With the season nearing its quarter-mark, each and every club is getting to grips with where its strengths lie and, more importantly, its weaknesses.
Sir Alex Ferguson isn’t renowned for doing business in the winter transfer window, but his Manchester United side may be open to doing a rare bit of business in January during this campaign.
If the Red Devils are to strengthen their squad in the New Year, specific sections of the squad will be targeted in these economically oriented times.
Here, we’ll take a look at precisely which parts of the team are in need of reinforcements and why.
While injuries have in no way helped the defence’s case this season, the centre of defence is arguably the area of Manchester United’s squad in the greatest state of transition right now.
Rio Ferdinand has never been the least injury-prone of players, and the jury is still out on whether or not Nemanja Vidic will ever return to his best form after suffering a season-ending knee twist in the last campaign.
With Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans all looked upon as the next generation of central defenders at Old Trafford, one might be forgiven for thinking that section of the back line was in safe hands.
However, there is an argument to be had that the aforementioned trio, which holds an average age of just 22 years, is far too inexperienced to uphold the United standard if Ferdinand and Vidic were ever absent for a prolonged amount of time.
Metro has reported in recent weeks that Sir Alex Ferguson is looking at Fulham centre-back Brede Hangeland as a temporary solution to his flailing defence and could make a move for the Norwegian in January.
Regardless of whether or not the rumours are true, it’s hard to argue against the fact that the Red Devils aren’t looking as strong at the back as they have in previous seasons and need to correct that as soon as possible.
Although there are parts of the Manchester United roster that may be weak due to their undermanned appearance, the centre of midfield is strange in that it’s overflowing with players but lacks that distinct superstar quality.
In reality, Sir Alex Ferguson could field any two, or perhaps even three, out of Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick, Anderson, Darren Fletcher, Tom Cleverley or Nick Powell right in the core of his midfield.
That being said, a certain pedigree of midfield enforcer fails to stand out as the leader of the bunch, and the Red Devils will be left wanting if they don’t have a replacement ready for when Scholes finally calls it a day on his career.
The fact that Manchester United are currently relying on a 37-year-old to come out of retirement and add a certain steel tells us that the other central candidates aren’t perhaps ready for Ferguson’s standard.
Jamie Jackson of The Guardian points out the significant void that exists in the United engine room, and the club could be tempted into buying over the winter period if they wish to add that much-needed girth where it’s arguably required most.
With Nani having been supposedly close to an exit from the club during the summer (via Metro), one wouldn’t be crazy to suppose that the Portuguese international could be a candidate to leave Manchester United in 2013.
However, even with the winger within their ranks, Sir Alex Ferguson is still slightly undermanned out wide.
The Red Devils have Nani, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young as natural wingers, while Ryan Giggs can also do a job on the flanks if required.
In recent times, players such as Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck have been called upon to play out wide, while summer arrival Shinji Kagawa is also capable in the role.
With all options taken into account, three natural wide-men isn’t really the ideal amount for a team challenging for title honours, nevermind a European crown.
To stop the team having to force strikers into playing out of their preferred positions, January recruitment could well be the ideal scenario for Ferguson.