David Moyes says he did not want Marouane Fellaini to be his first Manchester United signing and tried to buy Nemanja Matic first.
Fellaini moved to Old Trafford on deadline day in 2013 at the end of a summer that had seen Moyes replace Sir Alex Ferguson as manager.
A calamitous transfer window got Moyes' reign off to a rocky start and he was sacked before the end of the season.
He told the BBC: "I never wanted Marouane Fellaini to be my first Manchester United signing, that is the last thing me and my staff wanted.
"We looked at Nemanja Matic first. He did not do well at Chelsea and had gone back to Benfica.
"He was a consideration and we did need a more defensive type who could make passes from the middle of the park. We did not get a lot of the things we hoped for and got Fellaini on deadline day."
Fellaini was the only signing Moyes managed to make in his first summer at United.
But the former Everton manager also said he tried to hijack Gareth Bale's move from Tottenham to Real Madrid and almost convinced Cesc Fabregas to leave Barcelona.
He added: "I spoke to Gareth Bale a couple of times and tried to convince him to join us, we even offered Tottenham more money but he had his heart set on joining Real Madrid.
"I spoke to Cesc Fabregas on the phone too and he was not sure of his place in the Barcelona team. He said: 'I will join you if I do not start my first game of the season at Barca' ... and he did start.
"They were the only two who looked like Manchester United players.
"If Sir Alex Ferguson took over from Sir Alex Ferguson he would have found it tough."