Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will look to bolster his Manchester United forward line in January after admitting there were no viable replacements for Romelu Lukaku or Alexis Sanchez over the summer.
However, Lukaku was sold to Inter Milan while Sanchez was allowed to join the Serie A giants on a season-long loan, with United's inability to bring in a striker leaving Solskjaer short of attacking options for this campaign.
The United manager said: "When we let Alexis and Romelu go, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that it's forwards that next time we're going to recruit. We're looking for some creativity and goals.
"But there's no point getting players in that you're not 100 per cent sure about because when you get players in, you need the right ones that are going to stay here for a longer period.
"That's the long-term thinking that we have to show. I can't think 'I need a player because this is my reputation'. No, it's the club.
"There were strikers (available) but they weren't the ones we wanted. We couldn't get the one we wanted."
United's decision to allow two experienced Premier League campaigners to move on has been compounded by injuries to Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, both of whom are unlikely to feature for the visit of Arsenal on Monday.
Since thumping Chelsea 4-0 on the opening weekend of the season, United have scored on only four more occasions in their subsequent five top-flight fixtures.
Solskjaer admitted their struggles to find the back of the net is a cause for concern, as he said: "We need to score more goals, definitely. We're working on improving the relationships, the patterns, the understanding.
"We've started at one end with the foundations, I think that we've done great defensively but we're not happy with the return going forward."
United have won just two of their opening six league matches and are already 13 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool, albeit having played one less match.
Asked whether he still sees United as a top-four side, Solskjaer replied: "I think so, yeah.
"The top two last season (Manchester City and Liverpool) were too far ahead from the rest of us. I think we should be in and around the places behind there.
"Chelsea are going through a similar period of rebuilding; Arsenal Tottenham, us. You've got Leicester, there are loads of teams wanting those positions and that's where we'll be in and around."
United's modest start to the season has led to scrutiny on Solskjaer's methods but the unrepentant Norwegian said: "You evaluate every single game and you look through the games but I'm not doubting myself.
"If I doubt myself then I think the rest of the world would, as well. We have loads of discussions and we believe in what we're doing."
Neither is the former striker constantly seeking the wisdom of the great Sir Alex Ferguson, with Solskjaer adding: "I've got a great staff, we're not going to bring Sir Alex back up again here now.
"Of course I speak to Sir Alex but it's been a while since I've spoken to him."