Man Utd’s lack of signings could scupper season success
Manchester United, odds-on 4/11 with Coral for a top four finish, have shown a distinct lack of activity in this year’s Winter transfer market, despite a need for quality in key positions.
The Red Devils are involved in an ongoing fight to secure fourth spot and guarantee a place in next season’s Champions League, while also aiming to lift their 12th FA Cup crown after an 11-year drought in the competition.
United climbed up to third in the Premier League table this week following a comfortable 3-1 victory over Leicester City and Swansea City toppling Southampton at the Liberty Stadium, while they host Cambridge United in a fourth round FA Cup replay this week.
Despite many crucial fixtures coming thick and fast for Louis van Gaal’s side, the Dutch manager has been extremely quiet in the transfer market, seeing Victor Valdes as the only big name to arrive at Old Trafford.
Barcelona’s former Champions League winning goalkeeper had already been training with the club for several months following his departure from Spain, eventually agreeing a permanent move to United.
Any other activity in the red half of Manchester have been departures, with out-of-favour Brazilian midfielder Anderson leaving for his native country, while winger Wilfried Zaha completed a permanent switch to Crystal Palace after a loan spell at Selhurst park.
A lack of movement from Dutch boss Van Gaal may worry fans, with the two teams above United in the table having boosted their squad for the remainder of the current campaign.
Table toppers Chelsea signed Colombia winger Juan Cuadrado from Italian side Fiorentina and United’s local rivals Manchester City captured Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony from Swansea, leaving Van Gaal’s men well-behind in market movement.
Top four hopefuls United have been relentlessly linked with a host of world class players, with defensive and central midfield areas the main positions of weakness in Van Gaal’s squad.
Borussia Dortmund’s dominant defender Mats Hummels was touted to arrive at Old Trafford along with Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman, who worked under Man Utd’s Dutch coach at international level for the Netherlands.
However, with Van Gaal’s reported target Strootman having picked up a season-ending injury and World Cup winning centre-back Hummels stating his intention to stay in Germany until at least the summer, United have shown no signs of strengthening this month.
The absence of activity could spell disaster for Van Gaal with a huge proportion of the season still left to play, and many important clashes on the horizon including a trip to Upton Park and an encounter with Merseyside rivals Liverpool not far away.
In recent seasons, even during that of David Moyes’ short reign, the Red Devils were keen to revamp their squad and bolster options in specific areas. Last January, Moyes secured the signing of Spanish playmaker Juan Mata from Chelsea, boosting attacking outlets at the club for the rest of that term.
Other deals have included defensive duo Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra, who were both captured in the January window of 2006 for a combined fee of £12.5m from Spartak Moscow and Monaco respectively, proving to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s most successful winter business.
Current coach Van Gaal may have missed a trick this year, refusing to be drawn into any major mid-season negotiations and failing to bolster his defensive and midfield options for a long run in this term.
The lack of arrivals at Old Trafford could end critically for United’s pursuit of fourth spot and an FA Cup triumph, with fellow top-flight sides securing deals for new singings, as the season reaches a vital stage.
Van Gaal’s unchanged outfit are 11/4 to lift the FA Cup trophy this season.