Before a ball was even kicked this season, Manchester United were condemned to midtable mediocrity by many neutral fans.

That wave of pessimism was followed by a surge of over-the-top positivity, as loyal fans of the club bit back and defended their new manager with gusto and pride.

It left us precisely where we started: unable to effectively decipher how the Red Devils would fare this season performance-wise, what David Moyes’ plans were and where they would end up.

Predictions ranged from first place (champions) to eighth, well out of the Champions League range; those baying for Manchester United’s doom were then delighted to see the club royally screw up the summer transfer window.

We’ve reached the halfway point in the Premier League season and Moyes’ men lie in seventh place—11 points off first, five points off fourth.

They’ve lost six games already, with an unthinkable four of those coming at home against Tottenham, Everton, West Brom and Newcastle. If United retain the same form over the rest of the season, they’ll tally up an incredible 12 losses for the 2013-14 campaign.

Can United seriously finish in the top four if they continue in this fashion? The simple answer is NO.

Where the Red Devils are almost entirely reliant on Wayne Rooney dragging them through the mud—a point proven by the side’s losses to Everton (first bad game) and Newcastle (suspended)—title rivals have multiple outlets to look to.

Man for man, quality-wise, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea are better than United; Spurs, Everton and even Southampton look about on par at this time.

Manuel Pellegrini’s charges have scored 57 goals (24 more than United) in the Premier League so far, sharing the goalscoring load and destroying team after team.

Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Tom Cleverley are not players a title-winning side can rely upon to carry them through, and Robin van Persie’s continued absence is a serious worry.

It brings us back to a truth United fans have known for a few years now: the squad simply isn’t of title-winning calibre, and it was merely the “Fergie factor” that kept them competitive and victorious for so many years.

With Sir Alex gone, the question “will we win the title or fall just short?” has been replaced by “will we even make the top four?” and the answer lies in Moyes’ actions during the January transfer window.

It’s not the ideal time to making seismic changes to your squad. In fact, there is no worse time. But it’s needs-must for the Red Devils, and the hierarchy will be acutely aware of the need for significant investment this month.

That doesn’t make it OK to go and spend £50 million on Ross Barkley, but they do need to look for impact performers of the same ilk.

That means avoiding potential mistakes such as Ander Herrera and plugging for more top-weight prospects of the calibre Cesc Fabregas carries—although it’s pointless targeting him specifically again.


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