David Moyes has promised to "try" in the January transfer window.
The inference is that nothing is guaranteed when it comes to signing players, especially in January. It relies on four key parties being on the same page—the two clubs, the player and his agent. And Moyes, especially Moyes, knows that includes a lot of variables.
But even with the prospect that the Manchester United manager might wake up on February 1 empty-handed, the next month is still an important one.
He might not sign the creative midfielder United fans crave or the left-back he clearly feels he needs to replace or at least offer competition to Patrice Evra.
But success for Moyes next month doesn't have to be quantified by the number of new arrivals. Proving that he can handle the pressures of shopping at the top end of the market will be a step in the right direction.
However you look at United's summer business, at best it was disappointing. At worst, it was a catastrophe. There are mitigating circumstances in that it was Moyes' first at United and Ed Woodward's first after his promotion following David Gill's departure.
But if that was an understandable excuse in the summer, it can't be offered up again next month.
Doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results is Albert Einstein's definition of insanity. And it doesn't take a German-born theoretical physicist to see that Moyes and Woodward must learn from their mistakes and do things differently.
That means no public pursuits of targets or dramatic announcements of "urgent transfer business." It means not paying £27.5 million for a player on deadline day who was available for £23.5 million just weeks before.
It means identifying United's problem areas and targeting players who can fit in and improve the squad. It means acting quickly and decisively and selling the club to a player who might also have offers from Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Chelsea.
As manager of United, that is what he is up against. It's a tough task, but along with replacing an irreplaceable and managing big egos on big wages, it's one he signed up for.
There are different definitions of success when it comes to a transfer window. Some measure it in quantity, some in quality. Some United fans want a host of new arrivals, some want one key addition.
But Moyes could do worse than simply aiming to rebuild United's reputation that was damaged ever so slightly in the summer. A reputation of one of the big players in the transfer market, a club who go about their business quietly and efficiently.
After a disappointing summer, that should be considered a success.
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