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Man United Players Must Share Burden of Starting New Era with Louis Van Gaal

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26:  Manager Louis van Gaal of Manchester United looks on during the Capital One Cup second round match between MK Dons and Manchester United at Stadium mk on August 26, 2014 in Milton Keynes, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images
Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentAugust 27, 2014

The focus after Manchester United's embarrassing League Cup exit at the hands of League One MK Dons was on Louis van Gaal.

It's to be expected. He's the new manager. He's the one trying to implement a "new philosophy," as he would put it.

And ultimately, he's the one who will be held accountable if this season ends in failure. 

The Dutchman has warned before that it will take three months before his team start to show signs of progress.

But one point from two Premier League games and a 4-0 defeat to a team in the third flight is perhaps even worse than he had imagined.

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26:  Manager Louis van Gaal of Manchester United looks on during the Capital One Cup second round match between MK Dons and Manchester United at Stadium mk on August 26, 2014 in Milton Keynes, England.  (Photo by Clive Maso
Clive Mason/Getty Images

There is, however, only so much he can do.

Yes, the system he is trying to introduce, with three central defenders and wing-backs, is different to what the players are used to.

But he can't plan for Jonny Evans gifting MK Dons their first goal. He can't compensate for Marnick Vermijl getting steamrollered for the fourth.

It's too early to say whether Van Gaal will succeed in teaching his players the intricacies of playing 3-5-2.

He may yet have to make changes if he hopes to fit Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Juan Mata and Angel Di Maria onto the same team.

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Javier Hernandez of Manchester United goes past Kyle McFadzean of Milton Keynes Dons during the Capital One Cup Second Round match between MK Dons and Manchester United at Stadium mk on August 26, 2014 in Milton Keynes,
Clive Mason/Getty Images

But it's not too soon to pass judgement on some of the players he trusted at Stadium MK on Tuesday night. 

For one or two, it may be the last time they pull on a United shirt. Many fans will argue that it's not before time.

If Van Gaal was hoping to drum up some interest in Anderson and Javier Hernandez by giving them a game five days before the transfer deadline, it will have done absolutely nothing.

Hernandez cannot complain that he doesn't start enough games when he doesn't take the chances that do come his way. 

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26:  Anderson of Manchester United in action during the Capital One Cup second round match between MK Dons and Manchester United at Stadium mk on August 26, 2014 in Milton Keynes, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Image
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Anderson, meanwhile, has had more lives than a bus-load of cats. The latest one was left limp and lifeless on the Stadium MK pitch.

It wouldn't be a surprise if both left before Monday's deadline.

After managing at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Van Gaal will be used to this level of scrutiny. 

He'll be aware that results like the humiliation in Milton Keynes won't be allowed to continue for three months.

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26:  Manager Louis van Gaal of Manchester United looks dejected with assistant Ryan Giggs during the Capital One Cup Second Round match between MK Dons and Manchester United at Stadium mk on August 26, 2014 in Milton Keynes
Clive Mason/Getty Images

But he's restricted in what he has to work with. And any system, new or not, will struggle to function if the players in it are not performing to the level that's required.

At least through the disappointment of the Capital One Cup exit was the promise of something better. 

Di Maria has arrived. And, with Marcos Rojo also likely to be in the team for the first time against Burnley on Saturday, it will feel like another new start.

The job of turning United around isn't Van Gaal's alone. The players must also take responsibility for kick-starting the new era.

Against MK Dons, they failed.

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