After a mixed start to the new season a few things always seemed inevitable for Manchester United in the opening months of the campaign.
A progressive first full season under the guidance of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw fans grow accustomed to big results in big matches, a trait which has been repeated already this season, even if the worryingly predictable failure to beat lesser sides also still remains.
Solskjaer will point towards the intense fixture schedule as reason behind United’s mixed start and he is right that critics must look at the wider picture before they scrutinise them too heavily.
United might be ninth in the Premier League table, but they still remain ahead of both Manchester City and Arsenal and level on points with Everton despite having played a game less than Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
Manchester United were hit by a double Neymar sucker-punch as they lost 3-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in their crucial Champions League match on Wednesday.
It means United travel to Germany needing a point from their final group match against RB Leipzig to qualify for the last 16.
Before then, the Reds have a tricky Premier League trip to West Ham to negotiate at the weekend.
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The obvious comparison is with Chelsea; the team they pipped to third place last season but lost to in an FA Cup semi-final. United still only remain three points off Frank Lampard’s side having played a game less, and having spent significantly less in the summer.
The mitigation of that is Chelsea were making up for lost time in the summer months following their previous transfer ban, while United adopted a conservative approach closer to that of the other elite European club teams.
Stamford Bridge spending saw United fans watch on in jealousy as they left their own business late into the window, scurrying to sign four new players on deadline day.
Yet while many supporters wished they had matched Chelsea with so many high-profile attacking additions in the summer it was a free transfer which perhaps represented the best bit of business.
Thiago Silva, like Edinson Cavani, has arrived in English football as a serial winner with his experience immediately strengthening a weakened area of the pitch.
Just as Cavani has revolutionised United’s attacking options, Silva has transformed Chelsea’s fortunes at the back with a calmness and authority which has been lacking ever since John Terry left them three years ago.
The deadline day swoop to sign Cavani is already paying off for United with two fine performances in the space of a week, as the Uruguayan has eased fears of being a transfer flop with an incredible work rate and his own fine individual talents.
Many fans had been put off by such marquee signings after failures such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Angel di Maria and Alexis Sanchez in the past, but Cavani’s immediate impact has once again reignited the debate in favour of such straightforward additions.
Likewise the immediate impact of Silva at Stamford Bridge has opened the possibility of United signing a short-term option to solve their centre-back issue while they wait for a younger target like Dayot Upamecano to come available.
The ongoing loss of match day revenues means United will need to think outside the box when it comes to transfers next year, with swap-deals and free agents much more appealing in the current financial climate.
As a result it could be perfect timing for United to make another experienced addition, with Sergio Ramos currently the leading candidate for such a role.
The 34-year-old looks set to leave Real Madrid when his contract expires at the end of the current season and a spell in English football could appeal to the serial winner who has celebrated 22 major honours during his time in the Spanish capital.
Unlike many of United’s previous flops Ramos, like Cavani, is a born winner and could bring much-needed experience to an area of the pitch which remains relatively weak.
Ramos could immediately form a partnership with club captain Harry Maguire, allowing Victor Lindelof to join them in a back three when required, or simply establishing himself as the best rotation option at the club.
Thoughts on Ramos? Let us know in the comments here.
The experience of the Spanish veteran could also aide the development of young duo Axel Tuanzebe and Teden Mengi immensely, with the possible arrival of Ramos on a short-term deal not affecting their development at the club too much.
Of course any potential signing would rely on United getting ride of deadwood like Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly, but the lack of a transfer fee for Ramos would make it more acceptable to take a loss on any of the trio’s possible departure.
Solskjaer has every right to continue with his overall cultural reset at Old Trafford, but just because veteran signings failed before it does not mean they are completely worthless now.
United will need to be creative if they are to stay competitive in the transfer market while revenues remain limited, it might be time to say ‘vamos’ to Ramos.