And back big time.
Not that they were really ever gone mind.
It’s just now the fears of them actually going away have been extinguished.
For anyone who ever had any doubt - Louis Van Gaal gave them one hundred and fifty four million reasons this summer.
Each single reason a pound.
A single currency that appears to be Manchester United’s new way of thinking.
Although very much their old one when you give it a moment’s thought.
A lot has been said about how United have become the new Manchester City.
Or the new Chelsea.
Even the new Real Madrid with the phrase ‘The Galáticos’ being replaced with ‘The Gaaláticos’.
Truth is, they were always that.
They just hadn’t flexed this muscle as often in the previous few seasons.
There were clubs who spent more than United during Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure, sure.
But United were invariably coming from a healthy position of talent.
When they had to spend big to address any discrepancies they may have had - they did.
Sir Alex Ferguson broke the British transfer record five times alone.
The only reason it’s not six is because Robinho signed the same night as Dimitar Berbatov.
The Brazilian forward becoming the first major signing to symbolise Manchester City’s ‘buying success’ period.
He cost a mere £1.75 million more than what their city rivals had just paid.
The following summers saw an increase in City’s spending but only because they were starting from a distance back.
They needed to play catch-up first to obtain success before they could try sustain it.
A much more expensive game.
A game of heavy spending that inflation has a habit of distorting.
But just as Chelsea or Manchester City needed to do so of late - United needed to play catch up on Arsenal in the summer of 1998.
It was a huge summer.
A £27 million size summer.
Dwight Yorke, Jaap Stam, Jasper Blomqvist all bought in.
Almost triple the amount spent by their nearest rivals.
An historic treble followed.
A treble funded by the largest outlay any English club had green lighted before.
Manchester City have been the most recent club accused of buying success.
But it’s been a long time since a team hasn’t.
The last of the non ‘big’ teams to win the league was Blackburn Rovers.
Bankrolled by the treasure chest of Jack Walker, they paid huge sums for various players at the time.
The British transfer record was broke to bring Alan Shearer to Ewood Park before they won the title.
There’s even teams in the Premier League who have spent massive amounts to ‘buy success’ yet just haven’t achieved the desired results that go with this expression of intended derision.
Liverpool have spent more than Manchester United in the Premier League era.
Tottenham Hotspur have spent more than Arsenal.
The only difference between what they did and Manchester City or Chelsea did is the amount spent in the first few seasons of this ‘new’ money.
Playing catch-up meant they had to spend big to jump up to a level playing field with the established clubs.
But just as this season sees Manchester City spending only £50 million compared to their previous larger amounts - a plateau invariably occurs.
Resulting in spending now that equates little difference to the regular spends of Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal or Tottenham of certain periods in the last 22 years.
£154 million was a huge outlay.
And one suspects there will be more money spent come January and next summer.
But it’s no different to breaking the British transfer record to bring Juan Sebastien Veron to the club for £28.1 million in 2001.
Nor is it any different to breaking the world transfer record for a defender when they brought in Rio Ferdinand for £29.1 million in 2002.
Roy Keane, Andy Cole, Ruud Van Nistelrooy the same.
All 5 times Sir Alex Ferguson broke the British transfer record was an example of a big club buying success.
It’s been that way for a long, long time.
Manchester United haven’t become the new Chelsea.
Haven’t become the new Manchester City either.
And they certainly haven’t sold their soul.
They’re just back to their traditional Manchester United selves.
The original big spenders of the Premier League.
Intent on buying success again...