a The great thing about the transfer window is that it is closed now,a well, this is what Louis Van Gaal is most probably thinking through the international break. But how did Manchester United fare in this window? TheHardTackle offers its take on all the wheelings and dealings over the last few months and how the current squad is shaping up.

Manchester United needed to improve when last season came to a close. And for any club that has genuine ambitions of competing for the Premier League title but has finished 7th and 4th over 2 seasons the transfer window provides an opportunity to do just that.

But have Manchester United made the most of this window of opportunity?

Goalkeeper

The good news is that David De Gea is still at Old Trafford. He is here either due to the inexperience in Manchester Uniteda s transfer committee or the ego of Florentino Perez depending on whether you are a Madridista or a Red Devil.

But the former Atletico Madrid stopper hasna t had a competitive game since the end of last season and Van Gaala s managerial nous will be tested to the hilt in how he integrates the disgruntled Spanish international into the team. He knows that he has Sergio Romero as a dependable No.2 but then he knows that the Argentine international is a No.2.

Verdict a The best piece of business that Manchester United have done in this transfer window is not doing any business as far as De Gea is concerned.

Defence

At the end of last season if there was one area of the pitch where United needed a top reinforcement it was in the centre of defence. They tried to get Mats Hummels but he could not be persuaded to leave the Westfalenstadion. Nicolas Otamendi was also rumoured to be a target and while he did end up in Manchester he joined rivals City.

Swansea City AFC vs Manchester United FC

Smalling is the leader in United’s defence now

So at centre back United are left with the options of the increasingly improving Chris Smalling and Daley Blind, who it seems has finally found a place for himself after spells at left back and holding midfield. For backup they have Phil Jones & Marcos Rojo. The former was once touted as the heir apparent to Duncan Edwards but who now spends most of his time in the treatment room and the latter who has caught the infamous United injury bug.

Full back though is one area where the Red Devils can lay claim to not only being one of the best in England but also in Europe. Luke Shaw looks to have left his fitness worries behind him and is slowly looking like the player who played so well for Southampton. On the right Matteo Darmian is definitely an upgrade on Rafael da Silva & Antonio Valencia and oozes class expected of a full Italy international.

Verdict a While United are well positioned in the wider defensive positions they might struggle centrally especially if Smalling suffers an injury or loss of form.

Midfield

Centre midfield is an area in which United are spoilt for choice. Last season they had to rely on Michael Carrick while this season they can also call upon Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Schneiderlin has been one of the most consistent midfielders in the Premier League over the last couple of season while Schweinsteiger despite his injury woes of late still remains a class act.

Slightly upfront Van Gaal has Ander Herrera and Juan Mata. While both of them are fine players, the Dutch tactician has not used them to proper effect. Herrera spends most of his time on the bench, and Mata is shifted to the right wing to accommodate 2 central midfielders. The former deserves to start a run of games to prove himself while the latter needs to be played centrally so that he can use his vision & technique to full effect.

But how Van Gaal will ultimately achieve balance in the middle of the park is a question perhaps no one has an answer to.

Verdict a The quality is definitely there but it will come down to how van Gaal uses players play when there is space only for 3.
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Winger/Wide Forward

Manchester United have a surfeit of options in Ashley Young, Memphis Depay & Antonio Valencia but none of them have the quality to trouble the best defences in the Premier league and in Europe. While Depay will surely become a world beater he is not one now and must be allowed to settle in a way similar to Cristiano Ronaldo was more than a decade back.

Adnan Januzaj has been allowed to leave albeit on a loan to Borussia Dortmund and one hopes that he returns to Manchester a polished diamond and fulfils the promise he showed during David Moyesa reign.

Verdict a While Depay gives promise for the future the current crop is not a patch on the likes of Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham.

Striker

As of now the Red Devils do not have a striker. What they have is Wayne Rooney who is a no. 10 but who was last season played as a no.8 and to compensate for that is being played as a no.9 now. He was and never will be a striker as he is too unselfish to play this role. His basic instinct is to always go look for the ball and then either drive at defences or bring the wide players into play.

Aston Villa Vs Manchester United

Can Rooney carry United on his shoulders this season

Deadline day signing Anthony Martial, the new most expensive teenager ever is an unknown quantity and has an equal chance of becoming the next Thierry Henry or David Bellion and a betting man would say more chances of the latter happening than the former. Even if he blossoms into a fine player it will not happen this season and this will put even more pressure on Rooney.

The other options are Marouane Fellaini, who at best can be used as an impact substitute, and James Wilson, who might have the potential but who will never be allowed to show it at Old Trafford.

Verdict a Wayne Rooney must be at his 2004 best if Manchester United are to challenge for anything this season but the omens do not look good.

Final Verdict

It seems that the current transfer policy at Old Trafford is to first buy players and then assess whether they are needed or not. It happened last season with Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria. It is happening this season again with similar players being bought like Depay & Martial and Schweinsteiger & Schneiderlin.

Van Gaal though will have to make sense of it this time otherwise he might not have another transfer window to try again.