Former Manchester United defender Danny Higginbotham feels his old club are just two signings away from being genuine Premier League title contenders.
The Red Devils have been much improved this season, but remain some way off being good enough to close the gap on Manchester City, even though they enjoyed a recent 2-0 win over them in the Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium.
It seems clear Man Utd can and must still improve for next season, and Higginbotham, speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at its launch of the 5-A-Side Bet on Southampton v Brighton, believes they’re probably only two signings away.
The pundit is not that specific about the most important areas for United to strengthen, as he analyses their weaknesses in defence, midfield and attack, but he is probably right to state that strengthening in two out of those three areas could make a big difference for MUFC and their prospects next season.
“I think you have to look at the spine of any team and build from that,” Higginbotham said. “Dean Henderson has got his opportunity now after a fantastic season last year at Sheffield United. It’s going to be really interesting to watch him and David De Gea fight for that starting spot because every time Henderson has played he’s shown us what he’s capable of.
“Does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer want to improve the spine of his team? You’ve got Harry Maguire at the back who won’t be going anywhere but we’ve seen him play alongside Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof, so is that an area they look at in the summer?
“Then you go into midfield and if you look at some of the most successful teams in world football and on an international level, they’ve all got a top quality defensive midfielder. I think it’s becoming one of the most important positions on the pitch so does Ole bring someone in?
“At the top of that spine is your striker, and for Man United we’ve seen Anthony Martial play there, we’ve seen Mason Greenwood there, Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani but there’s not a standout name week-in, week-out. So I think that’s another key area that Manchester United should be looking at and maybe thinking they need to bring someone else in.
“When I’m looking at this current Manchester United side, I’m thinking two players would turn them into a team capable of sustaining a title challenge.
“It’s difficult though because you’re looking at United compared to Manchester City, who are the best team in the league at the moment, and I’m saying they’re probably two players off being able to compete with them for the league.
“But that’s not taking into consideration the business that City themselves might be looking to do. If they bring in an Erling Haaland, all of a sudden they’re pulling even further away in terms of being the best side in the Premier League.