Manchester United are on their knees, shuffling their way to the next transfer window, whilst their rivals are running in to the distance.
At least, that's how it seems after David Moyes failed to bring in anyone of significance in the summer transfer window despite his best efforts.
Marouane Fellaini was signed for a significant sum of money, but considering Moyes had just moved from Fellaini's club Everton, the deal came as no surprise.
Manchester United's fans needed reassurance that everything was going to be OK post-Sir Alex Ferguson. In the form of a marquee signing in the summer, those fears would have been muted.
Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Alcantara would have fit the bill but neither were willing to take the risk of playing under a manager unproven at the top level.
Thiago left Barcelona for Bayern Munich to work under his mentor Pep Guardiola whilst Fabregas decided to stay at his boyhood club Barcelona.
On the face of it, these were silly targets to go for. Unrealistic even. Maybe they should have gone for someone easier to convince. Then maybe they would have got that key addition they were looking for.
But they did. His name was Anders Herrera and, if reports are believed, Manchester United were so inept in the transfer negotiations with Atletico Bilbao that the deal had to be called off.
Moyes wasted so much time declaring his interest for players he had no chance of signing and simply ran out of time.
The transfer window closed. The squad pretty much the same as last year, whilst their title rivals looked on at their shiny new signings.
Now United fans' worst fears have been realised - by failing to strengthen, they have weakened significantly. It goes without saying that standing still is just as good as moving backwards in the competitive environment of the Premier League.
It seems that the Fergie-factor does exist - at least it did exist. Despite losing no one of significance in the summer and having a fully fit squad, Manchester United are languishing in eighth, eight points behind leaders Arsenal.
They are dragging their feet towards the January transfer window where fresh faces are badly needed to strengthen the side and increase the morale inside Old Trafford.
If Moyes again fails to bring in at least one big player, the muffling noise that Moyes is simply not big enough to fill Ferguson's shoes will only grow louder and clearer.
An inspirational signing is needed to ensure Manchester United finish in the top four, which is far from certain considering the quality of the opposition in this season's Premier League.
Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham all used the transfer window to try to close the gap on last season's rampant Manchester United. But the Red Devils' failure to secure big signings themselves closed it on their rivals behalf.
The first 10 games of the season have shown that their rivals are well ahead in terms of quality and depth. Now Manchester United risk being left behind completely if they fail to secure a big signing in the next transfer window.
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