Manchester United's FA Cup exit at the hands of Swansea City on Sunday, Jan. 5, was another clear sign that things aren't as they once were at Old Trafford, with David Moyes admitting that his squad is lacking in quality stars.
The 2-1 loss to Michael Laudrup's side was the Red Devils' fifth home defeat of the season, and was the second time in the campaign that Moyes' men have lost back-to-back matches at Old Trafford following the 2-1 setback to Tottenham on New Year's Day.
There is an urgency that we want to sign players but are the ones we want available in January?
I have said before that I will try to bring players in this month. But it is doubtful because of the way the window works. There is no point me hyping it up, because the ones we want are probably not going to be available. It is that, rather than us not wanting to do it.
Certainly we shouldn’t be too reliant on Rooney and Van Persie.
Sir Alex Ferguson regularly voiced his doubts over value being available during the January transfer window, admitting on numerous occasions that he would only spend if the right deals were available. His last comments on the topic came in 2012, per Sky Sports.
That being said, it was only last week that The Guardian's Jamie Jackson reported Moyes giving a more hopeful view of the winter window:
Moyes: 'I do feel market at present time might be better suited to transfers in the summer' though Jan remains an option, he also says— jamie jackson (@GuardianJamieJ) January 1, 2014
This season has seen drastic change take place at United, and Moyes' arrival as helmsman has, in hindsight, inevitably coincided with a drop in standards within the squad.
Wilfried Zaha's £10 million move from Crystal Palace hasn't brought about the immediate impact that some may have expected, while Marouane Fellaini, the club's only big-money purchase of the summer period, has struggled for form.
The New York Times' Graham Ruthven states that it is no surprise to see Moyes taking his time over transfers, however:
@SBienkowski I'm not convinced. EFC fans I know (I do actually know a few, strangely) complained for years of Moyes dithering with transfers— Graham Ruthven (@grahamruthven) July 20, 2013
The great cause for concern at United right now—more so than their transfer struggles—is the fact that longer-standing staples at Old Trafford are falling below their normal standards.
Ashley Young, Nani, Antonio Valencia and even more reliable stars such as Robin van Persie have failed to produce their best form this term, partially due to injury on the part of the Dutchman.
Moyes addressed the psychological changes that were once again evident in his team during the Swansea defeat, adding, per Edwards' report:
We put out a really strong team, full of internationals, and it should have been enough to get us through. There are no excuses. Everyone is getting an opportunity to show what they can do, so I will make decisions from the evidence of that.
We need to find a solution to winning games, no matter how. It doesn’t matter what style.
We simply have to find a way of winning. I actually thought we played quite well in the first half, but we should have created more chances and made more of those we did create.
Moyes now faces a month ahead where recruitment will be critical to his club's hopes of salvaging any success.
United are in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup and are undefeated in the Champions League, but need to rescue form on the Premier League front after going through their worst start to a season for 24 years.
One of the most obvious ways to go about fixing that is through the January market, but it's far from a simple matter in Moyes' view.
You can follow me on Twitter: