Under the tutelage of new manager David Moyes, Manchester United appeared to endure a truly torrid time during the summer transfer window.
While the Scot clearly had several high-profile targets in mind, he was ultimately unsuccessful in his attempts to significantly bolster a squad who quite curiously are not considered to be one the club's strongest despite the ease with which they strolled to the Premier League title in Sir Alex Ferguson's final campaign in charge.
Although many fans may suggest that it was evident - and remains as such - that United were crying out for significant creative reinforcements in the middle of midfield, Moyes spent much of the summer embroiled in a complicated, protracted and ultimately fruitless saga involving Everton left-back Leighton Baines.
While United were successful in convincing combative Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini to eventually depart Goodison Park to reunite with Moyes on deadline day, the Toffees remained admirably firm on Baines and outrightly refused to be persuaded to part with arguably their most prize asset.
With the ageing Patrice Evra's long-term future uncertain, speculation has continued to mount that Moyes will seek to address the issue once and for all by ensuring that he is able to complete a deal for the Frenchman's successor when the window re-opens in the new year.
While still being persistently linked with another move for Baines, other reports have speculated that Moyes retains a keen interest in 18-year-old Luke Shaw - a player who has drawn plaudits for a series of excellent displays for Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton outfit this season.
It is my unwavering belief that United should totally abandon their costly and frankly tedious pursuit of Baines and instead focus all of their attention on ensuring they are able to secure the phenomenal young talent that is Shaw.
I am certainly not attempting to downplay Baines' unquestionable abilities, nor am I even suggesting that the England man could not significantly improve United's increasingly frail frontline.
However, having had a total of three bids already rejected for the 28-year-old, United must be aware of Everton's total and utter reluctance to sell Baines and they risk exposing themselves to ridicule if they persist with yet more wasted efforts in January.
In order to successfully acquire Baines, United would surely have to offer an astronomical sum to convince Roberto Martinez and co that they were being sufficiently financially reimbursed for their loss. Such an extravagant figure would surely not be worth it as, despite his consistently impressive form, Baines is approaching his 30s and may not have too many seasons left at the elite level.
In truth, Shaw's burgeoning reputation and rapid rise to prominence means he will also command a hugely inflated fee far above his ordinary market value.
Yet, while Shaw certainly cannot boast to rival Baines for consistency at top-flight level, he surely offers far more value for money given that it could be a full decade before he truly hits his peak in the Premier League. During which time, bar the emergence of a similarly talented defensive prodigy, he should also have comfortably established himself as the Three Lions' first-choice left-back with the talented duo of Baines and Ashley Cole out of the picture.
In a necessary bid to restore his rapidly diminishing reputation, Moyes must seek to cure his ailing squad with a number of quality signings during the winter window.
And, while there are other areas of his squad that would appear to require more immediate attention in the short-term, if Moyes is insistent on signing a new left-back in January then he should abandon his unrealistic and tiresome pursuit of Baines - as well as forgetting about Real Madrid's Fabio Coentrao - and go all out for Shaw.
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