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Man Utd change in tone makes targeted pair January certainties

| 05.09.2014

Bringing in five players costing over £25m a piece since the end of the 2012/13 campaign, plus Radamel Falcao on loan, signals Manchester United’s acceptance that, without Sir Alex Ferguson, they are no longer a club apart in the Premier League.

The 13-time title winning boss made a telling speech at the end of the 2011/12 season, with the quote below the most relevant:

‘We invest in young players. That is what we are good at – we’re not like other clubs who can spend fortunes on proven goods. We know that City are going to spend fortunes, pay stupid money, pay silly salaries and all that.’

This ethos is now dead, so much so that United are expected to add even more players in January to a squad that was furnished by £200m worth of talent over the summer.

Kevin Strootman from Roma looks as good as on if the some-time Holland captain (Louis van Gaal had the midfielder earmarked for the role before the World Cup) can recover from the knee injury that ruled him out of the trip to Brazil.

Buying Strootman would allow Van Gaal to push fellow Dutch Old Trafford newcomer Daley Blind to left-back should £27m signing Luke Shaw not work out, which seems alarmingly possible at this early juncture.

Blind could also be earmarked for a role in his gaffer’s three-man defence, although £16m man Marcos Rojo is as left-sided as last year’s Eredivisie player of the year, suggesting their dual presence may imbalance the backline.

If reports are to be believed, Van Gaal is planning to kick United’s move for Borussia Dortmund centre-half Mats Hummels up a couple of gears in January.

Signing the best defender at the World Cup at the tender age of 26 could be as important as any United have made post-Fergie, but punting on the board’s huge outlay saving their Premier League season courtesy of a top-four finish at 4/5 seems unwise.

Van Gaal has had a truly terrible start, and at the odds this bet holds little value, with 7/1 about a record 12th FA Cup success in May a much more pleasing wager.

They’ll be a far more settled side by January and top-flight clubs are only ever five games away from the final, so this bet should go well.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune