It's probably time to start seriously considering that Manchester United are not going to finish in the top four. This isn't an enormous problem - any players that are in a position to force an exit from this are probably likely to leave anyway, or on long-term contracts, and with United likely to spend heavily in the summer regardless then we shouldn't have the same concerns about the long-term future of the club.
Nonetheless, it's clear that the squad is a mess and needs not one or two midfielders but a complete re-evaluation and overhaul from top to bottom. Some good players will have to leave to redress the balance, and choosing the right ones is almost as important as getting in the right replacements. Without further ado, we present a complete guide to Manchester United's current squad:
Players that should be kept at all costs, that can be valuable components of a new United.
The best centre-back at the club at the moment, who has matured into a remarkably complete footballer - supremely composed on the ball, making fewer mistakes, a fine passer and has developed an ability to step up to help the midfield at the right time.
Not been at his best this season, partially due to being asked to play at right-back too frequently, a role to which he is entirely unsuited, but a fine defender when given a run at centre-back. Needs to improve, but has plenty of time yet.
After a shocking run of form, has given a series of fine, controlling performances in midfield. Will probably be moved into the backline in time but right now is a good option in either position.
David de Gea
Potentially the best keeper in the world, and a brilliant one right now. A no-brainer.
See above, but for right-back.
Played as a striker, Danny Welbeck scores goals. Played on the wing, he at least provides energy and pace. Not yet first-choice ahead of Robin van Persie, but there is nothing to fear from going into a big game with the local hero as our main striker.
Robin van Persie
Regardless of rumoured fallouts, Van Persie is still a phenomenally effective striker when fit, and should be starting every game when he is. If he has to be used more sparingly, he also provides an excellent option for big games and off the bench. Should be kept at all costs.
Potentially the brightest talent at United for many, many years, Januzaj has been utterly astounding this season, the main creative thrust and impetus of a team of Champions at eighteen years old. A phenomenally complete player with very few weaknesses - the potential could be unimaginably high.
A poor start, but after finding his role and getting a run in the team can bring much to a more functional United midfield. Should be given plenty of time to find his feet.
Another player with very high potential, bringing goals and creativity from midfield. Powell's superb technique should make him a viable option for next season at the latest.
There are no other youngsters on whom we should cut our losses so far - Jesse Lingard, Michael and William Keane, Tom Lawrence, Andreas Pereira, Larnell Cole and others are all promising youngsters and while several will not make the cut, there is the potential there for more youth talent to bolster the squad.
Players that could have a role to play, and should be kept unless a very good offer comes in.
Very likely to leave in the summer, and a new left-back will surely be found soon, but Evra can still be a fantastic player on his day and provides an invaluable winning presence in the dressing-room. Should not be allowed to leave on a whim.
As above, although more injury-prone. But Vidic still has a role to play in the squad beyond this summer and should be kept hold of unless top-class, proven reinforcements are incoming.
Probably our best midfielder, which says more about the others, but if his fitness can improve and he can get back to the player of old, should definitely be kept around. Little to lose by keeping him on.
The bizarre refusal to play him can only suggest something is going on behind the scenes, but United would be mad to sell Zaha early. Deserves his chance in the team depending on how well he does on his expected loan.
Hernandez has been poor this season and is probably likely to want to find a new club soon enough, but United should recognise that with Rooney potentially outgoing, they do have a player who can be devastating if sensibly used.
Players that should be actively moved on now or in the summer if United are to grow and develop.
While he's shown flashes of decent form this season, he's also shown flashes of utter ineffectuality and is not cut out for this level. Should be moved on if United can find a buyer willing to pay his extravagant wages.
Now an utterly useless embarrassment, and should be moved on at any opportunity. Thanks for nothing.
It's a shame to see a previously indomitable player reduced to this but Valencia has passed the point at which he has something to offer this squad. Why he starts almost every game is baffling, but he needs to be moved on for more effective, expansive options on the wing.
Despite earning a new contract, David Moyes does not appear to fancy the Portuguese winger, who has still failed to be truly effective at United and will probably be moved on soon enough. It won't be a tremendous loss.
Seems to have completely gone this season. A liability on high wages. Get rid.
An appalling season has followed a good one for Carrick, whose age is beginning to show as he struggles to keep up with the pace of the game, completely failing to be influential when United don't have the ball and barely alert when they do have it. Expecting him to recapture last season's form is highly optimistic and United can do far better in the midfield positions. This year, when Carrick has played, the team have been awful, and he exemplifies the slow, stodgy, weak-willed game that has cost United so many points.
Wayne Rooney has been one of United's best players this season, a feat he's achieved in two previous seasons, in both of which United won nothing. Rooney's problems are many, even when he is on form: the expectation he will keep this up forever is frankly absurd given his history of long troughs of form. He is also undroppable even when going through such spells, due to his temperament, and also his third problem, phenomenally high wages.
If United can get in replacements, then Rooney has to go. Two very good players can have his wages allocated to them, and United lose a potentially disruptive influence on team form. On his day, Rooney is very reliable. But that is a paradox, and too few people seem to realise it. United need to make a brave move to rebalance their squad, and this is it.
Not good enough, never good enough, never going to be good enough. Veers between vaguely competent and an utter disgrace to the shirt.
Was supposed to improve as he settled but is getting worse and worse. Not suited to United's style or squad and not helping himself either with some increasingly anaemic and ineffective performances which suggest he is barely even trying - a goalscoring midfielder has has two shots this season. That is an utter disgrace, and the suggestion that he would turn into Maradona if played in the centre is not borne out by A) The fact he's been no better when played there, and B) Adnan Januzaj somehow managing to be a tremendous influence despite also being played on the left. The Belgian youngster's performances confirm that it is not Moyes' instruction holding the Japanese midfielder back. He needs to be moved on immediately because for United he is a waste of space.