Another year has passed, and yet that message is still as relevant as it was twelve months ago.
Jose Mourinho arrived into the January transfer window last year in desperate need of a new central defender, yet he finished the window with only the added conundrum of Alexis Sanchez, instead.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might not have the same authority to dictate such transfer activity this winter but his need for a new centre-back is just as pertinent. United might want to use the excuse of managerial uncertainty as justification of a reserved approach during January, but such an approach might not be manageable if the club truly want to mount a top-four challenge.
Regardless of what happens at Wembley this weekend, Solskjaer deserves immense credit for the manner in which he has revitalised a stagnant season and given a glimmer of hope towards a top-four finish. Even if he is not in charge by the end of the summer the club need to do everything they can to ensure he has the best platform possible to achieve the previously unthinkable and secure automatic Champions League qualification.
Breaking the bank to sign a world-class centre-back would certainly be commitment on their part. You only have to rewind a year to see a similar approach adopted by Liverpool as they looked to secure the services of Virgil van Dijk, a signing which solidified their top-four ambitions and helped guide them to a Champions League final.
In similar circumstance Man City used the January window as an opportunity to recruit Aymeric Laporte. The centre-back was not in their immediate plans but was recruited with his long-term viability at the club, again they are reaping the rewards already. It is easy enough to hesitate regarding a deal for Kalidou Koulibaly, perhaps Napoli do not want to sell him now, but likewise Southampton and Athletic Bilbao did not want to part with their star man last season.
Of course Champions League football comes into the equation, but by delaying a move for a top-class defender United jeopardise any hopes of their own involvement in the same competition next season.
If Koulibaly is good enough for United, then he is worth paying extra for now. It is no surprise to see the Senegalese defender linked with a move to Real Madrid as uncertainty continues to mount over United’s own transfer activity. While it might make financial sense to delay recruitment now, it simply does not make sense from a football perspective. With every man of the match display a player like Koulibaly will only continue to justify a higher price-tag, and with that run the risk of a side like Real Madrid stealing such a formidable talent in the summer.
The safe option for United is to save money in the current transfer window, but such sheepish commitment could prolong the predicament they find themselves in now.