David Moyes felt Gareth Bale and Cesc Fabregas "looked like Manchester United players" amid the transfer setbacks that hindered his dismal Old Trafford reign.
Former Everton boss Moyes signed a six-year contract as Alex Ferguson's successor at United in 2013 but failed to see out his first season, sacked before the 20-time and then defending English champions limped to seventh place in the Premier League.
The market mis-steps during the early days of Moyes' tenure have been well documented, with the likes of Toni Kroos and Ander Herrera reportedly missed out on before United paid heavily to bring in Marouane Fellaini from Everton.
Bale and Fabregas were also linked to Old Trafford and failing to secure the star duo from Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively still lingers for Moyes.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Moyes revealed Fabregas gave his word he would look to sign for United if he failed to make the Barca starting line-up for the opening game of the 2013-14 campaign - he was named for a 7-0 thumping of Levante, eventually moving to Chelsea for the start of the subsequent season.
"I tried to convince them but we couldn't do so. We offered more money to Tottenham [than Real Madrid for Bale] at that time," Moyes said.
"Cesc Fabregas, who I spoke to on the phone several times, was not sure of his place in the Barcelona team and I remember him saying if he didn't start the first game at Barcelona he would definitely be looking to join us.
50% - David Moyes won half of his Premier League games as Manchester United manager (P34 W17 D6 L11). Regret. pic.twitter.com/xpyJKKUgaD-- OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 23, 2016
"And he started the first game at Barcelona. So, small things - you're waiting on things happening.
"But I don't want it to sound like hard luck stories because there were other players I wanted join as well but they were the two who I think looked like Manchester United players."
Moyes went on from United to an underwhelming spell with Real Sociedad in LaLiga before helming Sunderland's relegation from the Premier League last season.
This week, he said he would be "happy to talk" to the Scottish Football Association over replacing Gordon Strachan as manager of his country, although he would prefer a return to club management.