"It took me three-and-a-half years to win a trophy. I had to get rid of a lot of players to create the position to buy players. In the 1988-89 season, we got rid of eight or nine players so we could buy Gary Pallister, Paul Ince, Mike Phelan, Danny Wallace and Neil Webb.
"We had to bring in youth, we knew fine well where we were going all right. I said to the chairman the season before, when we were second to Liverpool: "This team could never win the league." I knew they couldn't win the league. We worked away at it."
What has changed, Ferguson feels, is the scope to play the transfer market as he once did. There are now fewer bargains, with the value of a player extracted much more ruthlessly.
"There's no question that the market today is horrendous for everyone, even ourselves," he says.
"If I'd have thought 10 years ago I'd pay £22million for a player in the last year of his contract [Robin van Persie], you would've said: 'Don't be stupid. It's the daftest thing you could ever do.' But we're in that market."