Three months to get back to the top may have been a short sighted statement by Louis van Gaal, however, half way into the season it is clearly evident that improvement is slowly, but surely bringing some of the splendour back to the red half of Manchester.
A few key ingredients are still absent from the Red Devils, and the addition of these will surely bring back European nights to Old Trafford.
De Gea the main man
The young Spaniard has been superhuman between the sticks this season, single-handedly saving countless points for the Manchester outfit, and his heroics have attracted the interests of deep pocketed Real Madrid.
Keeping the young shot stopper focused on his duties to his current employers are of vital importance, a player with one foot out the door dreaming of a return home is a liability enough especially if he is your last line of defence.
Defensive General required
Rio Ferdinand, Jaap Stam, Nemanja Vidic; these men were iconic figures of Manchester United defences in recent history. They lead by example, went to battle wholeheartedly for the badge on their hearts, but most of all they were leaders of men capable of marshalling a defence.
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This form of heroic leadership is absent from the current defence; it's return is critical to restoring the glory days at the Theatre of Dreams. Whether a big money transfer is made or a member of the current staff takes up the mantle it needs to happen soon for the old footballing adage hold true; your defence will either win or lose you the title.
Roy Keane was one of the most aggressive and tenacious footballers to grace English football. His total and utter disregard for the well being of his opponents was only matched by his insatiable hunger for winning, a hunger to be the best even if it meant getting up close and personal with the opposition.
Every club needs a man willing to take a card for the team, a natural ball winner. This midfield presence is currently absent at Manchester United. Fellaini and Blind seem capable, but haven't maintained any kind of consistent fitness or form. Like in the defence the conundrum is whether to buy or keep faith with the squad, but it remains to be seen which method Louis chooses.
Wrap them in cotton wool
Manchester United are traditionally plagued by injuries every season, however, this season has been horrendous as if the club scorned a powerful shaman and a hex has been laid upon them. The United faithful can only hope and pray their club's injury fortunes take a turn for the better in the second half of the season.
A large amount of football remains this season and their is plenty of time for United to right the ship and push on for a guaranteed European berth. Late September may welcome back a familiar sight at Old Trafford, the UEFA logo draped across the centre circle.