Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has revealed his late attempts to sign a forward in January were rejected by the club’s board, leaving them short of striking options in the second half of the season.
United allowed Anthony Martial to join Sevilla on loan in January before Mason Greenwood was suspended indefinitely by the club with just three days left of the transfer window.
Rangnick was hoping United might act quickly to bolster the squad before deadline day and mentioned Liverpool forward Luis Diaz, who has been a revelation since arriving from Porto on January 30, as one of the potential solutions along with Dusan Vlahovic, signed by Juventus, and Julian Alvarez, who will join Manchester City this summer.
Instead United failed to act and have been almost entirely reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo as a source of goals, with injury limiting Edinson Cavani to just six appearances this year.
Rangnick's side have scored just 13 in their last 10 league matches, nine of them from Ronaldo.
- Transfer Centre LIVE! | Man Utd transfer rumours
- Stream Brighton vs Man Utd with a NOW pass
- Get Sky Sports | Download the Sky Sports app
"The answer at the time was no there was no player on the market that could really help us - there were a few, Diaz who is now at Liverpool, Alvarez who will be at Manchester City in the summer, Vlahovic who at the time still was with Fiorentina those are just three of them that come across my mind now," said Rangnick.
"We had four days off at the time and on the Sunday I was informed about the issues with Mason Greenwood and obviously Anthony Martial had already left and then I was aware that within four days we had some strikers missing and it might make sense, we were still in three competitions - Champions League, FA Cup and fourth in the league but that's the past and it doesn't help us anymore.
"I spoke to the board and said shouldn't we at least speak and try and analyse if we could get a player either on loan or as a permanent deal but in the end the answer was no.
"I still believe that we should have at least tried, if we would've found and been able in 48 hours, 48 hours is short notice but it's still 48 hours, it might have been worth to try and internally discuss but we didn't and it was not done."
Rangnick: The good thing is everyone realises how big our problems are
There is a feeling within United that the club were faced with a dilemma in January, whether to allow Rangnick to make a signing that his successor may not want or whether to preserve their resources and support a new manager in the summer - with Erik Ten Hag now appointed.
United have also been stung by rushed recruitment and unsuccessful deals late in the window in previous seasons, with Alexis Sanchez being the most high-profile example in 2018.
But Rangnick has already stated Ten Hag will need to improve all areas of the squad aside from the goalkeepers and once again emphasised the size of the task ahead if they are to challenge for the league title once again.
"If there is a good thing about the poor season we had so far it is that everybody now should be aware how big and where the problems are and what needs to be done to raise the level again and to be a serious title contender again - and this is what it's all about - to me it's obvious what needs to be done, this is what is most important," said Rangnick.
"If there hadn't been any problems before I came I wouldn't have come, probably Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] would still be sat here answering your questions.
"There were some problems the team already had at the end of November and as we all know in the first couple of months until the end of January we were improving, we conceded less goals, we had a point average of 2.1 after the West Ham game but then in that international break we lost three players and we had problems to score goals and find our balance.
"Now it's time to look ahead, now we have two games to play try to play as well as we possibly can, get as many points as we possibly can out of those two games and then together with Erik, together with the board, together with the scouting department, hopefully find and also convince the players, it's not only about finding them, scouting them you also have to convince them to come to Manchester United."