Make no mistake, League One side Leeds United's 1-0 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford in FA Cup play on Sunday was no fluke. Even in the dwindling minutes of the game Leeds kicked it around, held possession and took as many cracks at the goal as the Red Devils did. It was very much a just result.
The timing of the loss, and the basic poor run of form that Man U have been experiencing against quality teams leading up to the shocking defeat will have a ripple effect on the entire January transfer window.
You can throw out their wins over Hull and Wigan that came before Sunday. In December, United were blanked twice, once by Aston Villa and once by a Fulham side that just gave up three goals to Stoke. We knew the impact of selling Ronaldo would be profound, but the gaping hole in United's attack can be evidenced by just going to the other side of town to see what Carlos Tevez is doing at Manchester City.
Tevez always had the ability to strike at any minute, and he teamed up with Wayne Rooney to create a frenzied attack, while Dimitar Berbatov's class complimented the two of them perfectly. Tevez is now at City, and still playing each game like it's going to be the last game of his career. Meanwhile, the problems that Tottenham had with Berbatov seem to be bubbling up at Old Trafford. He looks like he could care less at times, and no United fan could tell you what it looks like to see Berbatov sprint for a ball.
Rooney is still the Wayne Rooney the world has come to know. He is tied for the overal goals scored lead in the Premier League with Jermain Defoe, and two weeks ago was the lone reason United defeated Hull City. But to watch United all year long, and despite the obvious lack of Ronaldo and Tevez, there just seems to be something missing with Sir Alex's bunch, and with money to spend, the problem needs to be fixed in the January window.
Last January, the Red Devils looked as though they were going to run away with five trophies. The result was that Sir Alex didn't have to go shopping at all. He stood pat and reveled in having too many attacking options to choose from. This year, he has no choice but to keep Berbatov and Rooney in for 90 minutes. The loss to Leeds will almost certainly set off a global shopping spree by United.
The problem for Sir Alex as he prepares to do his post-holiday shopping, is that the only players available that match the glaring needs of his team are also across town. Craig Bellamy would be the perfect compliment to Rooney and Berbatov, and something tells me that Sir Alex could awaken the superstar that lies inside Robinho, but the Yankees would sooner trade Derek Jeter to the Red Sox than City would sell even a bag of balls to United.
So who else is out there for United that can help them challenge for the Champions League and take a legitimate shot at Chelsea in the Premiership?
Reports have surfaced that United's Portugese midfielder Nani is on the outs at Old Trafford, with speculation of United sending him, along with nine million Euros, to Portugese side Benfica in exchange for the 21-year old Argentinian winger Angel Di Maria. But if true, that move still does not help them now.
United hit the jackpot the last time they signed a young superstar from FC Porto. His name was Cristiano Ronaldo, and this January, the move that seems most likely is United swooping back in to Porto for a superstar with perhaps the best name in all of sports;23-year old striker Hulk. Another outside possibility that has been tossed around is the idea of Ruud Van Nistelrooy coming back to Old Trafford.
Arsenal and Liverpool are also in the market for a striker, and nobody ever knows what Real Madrid and Barcelona are willing to do in their arms race. Stay tuned, because if one thing is for certain after the loss to Leeds, Sir Alex is not happy, and he has always been one to send a message.