It's transfer deadline day and Manchester United, after another inept performance at Anfield yesterday, are yet to make a signing that can add any dimension to the squad.
Don't let the 4-1 opening day victory over Swansea fool you; Manchester United were not 3 goals better than Swansea. Were it not for the ruthless finishing of Robin Van Persie and the shooting ability of Danny Welbeck, it could have been another defeat - Manchester United had as many shots as Swansea, and less of the ball.
Manchester United manager David Moyes claimed at the beginning of his tenure that the midfield was his primary concern when adding any new players to the squad this transfer window. Fast forward two months, and after the shambolic fruitless eye fluttering at Cesc Fabregas, no bid for Thiago Alcantara, and missing Marouane Fellaini's release clause date, Manchester United have embarrassed themselves with only a few hours left to complete any deals. This in itself creates a problem as the club will surely be held to ransom by selling clubs.
And Manchester United are desperate. Contrary to popular belief, this day is not when bargains are sought by top clubs. This is a time when any club contacted by Manchester United will add many millions to the price of the player United are interested in.
Here are 3 players, however, that Manchester United should have signed weeks ago:
It was well known to the entire football world that Thiago's hugely decreased release clause was set at €18m due to not meeting the quota of first team games last season for Barcelona.
Now any person that has seen Thiago play would have known straight away that this player is top class. Samba flair mixed with Barcelona's La Masia upbringing has moulded a player with incredible technique and an astute eye for goal.
Thiago's touch and skill is only matched by very few young players in Europe. Now bear in mind these young players would be signed for €30m+, it's crazy to think that Manchester United did not make a sensible bid for him. Thiago came out and said United did not show any interest, and once Guardiola came out to say Thiago was the only player he wanted, Manchester United were left out in the cold.
This is was exactly the type of player that United needed, a player that can unlock defences and play between the lines, but without restricting what a Number 10 (ideally Kagawa) would add to the side. Effectively a player that can play between Carrick and Kagawa, and this deficiency was as clear as day in the loss to Liverpool at the weekend.
Patrice Evra is 32. Leighton Baines is 29 in a couple of months. Fabio Coentrao is 25.
Contextually, Baines is English and will cost upwards of £25m given what happens in this country with any English player with some semblance of talent. It's clear that United need a new left back to come in once Evra stops playing age-defying football and unfortunately, Baines is not the answer.
Fabio Coentrao stated at the beginning of the transfer window that he wants to leave Real Madrid. Due to this, a lower price could have been a factor, yet no one came in for him. It's been so long now that the player has decided to stay. This is a shame as he hasn't featured at all this season and quality left sided defenders are few and far between. He shares similar traits to Evra with his marauding style and technique on the ball, and it's a shame this is another opportunity missed. With Buttner as Evra's understudy, it's a sad indictment for a club of Manchester United's calibre.
Manchester United have more money to spend on players than many think. A club that flirts with the top two places on the income list in football is very rich - rich enough to pay what it would take to bring back the best player this decade has seen in a Manchester United shirt.
United have missed Ronaldo immensely since his departure in 2009. They have won the league in his absence yes, but that's hardly the tall order it used to be with the quality of the league diminishing in recent years. Take a look at last season, and a team shorn of a jealousy inducing midfield won the league with relative ease.
It's on the European stage, however, that United lack quality and ever since Athletic Bilbao embarrassed them twice in the Europa League, problems have persisted in United's European performances. Nani and replacement Valencia are both frustratingly talente,d but not what Manchester United need. And Ashley Young would deserve a mention if he actually knew how to play football at this level.
Ronaldo hasn't been happy in Madrid for two years now. And with Gareth Bale now Madrid bound, this was the opportunity for Manchester United to bring home the player that still gets sung about at every home game. The prodigal son needs to return, preferably before he turns 30.
image: © gordonflood