Paul Parker

Di Maria, Blind, De Jong? Even with all three United could miss out on top four

Paul Parker

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If rumours are to be believed it looks like Manchester United will tie up the signings of Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind and possibly Nigel De Jong before the end of the transfer window.

Even with those players though, United are still going to struggle to finish in the top four, let alone win the title.

Fans need to forget about the title now, getting back in the Champions League has to be the aim.

I must have been one of the few people who didn't think United's defeat against Swansea was much of a shock - Swansea started with a better group of players - and, in many ways, the performance against Sunderland was even worse.

United are playing average players, who haven’t learnt how to play the Manchester United way and who are playing out of position; how on earth are they starting as odds-on favourites for these games?

Teams are looking at the Manchester United team-sheet and being given a confidence boost before the match even starts.

People like to blame David Moyes for a lot of United's problems but it is time for them to bite their tongues on Moyes and start blaming the players instead.

Paul Scholes was right to say that Manchester United can't afford to become like Liverpool did in the 1990s but it could be even worse for United because there are more clubs around them that are spending money these days. You are not going to be able to make up the ground as quickly.

There is still time for United to fix things this transfer window and put a team together to make the top four, but they need to start spending - you have speculate to accumulate.

Once they get back in the Champions League they can start talking about bidding for the title again.

Certainly they need to toughen up in the central midfield position – they have been weak there for the last three or four seasons.

De Jong will not be the most popular player with the fans if he signs as he is a former Manchester City player who did not always conduct himself the right way there, but if he adds much needed steal then so be it.

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Blind will be a good signing as at least he knows how to play in a back three – Chris Smalling and Phil Jones don't know what they are doing back there. The two of them have been played in all types of roles since joining United but haven't settled anywhere. They are jacks of all trades but most certainly masters of none - so Blind is needed.

The big signing looks like it is going to do be Di Maria but the only concern with him is where exactly is he going to fit in?

You are going to have to use him and Juan Mata in similar areas; they are both great players and excellent at ball retention which is what the modern game is all about. You want them close together so they can dictate patters of play.

[UNITED EDGE CLOSE TO DI MARIA DEAL]

But where does that leave Wayne Rooney? To be honest, I'm not sure what Rooney's best position is at the moment because he seems to be failing no matter where you play him.

He's not good enough to be a number 10 but he also seems too laboured as a striker as he won't get behind people or play with his back to goal.

However, United have given him the big contract and the captaincy so they feel like they have to play him.

United have too many players that want to play through the centre but not enough out wide. Di Maria can play wide but Van Gaal seems to want to play with wing-backs and you don't spend £64m on a wing-back.

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They did spend £30m on a left-back in Shaw though and Rojo can play on the left side of defence too, so they might have one of the most expensive left sides in the world... but what about the other wing? Does Van Gaal think Ashley Young is the answer? I can tell you he's not; he's about as much of a wing-back as I was a centre forward. He even struggled to be a wide midfielder.

It all looks so unbalanced and there are so many question marks.

There is no tempo about the team – they are so laboured. United are starting to look like the English national team. Look at the World Cup, all the best teams were full of pace but United seem to be slowing down.

If they sign Di Maria, De Jong and Blind and you could guarantee that all three of them would stay fit and play the remaining 36 games then you might say Manchester United would do just enough to make the top four but I'm really not sure.

Those signings would bring stability, experience and, in the case of the Dutch players, much needed knowledge of Van Gaal's system - but United still need more.

-- Paul Parker

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