Optimism has been in short supply at Manchester United during pre-season.
A series of poor performances, coupled with the ongoing criticism of manager Jose Mourinho, has made for a summer of discontent at Old Trafford.
Their odds of winning the Premier League have been pushed out to 13/2 as a result. But that could shorten if they can get the signing of Bayern Munich ace Jerome Boateng over the line.
The 29-year-old defender has been strongly linked with a move to the Red Devils in the last 24 hours.
And his capture could be a significant bit of business if Ed Woodward and co. can pull it off.
Boateng’s arrival would add an important level of depth to a United side which currently lacks that extra layer of quality.
The current crop of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly are often unconvincing and wholly unreliable.
That’s not just our opinion. None of the quintet made more than 28 individual league appearances last season. That’s not good enough for a side with ambitions of challenging on four fronts.
Ivory Coast star Bailly has shown the most promise of the aforementioned group. But it’s difficult to see him flourishing without an established partner to learn from.
Someone like Boateng, who has won the lot in his time with Bayern and as an international with Germany, could be the ideal foil for the youngster.
Despite his poor World Cup in Russia, the ex-Manchester City man remains one of the world’s best defenders.
The Red Devils’ most formidable sides in the modern era have all been built on a solid defensive base. Get that right, and it should breed confidence throughout the rest of the team.
Boateng’s acquisition isn’t the only thing that needs to happen across the next four days for this United team to improve this season. But it’s a start.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication