Louis Van Gaal has moved to explain why Manchester United didn't sign more defenders in the summer as the side suffer from a number of injuries at the back.
The incoming manager was criticised when he came to Old Trafford during the most recent transfer window and made big attacking signings at the expense of defensive ones, though Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo joined the fold during the window.
In total the club spent in excess of £150million on players and Van Gaal believes they can challenge with the top teams, insisting that if he had signed more defenders they would have had little chance of being involved in the team.
the Manchester Evening News reports the manager saying: "I have mentioned that three central defenders were injured. Is that normal in a club? I don't think that is normal.
"Then Jones and Valencia were also injured, so more or less five defenders.
"But (if) we have to buy five central defenders then they don't have any option to play (when others recover). You have to give options to the players to play, otherwise they are not involved. That is why I am working with 26 players, not 35 players."
United's start to the season has been somewhat mixed but should they beat West Brom away on Monday night, they will move into fourth place in the table.
And Van Gaal was quick to insist that despite having some big stars in his team, no player gets an automatic starting place with every quad member having to fight to get their name on the team sheet.
"Nobody is walking back in my team," he explained. "You have to earn it on the training ground - every player knows that.
"I have great respect for the players I use at this moment and I have also the confidence in these players.
"When you mention Rooney, Carrick and Jones - of course they are great football players, but we have more great football players. Sometimes the other football players are doing better. It is not only the name.
"I have seen, for example, the youngest player, (Paddy) McNair, was outstanding in his first match. You have seen the reaction of the fans. Every time he touched the ball - applause.
"Of course Jones, Evans and Smalling were not available, but I am always thinking that youngsters can take the job over, especially one or two games."