Mark Buckingham assesses whether Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson will dip into the transfer market in January.
Manchester United are winding themselves up for the closest battle for the Premier League title in years, but does Sir Alex Ferguson need to increase his options in the New Year? Mark Buckingham
assesses how the champions' solitary summer signing Dimitar Berbatov has done and whether Ferguson will dip into the transfer market in January.
How the new boy has done
Berbatov has had a relatively low-key start to his United career, but the second half of the season is likely to see the Bulgarian striker in a much better light. In both his campaigns at Tottenham Hotspur, Berbatov's goals output was improved after the Christmas festivities and United fans will be hoping for a similar improvement.
He has managed just two goals in the Premier League in 13 appearances - both of which were relatively inconsequential efforts against promoted duo West Brom and Stoke. But he was not signed just to provide a goal threat and the quality and range of his passing at times has shown why Ferguson spent so long pursuing the signing of the former Bayer Leverkusen star.
His work-rate, or general lack of one, will always attract criticism, but he has shown a willingness to track back at times and is slowly fitting into United's system. With the Premier League title race likely to be the closest in many a year, a little piece of magic from the £30million man may just prove to be crucial in the champions completing a hat-trick.
What they need
It is hard to pinpoint an area that Ferguson needs to strengthen in the New Year as the United manager appears to have enough cover for all positions in his squad.
The emergence of Rafael da Silva has improved Ferguson's defensive options, while the likes of Rodrigo Possebon, Darron Gibson and Danny Welbeck give the champions promising back-up in midfield and attack.
If Ferguson does decide to move into the market in January, then it is likely to be with more than one eye on the long-term future of the club as shown by the intent to sign Serbian winger Zoran Tosic.
What they will get
Well, United are hoping to sign Tosic from Partizan Belgrade, with the club having already successfully applied for a work permit for the 21-year-old. However, personal terms have yet to be agreed with the player as United also chase Tosic's team-mate Adem Ljajic.
Even if United do conclude deals for both youngsters, it is unlikely that they will play any more than bit-part roles in the second half of the season and could even be sent out on loan.
Regarding any possible outgoings from Old Trafford, given the number of games United are pencilled in to play from January onwards, it appears unlikely that Ferguson will let many of his younger fringe players head out on loan for experience as they are likely to be needed at some stage.
There is also the small matter of finalising a permanent deal for Carlos Tevez, whose two-year loan expires at the end of the season. Rumours suggest the price is the sticking point, and you can understand why United may be hesistant to splash out £25million for a player who has not been a regular starter this term.
Fan's view - Graham Davies
I think Man Utd need to look at bringing in a new winger to understudy Ronaldo as I feel he will be going in the summer, Nani is good but I don't like the idea of us relying on Park as he is only a squad player. I think we could sell Neville for a couple of million as Rafael needs the chance to prove himself. Foster should go out on loan until the end of the season and then take the No.1 shirt from Edwin in the summer. We need to bring in another striker (Jermain Defoe maybe) and a midfield playmaker (Joao Moutinho of Sporting Lisbon preferably)!