Marcos Rojo was reliably unreliable as he deputised for the rested Daley Blind at Norwich on an afternoon when United's need for a centre-back became urgent.
The only positive in the Reds' rubbish and amateurish summer transfer window in 2013 were that David Moyes and Ed Woodward managed to sign a midfielder in Marouane Fellaini, albeit for £4.5 million more than they should have.
Moyes had deadline days bids rejected for Real's Sami Khedira and Roma's Daniele De Rossi after he was led down the garden path by Cesc Fabregas.
Atletico's Koke and PSG's Blaise Matuidi were scouted, a deal worked on for then Bayern string-puller Toni Kroos and wanted to re-sign Paul Pogba.
United's midfield was in such a mess that we could have done with all seven of them.
In the three summer windows since Sir Alex's retirement, United have signed five central midfielders- six if you include Angel di Maria bought on the back of a captivating campaign spent on the left of a midfield three.
United have another issue with their spine now- in defence.
The last senior central defender we signed was Phil Jones from Blackburn in 2011.
We were keen on Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen in 2014 until they wanted Chris Smalling in exchange, and countless pursuits of Mats Hummels rebuffed.
Daley Blind's new role in central defence convinced Van Gaal to go after only Sergio Ramos last season but the Madrid man played United even better than Fabregas to get a substantial pay rise at Real.
Van Gaal might insist that Marcos Rojo was a defensive buy but he was signed off the back of a World Cup campaign that he spent at left-back and you can count the amount of times he's played well there for us on one hand.
Since Jones joined, Wes Brown and John O'Shea have been sold, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand left the club and Jonny Evans moved to WBA.
We compensated for the departures of Brown and O'Shea by bringing in Jones, having signed Smalling 18 months earlier, yet we've been negligent by not re-inforcing the defence in the wake of Rio and Vida's exits.
Van Gaal has been reliant on Smalling and Blind's- admittedly impressive- partnership but the problem comes when one of them is injured or- in Blind's case on Saturday- rested.
We have a paucity of options when that happens.
Without Smalling at Bournemouth in December, Blind was partnered by Paddy McNair.
Blind was due a rest- he had not missed a game since October and has been listed in every United squad this season- jadedness that led to unconvincing showings against Watford and at West Brom.
He's had a genuinely decent season and it remains debatable whether centre-half is his best position.
Rojo too often gives the impression he wants to elsewhere, Jones is injury prone and McNair is now in midfield for the Under 21s.
Aymeric Laporte, Raphael Varane and John Stones have all interested United with Varane the most suitable target.
Unlike the midfield, United cannot go another year without strengthening.