LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal promised that there would be no panic signings before the transfer deadline but the recruitment of French forward Anthony Martial appears to be exactly that.
Van Gaal has been linked with some of Europe's leading forwards, including Thomas Mueller, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, but he has turned to 19-year-old Martial to boost his threadbare attacking resources though the deal was yet to be officially confirmed by United or Monaco.
Captain Wayne Rooney did not have the faintest idea who Martial was and had to turn to team mate Morgan Schneiderlin to get the low-down when news of United's reported bid for the 19-year-old Frenchman broke.
United have scored three goals in their first four Premier League games with Wayne Rooney deployed as the main striker but the England captain has been subdued.
Van Gaal opted to let Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao leave Old Trafford, leaving Rooney and the callow James Wilson as his only specialist forwards.
United do have players like Memphis Depay, Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini capable of supporting Rooney in different ways but it is extremely surprising that Van Gaal has not brought in a more experienced striker.
"They've not got enough cutting edge," former United defender Gary Neville said on Sky Sports.
"They haven't got players who can beat players in the final third, they don't create enough. For me they get lulled into thinking they are playing football really well.
"They dominate possession but they don't dominate matches. You dominate a match by scoring goals and playing at a high tempo. Win the game and then control possession."
Van Gaal has also failed to sign the dominant central defender United have lacked since Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand left the club last year.
Chris Smalling and Daley Blind have started the first four games at the heart of the United defence but although Blind provides a calming presence his lack of physicality was exposed in the 2-1 defeat by Swansea City on Sunday.
Van Gaal has bolstered his midfield with the signings of Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger and the former, in particular, has settled in well in the holding role.
Memphis scored two fine goals in the Champions League qualifying win over Club Bruges at Old Trafford but he has struggled to make an impact in the league.
Although United have conceded only two goals in four league games, the Old Trafford crowd will not accept a functional team which is hard to break down.
The ease with which Swansea came from a goal down to score twice in five minutes showed that is not the case anyway and the lack of creativity is a genuine cause for concern.
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly