Things are beginning to look better at Old Trafford, Manchester United find themselves on a run of six wins in a row which culminated in a 3-0 victory over Liverpool.
“I think we have to believe that we can win the title,” said Wayne Rooney after the Liverpool win. “We are eight points behind and coming into a busy period. If we can win our games and the others have one bad result then there’s nothing in it.”
Rooney may be getting carried away but United sit third in the Premier League and Louis van Gaal has money to spend on new players. But can he sign the right players to give them a final boost?
After a shaky start United have kept three clean sheets in their winning run, although David de Gea is arguably the only reason for this with his man-of-the-match performances in several games this season.
The return of Phil Jones and Jonny Evans will provide a boost but Diego Godin or Mats Hummels could shore up a defence that has been decimated by injury. Marcos Rojo is the only defender in the squad to have managed 10 appearances in the Premier League and Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair are yet to look fully comfortable in the starting XI.
Godin however has ruled out a move to Old Trafford and reiterated his commitment to Atletico Madrid. The centre-back would provide some much needed experience but the Spanish side are unlikely to let him go cheaply and at 28-years-old he would be too expensive.
Similarly, the signing of Mats Hummels, while arguably a better centre-back than anyone currently on United’s books, would prove to be problematic with a summer move more likely.
Borussia Dortmund have had a torrid time so far this season with the club 16th in the Bundesliga, 27 points adrift of Bayern Munich. After this weekend’s 1-0 loss away to Hertha Berlin Hummels was the only player to not walk over to the away fans and instead went straight to the changing rooms. A sign, perhaps.
The emergence of Marouane Fellaini as this season’s surprise package has also calmed transfer rumours about Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman.
The Dutchman has just returned from a knee injury but Fellaini has found his place under Van Gaal and a £30m bid for Strootman may wait until the summer, especially as negotiations with the Italian side will more than likely be a long and drawn out process.
The only player that United can realistically sign in January will be Bayern Munich’s Xherdan Shaqiri who is looking for a knight in shining armour to rescue him from his Bavarian nightmare.
The Swiss winger has started just three games this season and has been heavily linked with a move to the Premier League. Despite a good run of form last season Shaqiri has been unable to dislodge Arjen Robben on the wing and Die Bayern are unlikely to put up much resistance should a bid come in for the 23-year-old.
Conveniently for United the most available player they’ve been linked with is one that they need the most. Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia have both performed reasonably well despite being played out of position, however Van Gaal’s switch to a 4-4-2 formation exposed United’s weak attack on the wings, something that Shaqiri could solve.