Manchester United: What Should United Look for in the January Transfer Window?
After a strong summer transfer window that saw the Red Devils bring in several new attacking options, Manchester United have now found themselves in a solid position for the remainder of the season in the English Premier League.
Sir Alex Ferguson's men currently sit in second position on the table, with just the undefeated Chelsea ahead of them, and have made excellent starts in both the Capital One Cup and the UEFA Champions League.
However, their squad is not one that is completely perfect, and they too will be looking to the January transfer window to bring in some new options and some new players—adding depth to positions that they need to solidify and adding new and exciting players into the United core.
So what should United look for in the transfer window?
Should they spend their time trying to add in another striker or another midfielder or are they better served concentrating their efforts defensively?
We'll explore all that in the remainder of this article, which hopefully will give us some good insight into the Red Devils will approach the January transfer window.
This is not as much naming players to fill certain gaps, for there is plenty of time for that before the transfer window actually opens. What we're looking to do here is see what United should do in terms of positions and formations, and how that will play itself out over the winter window.
Let's take a look at some key points now.
United do not need another striker
Strikers are the most talked-about and rumored players over any transfer window, simply because they often carry with them the prestige and the price tag that other players do not carry—such as a defender or a goalkeeper.
And whilst it would not doubt be nice to add the names of Fernando Llorente or Radamel Falcao into the Red Devils starting lineup, the reality is that it isn't going to happen, and it isn't even close to likely to happening over the January transfer window.
First off, Sir Alex Ferguson is unlikely to shell out the £30 or £40 million required to bring the likes of Falcao to Old Trafford and even if he were, there is no logic or reasoning to suggest that United need another striker on their books.
For if they were, they would have kept Dimitar Berbatov.
Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez are all world-class strikers and are all great additions to the United attack, and will demonstrate so throughout the season at different points respectively.
To suggest that the Red Devils need to add in another player on top of that group is simply ridiculous, and isn't going to happen over the transfer window.
And even in the unlikely event that all four strikers go down with season-ending injuries in the same match, players like Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia have played up front for United before, and could do so again—should they be needed.
I just can't see Sir Alex Ferguson pursuing another big-name striker to add into the books. He got his man—Robin van Persie—and I just can't see it happening again.
United do need some help defensively
What the most pressing need for United is, at least now anyway, the lack of depth and talent in defense due to injuries right throughout their squad.
Nemanja Vidic, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling will all likely be back by the time that the January transfer window rolls around, but their absence over the past few weeks has been noticeably difficult for Manchester United.
Because of their injury, the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans have been forced to play significant minutes over the past month, and are in line for a well-deserved rest at some point, but cannot take a break until their squad regains some of its depth and consistency.
Thus it wouldn't be completely ridiculous for Ferguson to add in some defensive help for the Red Devils and judging by what happened last season, I'd think that it would seem almost foolish for the manager not to boost the squad in this way.
Manchester City won the Premier League title on goal difference last year—meaning that one draw or one loss was the difference between glory and heartbreak for United. The Red Devils will be all too aware of how key injuries derailed several weeks of the season last year: weeks that would turn out to cost them their title chances in the end.
They'll be desperate to make sure that they are fully prepared and equipped to handle playing in several competitions without sacrificing talent, and for United, that starts with their defense and adding in another player or two into the books.
I wouldn't expect them to be world-class defenders who will instantly set the world on fire; what I would expect is a few more players like Alexander Buttner.
Cheap, relatively unknown, but very sound defensively and a more than capable cover or replacement for a starting role in defense this season.
United could use another defensive midfielder
As a big fan of Tom Cleverley and the potential for success that he has at Old Trafford, please know that my comments about the Red Devils needing another defensive midfielder are not born out of a "nobody is as good as Paul Scholes"-type logic.
The England international is strong and capable, and will most likely take over the starting position for United towards the end of the season as the likes of Scholes and Michael Carrick start to receive the rest that their bodies need.
Having said that, he simply hasn't performed as well as United would like him to have performed so far this season, and whilst it is only a maybe, we could see the addition of another defensive midfielder over the January transfer window because of it.
Let's face it—Scholes and Carrick aren't young anymore, and as good as they are, they cannot run the United midfield all of this year and into the future as well. It simply isn't possible; United need another long-term prospect to take over in the holding role at some point this season.
Cleverley is the player that fits the most, as does Darren Fletcher to a lesser extent, but given the latter's history of injuries and lack of playing time because of it, Ferguson could opt for experience and proven success.
Of course, that depends on both the availability and the feasibility of such a player, with the likes of Isco a known target, but perhaps not the best fit at Manchester United.
Again, I wouldn't expect this to be a Robin van Persie-type signing, but it could be a little more like Shinji Kagawa—known and competent, but still plenty of untapped potential that could be used to devastating effect for the Red Devils.
United still have lots of good talent in this department—Anderson, Nick Powell, Jesse Lingard, Ryan Tunnicliffe and perhaps even Adrian Januzaj—so the addition of another midfielder might not be the move that Ferguson does end up making in the January transfer window.
What we have then is largely what many would expect to take place—a solid signing or two but nothing to blow expectations and shatter assumptions.
The January transfer window can be a quick-fix for a sudden injury or problem, but the majority of moves that take place are to boost the overall depth and quality of a squad for the remainder of the season ahead.
Should Manchester United still be in all major competitions by this stage, adding in good squad players to cover Premier League matches or cup ties when needed will be crucial for the Red Devils' chance at picking up a trophy at some point this year.
Expect a defender to be added in by Ferguson, and perhaps another defensive midfielder to give another alternative to Cleverley, Scholes and Carrick.
But don't expect much more—that's just the way that the January transfer window tends to work in the real world.
What should United do in the January transfer window?
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