A world class manager in Louis van Gaal, a transfer record broken with Angel Di Maria... then humiliation to MK Dons
‘Bring back David Moyes’ sang the delirious MK Dons fans, and you could forgive them the wicked sarcasm last night.
Yes, Manchester United had some dreadful results under their much-maligned former manager but even Moyes could argue that there were few performances under him that were anywhere near as bad as last night’s humiliating Capital One Cup capitulation to MK Dons.
Who would have thought that, with a new, world-class manager in Louis van Gaal — and only a few hours after breaking the British transfer record to land Angel di Maria from Real Madrid — United would crash 4-0 to the League One minnows?
And on a night when there was good, bad and ugly, Northern Ireland internationals provided the first two of those.
Five-times capped Will Grigg scored either side of half time — the first after a real howler from his international colleague Jonny Evans — to put the Dons into a commanding 2-0 lead and was deservedly named man of the match.
This will obviously be viewed, however, as a United defeat rather than a Dons victory.
And on a night when they plumbed new depths, a clearly rattled Van Gaal offered only this: "We are building up a team and you cannot make (it) in one month, not in one year.
Of course it's very disappointing to lose like this but I hope they (the fans) shall maintain their confidence in the club and in our philosophy because that philosophy takes time.”
Van Gaal added: "You have to analyse the problem and then you have to take your matches and I have done that and I think the changes to the team we made tonight (ten of them) were good.
"But it's also risky to change and to play one against one and therefore Milton Keynes could score.
"You don't have to forget that we have nine injuries and we have a very young team. I have seen them trying to do their utmost best.”
He added: "So more, you cannot expect of players. We were also unlucky because they scored out of our errors at once and then you are always behind."
Dons boss Karl Robinson admitted he was as shocked as anybody after watching his League One team claim a stunning win.
"I'm a little bit shocked to be walking off and seeing the scoreline," he said.
"It's ridiculous, it's something that dreams are made of for these players.
"We work hard here and you've seen a youthful energy in the team."
The United team was largely changed and missing many of its stars.
Evans had a nightmare return to the United first team, but Robinson was eager for his players to get due credit.
"They've got the superstars in the side and they're the ones that are in the public eye on a daily basis, an hourly basis to an extent, we're not," he added.
"So it's always easy to pick negatives in people than push the positives on the other people.
"I think my players deserve an awful lot of credit tonight. The football club does and Milton Keynes does.
"This is a game for Milton Keynes as a city."
United, meanwhile, may attempt to use a makeweight in any deal to sign Arturo Vidal from Juventus, with their concerns about the player’s fitness likely to make a straight cash deal difficult to reach.
Shinji Kagawa, whom manager Louis van Gaal pointedly declared at the weekend had been incapable of operating in a new designated central position, could possibly be used to secure a breakthrough with the 40m euros (£31.5m) the Turin are side are likely to want seemingly unrealistic. With AC Milan’s Nigel de Jong not on United’s list, Vidal appears to be United’s only option, though the Ajax player Daley Blind – another possible eleventh hour target – can also operate in midfield.
Juventus have not asked about Javier Hernandez as a possible bargaining chip.
Van Gaal declared last night that the club’s new British record fee signing Angel di Maria would allow the club to begin striking fear into opposition defences once again.
United declared that the agreed fee for Di Maria was £59.7m though sources at Real Madrid last night indicated that with add ons the figure would rise to by a further 9m euros (£7.1m) to £66.8m
The club announced shortly before the side kicked off their first League Cup 2nd Round match since 1995, at Milton Keynes, that image rights and personal terms had been agreed, making di Maria a United player.
Van Gaal said of the player: “He is a tremendously fast and incisive left-footed player who puts fear into the most accomplished defence. His dribbling skills and his ability to take on and beat opponents are a joy to watch. He is an excellent addition to the team.”
Di Maria insisted that United were “the only club that I would have left Real Madrid for” – a remarkable statement, considering that he was the outstanding player in last season’s Champions League final and United are not even in this season’s Europa League competition. Wages can have that kind of effect on a player. The Argentine will command around £200,000-a-week.