Debate: If Manchester United can plug their gap in midfield the Premier League trophy is theirs

Comment by John McDougall 

An early season glance at the Premier League table shows the usual suspects at the helm, with Chelsea and both Manchester teams already the top three.

It is no surprise – all three finished in those positions last campaign and two of them have certainly been busy in the transfer market, both on and off the pitch.

At the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City have new manager Manuel Pellegrini, who has spent nearly £100million on Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo.

And in West London, the ‘Happy One’, Jose Mourinho, has returned toStamfordBridge, bringing Andre Schurrle, Marco van Ginkel and Mark Schwarzer with him.   

With both giants adding to their squads there has been next to no activity by Premier League champions Manchester United, as David Moyes adjusts to life at Old Trafford.

So far, United’s only foray into this summer’s transfer market has been signing Uruguayan full-back Guillermo Varela for around £1.5million.

Wilfried Zaha has come in from Crystal Palace and has impressed, but the young winger was brought in by Moyes’s predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson.

There have been pursuits for world-class midfielders, including failed raids fromBarcelonafor creative men Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas.

Yes, United have been frustrated and the new team at Old Trafford – Moyes and chief executive Ed Woodward – are clearly still finding their feet.

But with the lack of new players at Old Trafford and a new manager, many critics are putting the defending champions as only third favourites to defend their crown behind Chelsea and City.

While Mourinho will undoubtedly lift Chelsea and City have improved their squad through their acquisitions, to say United are underdogs to win the title is wrong.

This is a team that won the title last season by 11 points and, if last weekend’s win against SwanseaCity is anything to go by, will not surrender their crown lightly.

Not many teams will go to the Liberty Stadium this season and put four past the Swans, as United did thanks to Danny Welbeck and Robin van Persie.

United’s mercurial Dutchman has scored four goals in two games so far this season and with him, the Red Devils have one of the best strikers in world football.

Welbeck has equalled his United goal tally from last season in the opening fixture and the defensive partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic continues to be solid as a rock.

The Wayne Rooney saga and a potential move toChelseastill rumbles on, but the England striker got two assists off the bench against Swansea.

But United are understood to be adamant Rooney will not leave, regardless of any fee Chelsea offer them, and certainly not to a title rival.

United are only a central midfielder or two away from having a squad that can match City and Chelsea in every aspect.

Gareth Bale’s impending world-record transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid could spark an exodus from the Santiago Bernabeu that United could capitalise on.

Long-standing target Luka Modric and German midfielder Mesut Ozil could be up for grabs in the near future, something Moyes will be well aware of.

There is also the prospect of the Scot raiding ex-club Everton for Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines – who have already refused a joint £28million bid from United for the pair.

The central midfield – principally in attack – is an area Moyes needs to, and indeed admitted, strengthen.     

If that is done by September 2, expect there to be an extremely good chance of the Premier League trophy remaining at Old Trafford. 

Image courtesy of MUTV via Youtube, with thanks.

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