It is said that United have £80 million to spend and no one to buy.
Here's a quartet of top stars who have already proved their worth in the Premiership and who would fit right into United's pattern of play. At a stroke, they would transform the post-Ronaldo gloom into optimism and make United a dead cert to win a fourth successive title.
There is a high football theory that the best teams have the best fullbacks and the best fullbacks come in pairs. Barcelona's Alves has been redefining the role of the fullback for years, ably assisted by his counterpart Eric Abidal.
United should look to emulate this model. Patrice Evra, in the form of two years ago, is a decent option at left back but the jury is still out on teenager Rafael, the Brazilian who made the right back slot his own last year.
With a difficult sophomore season ahead, Sir Alex might have no choice but to look to the aging Gary Neville, the crock Wesley Brown and the limited John O'Shea.
There would be fewer regrets if the manager could call on the services of Bacary Sagna. Whilst Liverpool's Glen Johnson won all the plaudits last season for his exploits in Portsmouth's defence, Sagna has been arguably the Premiership's top right back since his move to Arsenal from Auxerre in 2007.
He struggled a little last term and wasn't helped by injuries but on his day, Sagna is an economical, non-flashy, effective defender who locks down the right flank and is competent when supporting the Gunners' attack. What a player Sagna would be if he looked like he could score!
Availability : 2/5
A few eyebrows were raised when Arsenal moved for Arshavin. The Zenith St Petersburg player had been outstanding for Russia at the Euro 2008 tournament but at 27, he seemed a little too old for the 'youth obsessed' Gunners manager Arsene Wenger.
He looked like a homer too, having spent his entire career in the Russian league. Did that suggest a lack of ambition or a weakness of character? Maybe, he would be another eastern European star who did not travel well.
Fast forward six months and Arshavin has extinguished those doubts, emerging as Arsenal's key player and a superb creative force.
Arshavin's four-goal smack down of Liverpool last April was the outstanding individual performance of the season. Look at those goals and marvel again at the balance, the control, the accuracy and the authority of a top, top player.
The two-footed, sharp shooter with thunder in his boots—is he a midfilder or a forward—will be an even greater sensation this time around, if he can maintain his form after more than a year of non-stop football.
Ronaldo out. Arshavin in. Lovely!
Speculation is hardening that United may be about to bid for the player and with the bookies offering short odds, it may be more than newspaper talk.
Young enjoyed an excellent first half to the season as Aston Villa threatened to crash the Big Four party at the top of the Premiership, confirming the progress made since a £9.5 million transfer from Watford.
The winger's form fell away somewhat as his team ran out of gas at the business end of the campaign but Young showed enough talent to suggest that raw pace is not all that he has in his locker. There is nerve, trickery, wing craft and goals too.
United need some invention and an injection of pace along the left flank and Young might be the answer. Certainly, no good will come from persisting with Park.
Villa are reluctant to sell the 24-year-old for anything less than £30 million. There is room for negotiation because Young is not yet that good. United could get him for less with a player plus cash deal. It would be a shrewd investment.
OK, no one likes him at the Emirates and he is bound for Eastlands but not so long ago, the Togo striker was the toast of north London and coveted across Europe for his athleticism and eye for goals.
Adebayor looks like he's being advised by Nicolas Anelka and seems to have all the dressing room charm of Craig Bellamy. There are also concerns about attitude problems too. This is hardly the right stuff for a United player!
But when Adebayor is focused and on form, he is a devastating, new style forward of considerable talent.
No less a judge than Emperor Rio Ferdinand rates the 25 year old as his most difficult domestic opponent and it is easy to see why. Adebayor is not the Drogba default, classic, powerhouse African frontman and yet is a physical handful for any defender. He's reasonably quick and can operate effectively in the penalty box or when spinning off the centre-half into the channels.
Adebayor can also lead the attack alone, a crucial attribute for player and team alike. Fans weened on 4-4-2 may not like the system which has a single front man but it's the formation pursued by most teams that challenge for silverware in Europe. With Torres out of reach and Drogba now too old, Adebayor is the next best available option.
The 30 goals Adebayor registered for Arsenal's great but fragile 2007-08 team was no mean achievement and it is strange that City are the only club to have converted interest into a serious bid.
The newspapers say he was offered to United but with his weekly wage demands said to be as much as £170k, United were never going to agree.
It's a shame that Adebayor has priced himself out of a move to Old Trafford because he would have been a good signing for the club even at £23 million. If anyone can get him going again, it is Sir Alex.
Price: £23 m