manutd.com

Current position: 2nd

Money: £20 million

On the face of it, domestically at least, Manchester United have made an extremely solid start to the season. A run of 10 wins, three draws and a single loss from 14 games is hardly crisis form. It’s only neighbours City’s immaculate form that has left them trailing in the Premier League by five points.

Unfortunately the cup competitions are another story entirely. Dumped out of the Carling Cup at home to Crystal Palace, while failing to make the knockout stages of the Champions League is not good enough for a club the size of United. But the season moves on and investment in the team is clearly needed.

Despite skipper Nemanja Vidic being ruled out for the season with knee damage, the emergence of Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling leaves Sir Alex Ferguson with options in central defence. The midfield, is another story. The lack of a playmaker in the middle of the park is evident, the club deployed Ji Sung Park in the role against Basel and with the best will in the world, he will not thread through the kind of passes Wayne Rooney needs.

Ryan Giggs’ legs are finally catching up with him while Darren Fletcher will continue to perform a solid, but unspectacular role in central midfield. Anderson has failed to live up to early promise and is now injured while Darron Gibson is nowhere near the first-team picture.

Wesley Sneijder and Bastian Schweinsteiger seem out of reach but Javi Martinez of Athletic Bilbao is said to be a realistic option. It would also be interesting to see whether the club would be prepared to break the bank for Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric. If one of the four players above arrived at Old Trafford, better times could be ahead. Despite the criticism, there is not much wrong with the current United side, when the squad is fully-fit that is, but there is one massive Paul Scholes shape hole in the team, and it desperately needs to be filled.

End of season prediction: 2nd

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