Things have not gone according to plan for David Moyes at Manchester United.
The team is currently seventh on the Premier League table (11 points behind Arsenal), is already out of the FA Cup and desperately needs to make a transfer splash in the next month after failing to add any big names outside of Marouane Fellaini over the summer.
Unfortunately for United supporters, Moyes already seems to be prepping them for a disappointing January, according to Alistair Magowan of BBC Sport:
Manchester United boss David Moyes says he may struggle to strengthen his squad in January because there are not many suitable players available to sign in the mid-season transfer window.
He said a lack of new faces would "not be because we don't want to do it".
"We would like to bring people in but are those players available?" he added.
"There is an urgency but there's no point in me hyping it up because the players we would like to bring in are probably not available in January."
It's no secret that United need a crafty, well-rounded midfielder capable of unlocking opposing defenses. The club is vulnerable in the center of the pitch, especially against teams that are stronger in the midfield such as Arsenal and Manchester City.
How desperate should United be to add a midfielder?
At WhoScored.com, Michael Carrick has earned an average match rating of 7.06, sixth best on the team. He's been quite good. But after him, Tom Cleverley is the team's highest-ranked central midfielder, with an average match rating of 6.88. That ranks him 15th among United players.
Quite simply, that isn't good enough.
Thiago Alcantara would have been the perfect addition, but he, of course, chose to sign with Bayern Munich over the summer. A player such as Juan Mata would certainly give this team an incisive passer and playmaker, though Mata isn't exactly a box-to-box midfielder and Chelsea almost assuredly wouldn't sell him to a Premier League rival.
According to Miguel Delaney of ESPN, United have shown an interest in Southampton’s Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw, Yohan Cabaye of Newcastle—who would make a ton of sense for the club—Koke of Atletico Madrid, Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala and, of course, Moyes' former player at Everton, Leighton Baines.
Cabaye could be an excellent addition. After Arsenal sniffed around the Newcastle midfielder over the summer, he likely got the itch to try his hand at a bigger club, and he would instantly be inserted into United's midfield rotation (and likely earn a starting gig unless Fellaini really comes on strong when he returns from injury).
That may not happen, but something during this transfer period almost assuredly must happen for United supporters to be satisfied. Unless this team wins the Champions League—and that seems highly unlikely—they will find themselves in a very real struggle to finish in the top four.
Just try to imagine United in the Europa League, or worse, in no European club competition at all. Bizarre, right? Moyes can try to manage expectations for the January window all he likes, but the truth is he needs to improve this team before the start of February.
And everyone knows it.