Manchester United chiefs are prepared to veto Jose Mourinho's transfer targets for a second transfer window in a row despite the Portuguese coach's criticism of the club's summer business, sources have told ESPN FC.
Mourinho is hopeful of having money to spend in January with a new centre-back top of his shopping list. Milan Skriniar, Alessio Romagnoli and Nikola Milenkovic are among the candidates being considered.
However, United are prepared to pull the plug on any deal they believe is not in their long-term interests.
The club were reluctant to pursue Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng in the summer because of concerns over the German's injury record, while a potential deal for Yerry Mina, who eventually moved from Barcelona to Everton, was scrapped because of fees demanded by the Colombian's representatives.
Harry Maguire was deemed too expensive while questions were raised about Toby Alderweireld because the Belgian will be 30 this season and his refusal to sign a new contract at Tottenham means he will be available for a cut-price fee at the end of the season.
United are plotting structural changes to improve the way they recruit players which could mean the appointment of a technical director in the future.
But with those plans likely to be implemented only after Mourinho's reign, it means the 55-year-old faces the same challenges to sign the players he wants as he did in the summer.
Mourinho has been critical of United's summer business and suggested he is now a "head coach" rather than a manager.
He has also praised Everton and Juventus for their ambition in the transfer market in recent weeks and repeatedly hinted his team will find this season difficult because of a lack of investment.
After finishing second last season, United are currently eighth in the Premier League table and have won just six of their 14 games in all competitions.
Sources have told ESPN FC that United are willing to spend in January, despite an acceptance that the mid-season window can be a difficult time for clubs looking to buy players, but only if the right deal presents itself.
Mourinho is hoping a focus on younger targets -- Skriniar, Romagnoli and Milenkovic are all 23 or under -- will improve his chances of bringing one to Old Trafford.