When Manchester United sacked manager Jose Mourinho with less than fortnight to go before the January transfer window, it seemed clear that Ed Woodward’s chequebook would have come out in the mid-season market.
Despite spending nearly £400m on eleven players during Mourinho’s two-and-half years at the club, with seventeen games of this season played the Red Devils sat in 6th place in the Premier League, their 26-point tally placing them closer to the relegation zone than to league leaders Liverpool, who had just beaten their bitter rivals 3-1 the previous Sunday.
Bookmaker odds on United finishing in the top four – let alone challenging for the title – were slim at that stage, and surgery was surely needed on the squad as soon as possible. But fast forward to mid-January, five Premier League games and an FA Cup tie later, and all of a sudden Manchester United look a picture of health.
Caretaker manager and former United playing legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has transformed affairs on the pitch, with the shackles of Mourinho’s defensive regime released and United largely playing free-flowing, attacking football that in the process has delivered five consecutive league wins (six in all competitions including the FA Cup win over Reading).
United remain in 6th in the Premier League, but after last Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Spurs at Wembley they are only six points off fourth placed Chelsea. Bookmakers across no deposit free bet required betting sites are now offering much shorter prices of around 7/4 of United finishing in the top four.
So do United really need to strengthen in this window?
Given that both Chelsea and Arsenal also have to visit Manchester City in February, with United’s favourable run of fixtures coming up you’d be crazy to bet against them claiming a Champions League spot come May.
With Tottenham losing Harry Kane to injury and Son to the Asia Cup, they have seen their odds drop from 2/1 to finish in the top for to 6/4 with bookmaker Ladbrokes, so maybe United can even overhaul Spurs in third.
The January transfer window has long been an inflated market, with clubs placing huge ransoms on their most coveted players. It might not be in United’s nature to stick and not twist and you certainly can never rest on your laurels, but with the recent upturn in fortunes at Old Trafford and the possibility for the current squad to finish this season with a flourish, it wouldn’t make business sense for United to buy right now. Unless the right player is available at the right price, leave all business until the summer.
A few weeks ago, a central defender and a holding midfielder were identified as must buys for January, but already half-way through the window, it doesn’t seem as though that necessarily has to be the case.