Though Manchester United won the league again in 2003, the team that had claimed seven Premier League titles in nine years struggled for silverware in the early 2000s.
But Ferguson splashed the cash on top players like Rio Ferdinand (left), who signed from Leeds for £30m in 2002, and Wayne Rooney signed from Everton two years later.
Ferguson also invested in a young Portuguese winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, with a view to the future.
Not every gamble paid off - expensive signings like Diego Forlan and Juan Sebastian Veron failed to sparkle.
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