As this season begun, one of the primary concerns was whether Manchester United had the necessary squad depth to compete.

As injuries struck, United were exposed early on, with Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial all going down injured.

In Shaw’s case, an opportunity was created for Brandon Williams to step up. This was the exception rather than the rule.

In a season which has involved as many as 47 games in all competitions so far, United were stretched.

(Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Playing twice a week, often Thursdays and Sundays, put a strain on both availability and quality.

As United plan for the future, adding more quality squad depth is key to the team’s success.

Look beyond first XI

A common concern when United are linked with a player is the question of where he will fit in, and what it will mean for others.

Take Jack Grealish for instance.Would he get into United’s first choice XI if available now? Probably not, but that does mean he is not worth buying.

Grealish could expect to play 40 plus games a season for United if he signs.

Look at the number of games played so far by Andreas Pereira (37) and Jesse Lingard (35). It’s too much.

 

These are the players United should upgrade on and replace.

It’s not about bringing in Grealish to replace Fred or Paul Pogba, it’s about improving on fringe players.

Ighalo is an example

When a striker is linked, it’s easy to ask what this may mean for Anthony Martial or Mason Greenwood. It shouldn’t be negative.

A new player will come in to raise standards, raise competition and add depth. Odion Ighalo showed how this can work.

(Photo by Andrew Kearns – CameraSport via Getty Images)

While he is older and happier to be a squad player than a younger striker might, new faces will understand they are part of an attacking unit working together, who will all get chances.

The Treble in 1999, a masterful demonstration of squad depth and competing on all fronts, showed the need for four strikers.

Last summer Solskjaer was too complacent about the players at United’s disposal. He knows now that some of them can’t deliver.

This summer we should look to improve our options, beyond just the first XI. If we can do that, we will get a lot closer to mounting a title challenge.

The Premier League is where consistency shows, and this season an insufficient squad has led to inconsistent results.

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