Manchester United are in a position we had hoped but not expected to be in heading into January.

United currently are five points back from leaders Liverpool with a game in hand against relegation battlers Burnley – and still have to face Jurgen Klopp’s side twice.

Make no mistake, as it stands, United are right in the midst of a title battle.

Now this challenge could fade as quickly as it has suddenly emerged – or it can grow stronger and stronger.

The decisions taken by United’s board in January could have a major bearing on whether the team is able to maintain the challenge, and even go on to win the title.

RONALDO NEEDS TO STOP WHINING.

Leicester City v Manchester United - Premier League
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Show some ambition

Last January, United turned around a very average looking season and ended up finishing third, mainly due to the signing of Bruno Fernandes.

This demonstrated how top players are available mid-season, and the instant impact one can bring.

The previous season under Solskjaer when he was in temporary charge, United did not make a mid-season signing, and fell short of the top four by four points.

The different paths are clear. Do nothing in January and United probably end up as valiant runners-up at best. Progress yes, but second place to Liverpool is nowhere.

Make a key signing to strengthen the squad, and United have a better chance of ending the post-Fergie title drought and denying Liverpool their number 20.

A new signing offers no guarantees, but it shows that the club are trying. Simply bringing in a new face can have a big impact and morale boost.

This is an opportunity United simply have not had under Ed Woodward’s stewardship.

In the previous seven seasons, it has not once felt like United were this close to the top of the table at the mid-season mark.

Bring forward plans

United’s main transfers are typically conducted in the summer. There is a case for the club to try to bring forward some of these plans.

The potential reward of a league title makes it so much more tempting to push the boat out to try and conclude a tough negotiation now.

Manchester United v Leeds United - Premier League
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

United need strengthening in four areas. Centre-back, defensive midfield, right wing, and right-back are all positions in which the team needs reinforcements.

Getting in one top player in one of these positions would give United a big boost now, and also leave less work to do in the summer.

A new signing will not guarantee title success, but it would give the team a better chance. And that is a gamble worth taking.

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