Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are not alone in having one major problem. Liverpool.
Miles ahead on the pitch and miles ahead in the transfer market.
United finished 15 points behind Manchester City last season but there were enough signs to suggest they could get closer this time around.
They were able to take particular encouragement from their head-to-head record against Pep Guardiola’s team, winning both Premier League games in 2019/20.
There is still a sizeable gap between the two Manchester teams but not one that is unbridgeable.
Yes, City have bought players in this transfer window but the recruitment of Nathan Ake, Ferran Torres and Ruben Dias invites as many questions as answers.
Torres is promising but world-class talents David Silva and Leroy Sane have gone. Dias has a sound reputation but Ake had been part of a defence that leaked goals alarmingly.
Even if United do have to settle for one piece of buying business – the accomplished Donny van de Beek – there is no obvious reason they should lose ground to City this season.
But if they want to make any sort of inroads into the gulf that separates them from Liverpool, United simply must sort out a dysfunctional transfer policy.
Short term and long term.
As mentioned elsewhere on this page, Liverpool have not only shown themselves to be skilful purchasers, they are remarkably adept sellers.
They took a big hit on Alexis Sanchez and still have a selection of big-earning fringe players such as Phil Jones and Jesse Lingard that need unloading.
In case you had not noticed, the Glazers run United strictly as a business. Like it or not, there is book-balancing to be done.
Which, incidentally, makes the goalkeeping situation a touch odd.
Whoever Solskjaer makes his number one pick – and, so far, there is no suggestion it is going to be Dean Henderson ahead of David de Gea – the situation is plain and simple.
For every Premier League game, United will have a very valuable asset, a very highly-paid asset, sat on the bench, doing nothing.
It might look good and it is great for Solskjaer to have fantastic back-up but from a practical and financial point of view, it makes little sense.
United have two brilliant keepers under contract until 2023 and 2025.
Sooner or later, they will surely have to pick the number one and sell the other.
It is typical of the muddled thinking.
A while ago, Ed Woodward was almost convincing in explaining why United had yet to go down the director of football route.
Manchester United are looking to plot their path back to the top. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already brought in Donny van de Beek but Jadon Sancho remains Manchester United’s number one target.
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But the evidence that Woodward and Solskjaer need help, both on the buying and selling front, continues to mount.
They might well pull off some last-minute business over the next couple of days. Edinson Cavani looks a possibility.
They might even pull a Jadon Sancho deal out of the fire.
But it will still all look a bit unseemly. Certainly not meticulously structured as Liverpool’s business seems to be.
Chelsea finished last season level on points with United and have recruited in numbers. How wisely that recruitment has been remains to be seen.
But at least they looked as though they had a plan – it does not look that way at Old Trafford.
Sevilla’s director of football Monchi gave an interview last week in which he said he simply could not believe Manchester United did not have a sporting director.
And on the evidence of this extended transfer window, he has got a point.