Red Devils and Reds may pay price for not buying, says Gary Lim
Man United and Liverpool may pay price for not strengthening squads
It took Louis van Gaal just three transfer windows to splurge £250 million ($514.4m) on new players.
It is why the silence in the Manchester United camp last month was deafening.
The shopping spree had ground to an unexpected halt.
For the first time since 2005, no new player arrived at Old Trafford in January. The rumoured swoops never materialised.
Renato Sanches stayed put at Benfica. United Arab Emirates playmaker Omar Abdulrahman remained at Al-Ain.
Midfielder Jorginho stayed back in Italy to help Napoli's title bid.
United joined basement boys Aston Villa as the only two Premiership clubs who failed to bolster their squads.
The only one walking through the gates was Adnan Januzaj, who was recalled from his loan spell with Borussia Dortmund.
This is a bad time to be overly cautious.
In choosing not to dip into their kitty, the Red Devils have also chosen to leave gaping holes unplugged.
The likes of Guillermo Varela, Paddy McNair, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Nick Powell have all made Premiership appearances this season, not purely out of the club's desire to nurture the next generation, but also out of sheer desperation.
Seven first-team players are currently sidelined with injuries.
The lengthy list has hit the squad hard, especially in defence where Luke Shaw is a long-term absentee, Phil Jones struggles to string together consecutive games and Marcos Rojo still suffers from a dislocated shoulder.
In a season where United have also struggled for cohesion and creativity in the final third of the field, the decision to not beef up the squad with exciting attacking talent is just as baffling.
The Red Devils have scored only 28 goals in 23 Premiership matches, a tally matched by second-from-bottom Sunderland.
The league title may no longer a realistic target, but a top-four spot remains very much within their reach.
Currently fifth in the table, they are only five points adrift of Tottenham Hotspur in fourth.
Disgruntled fans looked on with disbelief as the club passed up on the chance to make a new signing who can give the squad a lift in their push for a Champions League spot.
United are not the only struggling giants to go through a disappointing January transfer window.
Liverpool ended with no new attackers to add to a goal-shy offence which scored a meagre 30 league goals in 23 matches.
They gave up on top target Brazilian forward Alex Teixeira, after Shakhtar Donetsk reportedly demanded a £57m transfer fee.
Instead, defender Steven Caulker arrived on loan from Queens Park Rangers.
The acquisition of teenage Polish goalkeeper Kamil Grabara hardly set the pulses racing.
Serbia midfielder Marko Grujic was bought and immediately sent back to Red Star Belgrade on loan until the end of the season.
The inability to reinforce the squad in the right areas has very likely ended the Reds' outside chance of a top-four finish.
Like Man United, they have spurned an excellent opportunity to breathe life into their Premiership campaign.
It may return to haunt them at the finish line.
Major ins and outs
- In: Mohamed Elneny (Basel, undisclosed)
- Out: Mathieu Debuchy (Bordeaux, loan), Yaya Sanogo (Charlton, loan)
- Out: Joe Cole (Coventry, free)
- In (notable): Juan Iturbe (Roma, loan), Benik Afobe (Wolves, undisclosed)
- In: Alexandre Pato (Corinthians, loan), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls, undisclosed)
- Out: Papy Djilobodji (Werder Bremen, loan), Ramires (Jiangsu Suning, undisclosed)
- In: Emmanuel Adebayor (free agent)
- In: Oumar Niasse (Lokomotiv Moscow, £13.5m)
- Out: Steven Naismith (Norwich, undisclosed), Aiden McGeady (Sheffield Wednesday, loan)
- In: Demarai Gray (Birmingham, £3.75m), Daniel Amartey (FC Copenhagen, undisclosed)
- Out (notable): Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim, loan), Richie De Laet (Middlesbrough, loan)
- In: Marko Grujic (Red Star Belgrade, £5.1m), Steven Caulker (QPR, loan)
- In: Anthony Caceres (Central Coast Mariners, undisclosed)
- Out: Victor Valdes (Standard Liege, loan), Nick Powell (Hull, loan)
- In: Jonjo Shelvey (Swansea, £12m), Henri Saivet (Bordeaux, undisclosed), Andros Townsend (Tottenham, undisclosed), Seydou Doumbia (Roma, loan)
- Out: Florian Thauvin (Marseille, loan)
- In (notable): Steven Naismith (Everton, undisclosed), Ivo Pinto (Dinamo Zagreb, undisclosed), Matt Jarvis (West Ham, undisclosed)
- In: Charlie Austin (QPR, £4m)
- In: Giannelli Imbula (Porto, £18.3m)
- Out: Steve Sidwell (Brighton, loan)
- In: Jan Kirchhoff (Bayern Munich, undisclosed), Steven Harper (free agent), Dame N'Doye (Trabzonspor, loan), Lamine Kone (Lorient, undisclosed), Wahbi Khazri (Bordeaux, undisclosed)
- Out: Costel Pantilimon (Watford, undisclosed), Steven Fletcher (Marseille, loan)
- In: Alberto Paloschi (Chievo, undisclosed), Leroy Fer (QPR, loan)
- Out: Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle, £12m), Eder (Lille, loan)
- Out (notable): Andros Townsend (Newcastle, undisclosed), Federico Fazio (Sevilla, loan)
- In: Costel Pantilimon (Sunderland, undisclosed), Mario Suarez (Fiorentina, undisclosed)
- In: Sandro (QPR, loan), Alex Pritchard (Tottenham, loan)
- In: Sam Byram (Leeds, undisclosed), Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce, loan)
- Out (notable): Matt Jarvis (Norwich, undisclosed), Mauro Zarate (Fiorentina, undisclosed).