Man Utd humbled by MK Dons – a penny for Moyes's thoughts
Van Gaal 'not shocked' by upset and demands more time, but Angel di Maria might be a bit concerned
MK Dons 4 Manchester United 0. Milton Keynes has few claims to fame, other than its concrete cows, but as of today it has a new boast: the humiliation of Manchester United by an MK Dons side in what will rank as one of the biggest upsets in the history of English football.
United may try and explain their astonishing 4-0 thrashing by pointing to a weakened team and a lack of motivation for the second round of the Capital One cup. But the fact remains they were ripped apart by a League One side whose desire and teamwork were in stark contrast to that of a disjointed and disinterested United side, which featured several international stars such as Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck, David de Gea and Shinji Kagawa.
The result was all the more embarrassing for United because it was preceded by the unveiling of Angel Di Maria, the Argentine winger signed from Real Madrid in a British transfer record of £59.7m. That took United's summer spending spree to £131.7m, yet they have still haven't won a game this season.
Defeated at home by Swansea on the opening day of the Premier League, unable to beat Sunderland at the weekend and now humbled by a side who drew 0-0 with Coventry in the third tier of English football at the weekend. These are dark days for United and Louis van Gaal, the man brought in to clean up a mess for which many blamed David Moyes.
A penny for Moyes's thoughts as he sat in front of his television screen last night. He was sacked in April after barely ten months as United manager, but his supporters always claimed that the Scot had inherited from Alex Ferguson a squad on the wane because of a lack of big signings in the previous two seasons. He needed time to rebuild United, but he wasn't given it. Instead the board sacked him and hired 63-year-old Van Gaal, who arrived with much fanfare but has overseen only failure.
"I am not shocked," said Van Gaal when asked about the 4-0 result. "I know what can happen, a new team is not built in one month." Though he conceded MK Dons had "played very well", he added somewhat churlishly: "They had a little bit of luck with the goals."
In truth MK Don's goals were more about their determination and United's slack defending than proper luck. Captain Johnny Evans had a night to forget, but then so did the entire side, including the six internationals fielded by the visitors, whose first shot on target did not come until the 72nd minute.
Everyone in the Dons side deserves credit for their role in the Milton Keynes Massacre, but in particular their pair of two-goal heroes - Will Grigg and Benik Afobe, the latter on loan from Arsenal.
Supporters of Afobe's parent club must have been almost as beside themselves with joy as MK Dons fans as news of the rout spread. Almost exactly three years ago United destroyed Arsenal 8-2 in the Premier League, it looked like the end of the road for the Gunners but now it is they who are gloating.
Tonight at the Emirates Arsenal should beat Turkish side Besiktas and progress to the first round of the Champions League for the 17th consecutive season. Judging by last night's performance, Europe's showpiece competition looks to be beyond the reach of United for at least another season, as Van Gaal intimated on Tuesday night.
"For the fans, it is very difficult to still believe in the philosophy of Louis van Gaal," he admitted. "But you have to do that because I am here and I am here to build up a new team. The process needs time."
Angel di Maria, who won the Champions League with Real Madrid last season, may be wondering what exactly he has signed up for.