David Moyes has some big calls to make as the January transfer window gets ever closer to closing.
Panic buying is of course not the answer, however business does need to be done, both in and out of Manchester United's squad if they are to resuscitate their chances of reaching the Champions League next season.
Firstly, Mr Moyes needs to assess exactly where the rot is in the squad. He needs to look at players like Ashley Young, who not so long ago was being touted by Martin O'Neill in the same bracket as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Young has had more than enough time to settle in at this level. He is 28-years-old, an age where you'd expect him to be reaching the peak of his powers. Held in comparison with the undoubtedly special Adnan Januzaj, he has been dwarfed.
The concern for me personally has been that, as far as I can see, Young doesn't show anywhere near the sort of hunger and desire to better his performances. He doesn't seem to show clear signs of frustration at his mediocre performances which I feel can be said about too many players at the club.
These are the players that need to be moved on very quickly, not only because of their poor performances but because of the influence their attitudes will have on younger players like Januzaj.
Secondly, Moyes needs to assess where his XI of the future are best suited to playing. Injuries haven't been kind and some selections have more been forced rather than chosen. A young player of the outstanding capability of Phil Jones needs to be getting his game time in the position in which he is most likely to be influential in seasons to come.
Whilst he is a decent footballer with the ball at his feet, he is a true centre-half. He is billed by many in the game to be a future captain of Manchester United and England and compared to greats such as Bobby Moore and Duncan Edwards. He needs to be developing his game at centre-back, alongside either Nemanja Vidic or Rio Ferdinand if he is to fulfill his mighty potential. He is not the answer at holding midfield with Michael Carrick.
Finally, Moyes has to look at what he needs to bring in to take the team forward immediately. United, whilst conceding sloppy goals at the back at times, do NOT need an emergency centre-half. A player like Dante, whilst experienced and performing at a high level at Bayern Munich, is not the answer. With options like Vidic, Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Jones and Chriss Smalling, United shouldn't need to add.
In midfield, there is a lot of mediocrity. Tom Cleverley and Shinji Kagawa have been incredibly inconsistent, Young has been poor, Nani far too wasteful, Darren Fletcher is still on the comeback and Jones has been played out of position.
The return of Marouane Fellaini has the potential to be important. Carrick has been consistent and Antonio Valencia is showing some signs of finding better form. Moyes needs the rest of the midfield to start getting on the same wavelength as those two.
Perhaps United would be better suited using their wing-backs like Patrice Evra and Rafael as their sole wide players if they're insistent on two holding midfielders. This would open up options to bring a player like Januzaj and a possible purchase in Juan Mata in to a more central position behind Wayne Rooney in the number 10 role.
Up front, when fit, there is nobody that can keep Robin van Persie out of the side. Danny Welbeck has upped his goalscoring, but for me has lacked the real predatory skills that strikers for a club of Manchester United's magnitude require.
Javier Hernandez has been a terrific servant for the club but just doesn't fit any more. With the injury concerns that United's forwards do have, Moyes could really do with having a proven goalscorer on the bench, someone in the mould of a David Villa to give them the security that they've lacked while Rooney and Van Persie have been out.
Its a difficult scenario for the club and for a new manager. They're not in a position to rule out the season as a dead dog and put their entire focus on starting afresh next term. How they finish this season is of such vital importance to where they start from and who they start with next year. This is why big changes need to happen now, a place in the Capital One Cup final could well be a catalyst for greater things if the changes come with it.
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