Manchester United's nightmare start to the 2014-15 season continued on Tuesday, as the team suffered an embarrassing 4-0 loss at the hands of League One side MK Dons in the Capital One Cup.
William Grigg and Benik Afobe each scored twice to give the club from Linton Keynes arguably their greatest win in team history against an uninspired Red Devils unit.
United fielded a bunch of youngsters and part-time players, but regardless, the resulting play on the pitch was close to unacceptable. Jonny Evans took the brunt of the blame on social media, and rightfully so, as the veteran Northern Irishman put in a dreadful performance.
He gave the ball away in a poor position to gift the hosts the opening goal and struggled with his positioning all night.
Javier Hernandez also contributed little to the side, and the Mexican looks like a likely candidate to leave Old Trafford before the end of the summer transfer window.
Manchester Evening News' Rob Dawson summed up the team's performance in 140 characters or less:
Can understand younger players struggling. But there were enough senior pros playing to ensure that didn't happen. Awful performance.— Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonMEN) August 26, 2014
Manager Louis van Gaal was widely criticised for his tactics on social media, with some fans giving him a pass due to a lack of effort from his veteran players. The Dutch manager didn't see things that way, however, per The Associated Press' Rob Harris:
Van Gaal on 4-0 humiliation: "I have seen them trying to their utmost best. You can't expect more of the players"— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) August 26, 2014
He also saw his team create a lot of chances:
Van Gaal on 4-0 loss to MK Dons: "We didn't have the luck to score but at least we have created a lot of chances"— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) August 26, 2014
As shared by the club's Twitter feed, he asked the fans to be patient:
Van Gaal added: "I hope the fans maintain their confidence in the club and in our philosophy because that philosophy takes time." #MUFClive— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 26, 2014
On the goals his squad conceded, he acknowledged his players simply made too many glaring errors:
Louis van Gaal blames "big" mistakes in the build-up to MK Dons' goals. "It was a matter of making errors at the wrong moments." #MUFClive— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 26, 2014
The 3-5-2 system he has tried to incorporate has proved ineffective so far, with the players having limited time to adapt. Van Gaal claimed he could change his formation following the arrival of Angel Di Maria (as reported by the club's official website), per Man Utd Update:
While reporters kept pressing for quotes on individual performances, Van Gaal refused to go into the subject. Bleacher Report's Rob Blanchette liked that approach:
Happy LvG didn't smash the team in his post match interview - no need to create an additional news story. They'll know his thoughts. #MUFC— Rob B. (@_Rob_B) August 26, 2014
While it's too soon to speak of a crisis at Old Trafford (it was only the Capital One Cup, after all), all of the positive energy surrounding the club following the arrival of Di Maria seemed to have vanished after 90 poor minutes against MK Dons.
The Dutch manager still has a lot of work to do before the Red Devils can start righting the ship, starting with settling on a formation that will prove successful given the players that are available.
The last days of the 2014 summer transfer window will likely prove vital, as the current squad simply isn't up to the task of running Van Gaal's 3-5-2 system the way he envisions it.