Spanish football expert Guillem Balague claims Manchester United are up to four players short of being serious challengers to Chelsea and Manchester City in the Premier League title race.
United currently sit third in the table, seven points behind City after their draw against Aston Villa and ten points behind Chelsea at the top of the table.
Balague feels that despite some impressive signings last summer, Louis van Gaal needs more firepower if the team is to compete for the title over the next few months.
“United are three or four high-quality players away from fighting with Manchester City and Chelsea,” he wrote for AS.
“It’s true that they are still not playing very well, that the system with three centre-backs does not quite work and that, aside from a comfortable win against Hull, they could have won or lost the rest of the matches that they played in the last month and a half.”
United will still believe that a title challenge is possible but the priority for the club this season was always going to be to get back into the top four.
United’s heavy spending last summer has put the club under financial strain and the funds created from being in the Champions League will help soften the blow over the course of the next calendar year, allowing United to add again in the summer.
What will give United hope of winning the league is the way City fought back to win their first Premier League title in the current era.
Towards the end of the 2011/2012 season, Manchester United held an eight point lead going into the final six games with City coming back to win the league thanks to that infamous late goal from Sergio Aguero against Queens Park Rangers.
It’s an extremely difficult task, but with big spending unlikely in January, the players Balague suggests United still need may not arrive until the summer.