Alex Ferguson wants to add to his squad in this January transfer window but is concerned that inflated, prohibitive transfer fees will prevent him signing the players he wants.
The Manchester United manager wants to challenge on three fronts in the next five months, seeking to win the Premier League, the Champions League and, starting with Liverpool's visit to Old Trafford today, the FA Cup.
"I'd like to get one player in during the transfer window if I could," he said. "I don't see it happening really. Normally the player you really want you can't get because clubs have their own criteria and priorities and also most of the players you'd like are involved in European football.
"We have done it in the past with Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Andy Cole and Louis Saha and they all worked reasonably well. But some deals done in January you don't get the benefit until a year later like with Vidic and Evra -- you face a lot of different things.
"Clubs have different training methods and when you have a player coming in mid-season into your club and their training routine might be completely different to yours and you are trying to change them so there is a lot to consider."
Ideally, United would recruit in midfield. There have been persistent reports in Spain that United are interested in Real Madrid's France international Lassana Diarra, available for £14m, but it is understood Ferguson would like a more creative midfield player.
Like many of Europe's top clubs, United have been monitoring Shinji Kagawa, the Japanese midfielder, who has scored 12 goals in 27 games for the Bundesliga's runaway leaders Borussia Dortmund this season. Kagawa is at the Asian Cup with Japan this month so if United do decide to pursue their interest, a summer move seems more likely.
The need to recruit is exacerbated by the absence of South Korea international Ji-Sung Park, who could be kept in Qatar for the Asian Cup until January 29. Tom Cleverley, who has impressed on loan at Wigan, is out for five weeks with a hamstring injury while striker Federico Macheda has been allowed to go on loan to Sampdoria. Owen Hargreaves's hamstring problems have forced him to see a specialist in Germany.
The good news for Ferguson, though, is that Antonio Valencia is making good progress towards fitness from his serious ankle injury and could be back in five weeks.
That Ferguson is looking to deepen his squad makes sense if he is as serious about the FA Cup as he claims. He said he was "sick for days" after losing in the third round to Leeds last season and does not want to lose to another of the club's fiercest rivals this season. "It was a bad performance and that may help us and I'll certainly be picking my strongest team, no doubt," he said.
While United have claimed the trophy 11 times (more than any other club) they have not won it since they beat Millwall 3-0 in 2004.
United have been blamed for being the team that most devalued the competition, by withdrawing from the 1999-2000 competition to play in a Fifa World Club Championships in Brazil, but with senior players such as Rio Ferdinand, Edwin van der Sar and Vidic yet to win the tournament, there is added motivation this season.
Sunday Indo Sport