Alex Ferguson has been told that money is available to add to his Manchester United squad this month, despite the ongoing delay in plans by the Glazer family to raise £600m from a partial flotation of the club on the Singapore Stock Exchange.
With United losing ground to Manchester City in the title race following back-to-back Premier League defeats against Blackburn and Newcastle, the debilitating effects of a crippling injury list have prompted widespread calls for Ferguson to strengthen his squad during the transfer window.
But, despite being given the go-ahead by the club's owners to recruit this month, Ferguson's position remains unchanged in that he will only add to his squad if he feels any potential signing can benefit the team in the long term, rather than arrive as a short-term fix with little prospect of improving the squad beyond the current injury crisis.
While United's finances continue to be weighed down by the club's debt, which stands at £433m, it is understood there is no restriction on incomings this month.
However, Ferguson's attempts to sign Samir Nasri and Wesley Sneijder last summer both foundered on United's refusal to meet the players' wage demands, while the manager has repeatedly insisted that a lack of value in the market has led to his reluctance to compete with the likes of City, Barcelona and Real Madrid for signings.
Ferguson's measured response to the defeat at Newcastle and his insistence that now is "not a time to panic" was revealing in itself, however, in that he actually felt the need to project an air of calm.
He delivered the same message following United's Champions League defeat against Basle last month, which came less than a week after the Carling Cup exit at the hands of Crystal Palace, but repeated calls for calm only hint at uncertainty.
The loss of captain Nemanja Vidic to a season-ending cruciate ligament injury, swiftly followed by Darren Fletcher's submission to a debilitating bowel condition, would explain the sense of unease, particularly with Ferguson currently missing eight first-team players.
Following the defeat at Newcastle, Dwight Yorke, a treble winner at United in 1999, claimed that, for the first time, he had witnessed a United team devoid of leadership on the pitch.
The implication was that United can now be bullied out of games, because of the absence of Vidic and the lack of a commanding presence in midfield. Both areas could be addressed with replacements this month. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
ALEX Ferguson has dismissed suggestions Manchester United will attempt to sign Frank Lampard during the January transfer window. Reports this morning claimed Ferguson would try to lure the 33-year-old Chelsea midfielder to Old Trafford to help avert an injury crisis that has already seen Nemanja Vidic, Darren Fletcher, Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Fabio Da Silva and Michael Owen sidelined.