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Aug 272014

MK Dons 4-0 Manchester United
1a7ab3c1 9918 4776 80d9 88e7c3229be4 620x372 Sad Submission in Milton KeynesMilton Keynes did not so much humiliate Manchester United as turn them into a bunch of sniveling, trembling milquetoasts. Atypical was this comment given to the London Evening Standard sports reporter Tim Nichols by the ‘best pal’ of one anonymous player. “Van Gaal stands on the sidelines and does a lot of shouting and bawling,” he said. “It’s been an eye opener and not what we expected at all. Sir Alex knew how to use the hairdryer but this is on full blast. The trouble is, it’s not working. United have stuck with old routines for many years and the changes are causing confusion.”

As Nichols has a relationship with Chris Smalling dating all the way back to Wycombe Wanderers days, it’s a fair bet that he’s the simpering grass, but, really, it’s of no matter who the gutless ingrate is. “Players have also become bemused by changes to their daily schedule, with new times set aside for training sessions and eating,” Nichols adds breathlessly.

Personally, I think our poor abused lads shouldn’t have to put up with this kind of embarrassment. The lads, especially the British ones, know that, as young millionaires, they don’t have to put up with this kind of verbal abuse. It’s very stressful playing for a big club and players like Tom Cleverley(25), Jonny Evans (26), Chris Smalling(24), Phil Jones (22), and Danny Welbeck (23), clearly feel that way too much is expected of them while they suffer desperately from the mountain of expectations hoisted upon their delicate shoulders by the club and fans alike. They all seem to be distracted by the idea of moving elsewhere and beginning anew. From my point of view, the time has come for them to join the jaded professionals like Javíer Hernandez, Anderson and Shinji Kagawa and the club-loving has-beens like Ashley Young, Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher in one grand, smile-and-don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-arse goodbye!

Only United’s goalkeeper David De Gea was retained from the team which started Sunday’s pathetic draw at Sunderland. Manager Luis Van Gaal’s 3-4-1-2 set up meant the Swiss Under-19 international Saidy Janko and Reece James made their first-team debuts as wing-backs on on either side of the midfield four, while Marnick Vermijl started only a second senior appearance on the left of the back three. Van Gaal’s attempt to field two attacking midfielders alongside a rusty Anderson may have been seen by the wily veteran as an opportunity for either one or both to show some ability to adapt and improvise against weak opponents; but, all it proved in realistic terms is that when Ander Herrera is not playing, United have no kind of creative midfield at all. Having taken turns starving Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie on Sunday, as well as strikers Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernández yesterday, it becomes as vividly clear as a swinging red neon axe that minus the promising young Basque, Manchester United possess no midfield at all. This is not the fault of David Moyes or Louis Van Gaal. This is the fault of at least eight years-worth of benign neglect.

It was bad luck in the 22nd minute when Kagawa had to be substituted for Januzaj after suffering a concussion as a result of a point-blank clash of heads with Darren Potter. Three minutes later, however, Jonny Evans, wandering around the penalty area in a sleepwalk, was under no stress whatsoever when he attempted a bizarre, short pass to (I think) his goalkeeper David De Gea The ball rolled to a visibly surprised Ben Reeves, who had all the time in the world to trap the ball and moxy enough to roll it across goal for Brentford loaner Will Grigg to steer into and empty net to put MK Dons up 1-0.8cf02eeb fcfd 46aa a19e e730425bb156 421x480 Sad Submission in Milton Keynes

Having fallen behind, United suddenly could do no right and, save for Nick Powell attempting to score from long distance and blasting way over the bar, United pretty much gave up the ghost for the rest of the half.

With Andreas Pereira substituting for Janko and Januzaj moved to the right. United were ridiculously lucky that the referee didn’t point to the penalty spot after Evans nonchalantly handled a Dean Bowditch attempt to cross. The luck didn’t last though as, 63 minutes in, the Dons’ substitute Daniel Powell and Dean Lewington doubled-up twice before sending Reeves streaking down the left flank. Reeves’ cross was right on the money for Grigg, who made smart work of chesting the spinning ball past De Gea. Seven minutes after that, after yet another botching of a defensive forward pass by Keane, a sweet little bit of ruthlessness involved Benik Afebe—another Arsenal loanee out to give United belly ache—who beat two players, almost lost it in a tackle, recovered and then fired home goal number three.

Ever more labored in the second half, it took until the game was 72 minutes in before United took their first true shot on target, a soft James Wilson effort which David Martin saved easily. The Dons goalie did even better to push away a Januzaj drive around the post ten minutes later.

Finally, with six minutes to go, Afebe, clearly smelling another goal, took advantage of a skittish Vermijl before he could make a pass, stole the ball and fired a smooth effort past a frozen De Gea to make it 4-0.

It was a sad night for Manchester United, but, ultimately, no better or worse than previous sad cup exits to Southend, and Leeds United. At any rate, having lost two out of his first three matches, Louis Van Gaal can now sharpen his axe before picking and choosing whose head he hacks off first. Perhaps now some of us may be regretting the rush to judgement which took place in the case of David Moyes. It’s easy to be an armchair manager, that’s for sure, or play Football manager on your computer.

Last but not least, congratulations to MK Dons’ youthful manager Karl Robinson. “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. Now we have to live up to our billing.”
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Ivor Irwin

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