Patience key for United during January window

Posted by Mark Payne

Michael Regan/Getty ImagesManchester United fans are hoping that Chief Executive Ed Woodward exercises caution during the January transfer window.

Manchester United have a few problems at the moment. There are not quite enough points on the board in the Premier League, and there were parts of the start of the season that resembled the awkward moment at a wedding when everybody has been introduced but no-one has anything to say. That doesn't mean things are going to end dreadfully though, this could still be a successful season.

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United manager David Moyes and Chief Executive Ed Woodward have both been scarred by the recent transfer window. There will be a temptation to venture onto that dance floor once again come January, manfully clutching a fat transfer fee and pulling the moves next to some of Europe's finest.

What United desperately need is an extrovert. Somebody to tell an inappropriate joke or say something personal to make all the others relax. As things stand, United have several players lining up next to the number ten shirt like single men waiting to chat up the only available girl at the reception.

Shinji Kagawa, Wayne Rooney and Adnan Januzaj have all used a few smooth lines this season already. Marouane Fellaini is brooding over by the Old Trafford buffet, sure that he could do better than all of them if he was given the chance.

Moyes and Woodward sit at the top table like an over eager best man and maid of honour, trying to think up ways to make the party swing. "Let's sign Marco Reus from Borussia Dortmund", pipes up Edwina Woodward, full of enthusiasm. But it wouldn't be a good idea.

Another of Ed's bright ideas, widely reported this week, is the purchase of Andres Iniesta from Barcelona. Iniesta is a terrific player, but he is about as likely to come to Manchester as 300 days of sunshine a year and the Malibu beach head.

The definition of insanity, according to Einstein, is to keep making the same mistake and hope for different results. But the temptation is always there. Perhaps there is a desire to put right what once went wrong, mixed in with nostalgia for the original idea that keeps us pursuing dead ends. But when faced with a problem, repeating the behaviour is not the panacea; changing one's approach is much more likely to pay dividends.

Two years ago, United purchased an excellent attack-minded player from Borussia Dortmund and have underutilized him. The solution to this problem is not to buy another excellent attack-minded player from Borussia Dortmund.

Manchester United's attacking conundrum is not really a problem anyway. If anything, it is an embarrassment of riches. Their main problems lie further back, where there is no recognised interceptor and a defence that is a mixture of the inexperienced and the elderly.

Yet there persists the idea that United could line up with Rooney, Kagawa and Januzaj all in the same side. While they certainly can, and indeed have, Rooney's form is of such stupendous a level that Kagawa is shunted to the left. The former Dortmund man is like a novelty hat that is being worn slightly inappropriately, even if it is a very nice hat. He deserves better.

There was evidence that things are coming together against Arsenal. Rooney and Phil Jones put in excellent performances and the team as a whole stuck to a game plan that was successful. The result has put confidence back into the club and restored faith that everything is on the right path.

There remain issues with United's squad, starting eleven and league position. But the way to tackle these is not to throw away money when the tills start ringing again on January 1st.

Although this might not be the finest Manchester United squad in the history of the club, it is still of a very high standard. Rather than the upheaval that a raft of new transfers would bring, what is required is patience for the new manager and his methodology to take hold.

Mark Payne is the author of 'Fergie's Last Stand', available on Amazon kindle.

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