It’s too early to judge how United fared in the transfer window but at first glance it’s better than last season, when, you will remember, Chris Wilder signed four players who are no longer at the club.
Wilder is the best manager we have had since Dave Bassett but he is not faultless, as some of his unsuccessful signings have shown.
There was a feeling last season – and it wasn’t something revealed in hindsight – that Lee Evans, Ryan Leonard, Ricky Holmes and James Wilson only made the squad deeper, not stronger.
Evans was mostly good but also had some awful games, such as Barnsley away, and is now not pulling trees up at Wigan.
Leonard is at struggling Millwall, Holmes has been loaned to two League One teams, and Wilson is now at Aberdeen, and we know how poor the SPL is.
This season the January signings are from a different level, even though their recent records have been low key (i.e. they haven’t played much for their parent clubs), but each has a pedigree somewhat above the players signed a year ago.
Two of them have been bought and sold for multi-millions and the third is an England Under-21 international who did well for Forest in the Championship last season.
Wilder knows he has to incrementally improve the squad each transfer window, and last summer he did that to great effect. John Egan is an improvement on Richard Stearman, Ollie Norwood is an improvement on Lee Evans, and Dean Henderson is an improvement on Simon Moore.
And the profiles of Kieran Dowell, Gary Madine and Scott Hogan suggest they are more likely to make an impact than last season’s four did.