David Moyes has suggested Nemanja Vidic and Danny Welbeck are among the Manchester United players who must fight harder to earn their place in the Premier League champions' lineup.
The Old Trafford boss confirmed Vidic is ready to re-enter the first-team picture after missing two matches with a head injury sustained against Newcastle. However, he warned the defender he shouldn't expect to waltz straight back into a side that has kept two consecutive clean sheets without him, per Simon Stone of the Daily Mail:
Nemanja is just about ready to play now.
But we have five centre-halves. We can use Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Rio Ferdinand and him.
There is competition for places there and you are going to have to play well to stay in the team.
Welbeck was also the topic of discussion in the lead-up to United's Capital One Cup quarter-final clash with Stoke.
The Englishman doubled his goal tally to four this season after netting a brace in the 3-0 Premier League win over Aston Villa, but Moyes wants the 23-year-old to mimic the training ethic of Wayne Rooney to improve his game and secure a consistent place in the first team, per Chris Wheeler of the Daily Mail:
Wayne’s out there practising his finishing each day, whether it’s taking free-kicks, shooting from tight angles or bending them in. Whatever it may be, Wayne’s practising and I said, "Danny, you need to be out there every day finishing, even if it’s 15 minutes at the end". He took heed and he’s out there.
Moyes is widely expected to strengthen his struggling squad in January, especially as he has money to spend, per the club's official website.
With Vidic's constant injury troubles and Rio Ferdinand slowing down at the age of 35, the Scot needs to outline fresh talent at centre-back, while United's labouring midfield also requires an injection of quality.
A creative influence is needed alongside the likes of Tom Cleverley, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick in midfield, as discussed by David Lynch of the Manchester Evening News after United's loss to Cardiff:
[T]he need for a creative midfielder has never been clearer than during Michael Carrick's injury absence. The Reds must act in the January transfer window to bring inspiration to the centre of the park, or they face picking up more results of this ilk.
January will undoubtedly be an important month in the reign of Moyes. The former Everton boss has the funds to build his own team, but he'll need to spend wisely if the Red Devils are going to compete with the excellent squads of competitors such as Chelsea and Manchester City.
Should Moyes fail to deliver on world-class targets—much like he did during his summer inability to land Cesc Fabregas, Ander Herrera and Sami Khedira, per David McDonnell of the Mirror—it's likely hordes of impatient fans will call for his head if United fail to put a run of form together.
With players such as Vidic and Welbeck working hard to maintain their first-team presence, the second half to Moyes' opening season simply has to herald a greater return than the seven wins in 16 Premier League games he has posted so far.