Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson believes Manchester United are crying out for some midfield invention and suggests the fact they failed to land Wesley Sneijder in the summer is a damning indictment of their current malaise on and off the pitch.
Manchester United were perpetually linked with the likes of Sneijder, Luka Modric and Samir Nasri but failed to add that "bit of X Factor" to supplement the functional Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher.
Lawrenson, who won five league titles during his superb Liverpool career, concedes Manchester United are paying the ultimate price for failing to bring in world class playmaker and replace the recently retired Paul Scholes.
The aforementioned Anfield hero and current Match of the Day pundit believes Manchester United are now in desperate need of "surgery" but admits Sir Alex Ferguson is unlikely to make a lavish statements of intent in January. Lawrenson claims Manchester United must address their problems in the summer or risk further disappointments in the Champions League.
"It showed Manchester United need surgery. It's not about desire or whether players are committed. It is a lack of quality." The former Liverpool defender told the Mirror.
"Ryan Giggs is on the wane. Old Father Time is catching up. But the player they have missed and not replaced is Paul Scholes.
"Michael Carrick, Anderson and Darren Fletcher are all good players but Manchester United need that someone special alongside them. Someone to inject a bit of X Factor.
"That has been missing so much this season they had to even use Wayne Rooney as a holding central midfielder. For them to have to say: "we've got no-one else" is just a staggering admission. This is Manchester United for pity's sake.
"It's so obvious it's almost become a cliche. Manchester United needed a central midfield player with quality, a playmaker, a player of the calibre of a Schneider or Schweinsteiger. Now the problem is worse because they have lost Nemanja Vidic for the rest of the season.
"The loss of such an experienced player is a hammer blow - and comes on top of the retirements of Edwin Van der Sar and Scholes at the end of last season.
"Vidic is the defender who knits the (Manchester United) team together. When he plays they look more stable, more secure and strong. He is the player who can help the likes of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling blend into the team.
"The trouble is you can't generally buy top quality in January. That's because they're not for sale as they are still in the Champions League. Furthermore, Vidic and Patrice Evra were signed as January deals and it took them a while to settle in at Manchester United."