Moyes.
But after three years of disappointment, the much-maligned Executive Vice-Chairman, Ed Woodward selected Mourinho as United manager.
Woodward has been perceived as being easily manipulated into making rash decisions and takes an excessive amount of time to purchase players, who usually are not worth the fee’s United pay form them.
But Woodward’s swift appointment of Mourinho and his desire to purchase players as quickly as possible has seen his stocks rise with the United faithful.
And when it emerge that United were interested in Paul Pogba, fans had little doubt that he would be wearing the famous red kit once again.
With Woodward, Mourinho and Pogba all at United, it seems Ferguson’s stranglehold on United is finally diminishing.
Ferguson will always be a legend of the club and fans will always remember his time as manager, but for the future of the club, it was time to move on and make decisions that Ferguson may not have accepted.