Ole Gunnar Solskjaer “desperately needs help” at Manchester United, admits Owen Hargreaves, with fifth in the Premier League “as good as it can possibly get” without assistance in the transfer market.
The Red Devils are still hoping to get “one or two” deals over the line before the January window slams shut.
It has, however, been another frustrating period for all concerned at Old Trafford of late, with a lack of movement off the field contributing to further struggles for consistency on it.
A disgruntled fan base has been quick to air its frustration in the direction of the club’s board and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, with those behind the scenes blamed for recent regression.
Hargreaves concedes it is difficult to see United becoming upwardly mobile again in their current state, with Solskjaer requiring greater support than he has received over the last 12 months.
“He desperately needs help,” the former Red Devils midfielder told BT Sport.
“If you think, [Ander] Herrera left, [Marouane] Fellaini left, in midfield, they are really light.
“Then [Romelu] Lukaku leaves, [Alexis] Sanchez leaves, they don't have any help up top.
“[Marcus] Rashford then gets injured, [Paul] Pogba hasn't played. [Scott] McTominay, one of their best players this season, hasn't played.
“The recruitment wasn't there to back Ole up and then injuries to key players.
“To be fifth with this squad, I think right now is as good as it can possibly get.
“There are only four points separating fifth and 14th. I don't think it's going to more up, it's more likely to go down and that's the big worry.”
United did show signs of life in their most recent outing, a crushing 6-0 win in the fourth round of the FA Cup, but they were always expected to sweep aside League One side Tranmere with the minimum of fuss.
Their next four outings will provide a better indication as to the direction in which their 2019-20 campaign is going to head.
Solskjaer’s side will be looking to overturn a 3-1 deficit in the second leg of a Carabao Cup semi-final tie with arch-rivals Manchester City on Wednesday, before then taking on fellow top-four hopefuls Wolves and Chelsea in the Premier League and Club Brugge in the last 32 of the Europa League.