Sometimes you have to strike at the opportune moment. And Manchester United have already missed an opportunity.

The 3-1 defeat at City puts United halfway to semi-final elimination. A transfer market opportunity has already been missed.

Entering the transfer window, United had the chance to market the club to potential signings as a club ‘going places’.

Into one semi-final, United were just one step from Wembley. It was a great chance to clinch silverware.

United could have used this to help attract potential signings to Old Trafford. Now some of the positivity around the club has gone, after a winless start to 2020.

The Solskjaer Cinderella carriage risks turning back into a pumpkin.

As we noted in December, United’s transfer strategy for this month appeared to be ‘Haaland or bust’. We got the latter. United have entered the window with no plan.

(Photo by Sam Bagnall – AMA/Getty Images)

Scared to get it wrong

The line Ole Gunnar Solskjaer keeps wheeling out about potential signings is that the player has to be right for the club.

That is to some degree understandable, but like a team which tries to score a perfect goal, sometimes you have to abandon that principled approach and go ‘route one’.

United’s squad is in a desperate state in midfield due to injuries. United can’t afford to be too picky.

We are not saying just ‘get anyone’ in, but there are players at clubs in the relegation zone who would improve this United squad, see Todd Cantwell or Emiliano Buendia at Norwich, or Abdoulaye Doucoure at Watford.

 

These are just examples, to highlight how weak United’s squad is. The team could benefit from additional help.

It is clear the likes of Jadon Sancho or James Maddison are not coming this month. So United need to take a gamble.

(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

You could find 50-60 players in France, Germany or Italy who would be upgrades on Andreas Pereira as a central midfielder. So why not just take a plunge on one?

The Times reported that before signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka, United had a 804 potential right-backs identified, whittled down to 60, and then 10. It was extensive work, and a sign United are trying to be perfect in the market.

This is commendable, but it is also January. United need to take a gamble, look at who is available, who has a release clause, and pay the money.

It could be a wrong move. It could be inspired. But the one thing United can’t afford to be is scared, and that’s how it comes across.

Take a gamble, take two. Take three shots at signing players if you want to hedge our bets, just do something.

Links via ESPN which emerged this morning claiming United are keen on Donny van de Beek are a step in the right direction. We’ll see if it materialises further.

Injuries to key players and no midfielders signed in the summer means this squad desperately needs help, and if United are paralysed by fear of getting it wrong, inaction will be even more harmful.

The perfect player might never be available, and when he is, who is to say he will choose United right now?

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