United, under strength but featuring international footballers David De Gea, Jonny Evans, Anderson, Javier Hernandez, Shinji Kagawa and Daniel Welbeck in the starting XI, were destroyed by the League One side, just a couple of hours after signing Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid for a British record £59.7m.
Afterwards Van Gaal appeared flustered as he attempted to defend his team selection.
“It’s a matter of making errors at the wrong moment," he said. "When you see the goals against us I believe they were big errors in the build-ups.
“Once it was 0-2 it is very difficult to come back in the game. In the second half we created a lot of chances but we didn’t have the luck to score. But at least we created a lot of chances.
MK Dons - Manchester United
“We took a lot of risks to change the system in one-on-ones; the spaces were big and the (MK Dons) manager anticipated this very well by bringing on a forward.
“You have to analyse the problem and take your measures. It’s risky to change (the team).
“You mustn’t forget we had nine injuries and a very young team. You cannot expect more of players. We were also unlucky because they scored from our errors, quickly.”
This humiliating result means that, after a hugely encouraging pre-season, Van Gaal’s United have not won any of their three competitive matches, losing twice and drawing once.
All three bad results have come against teams United would ordinarily expect to dismiss; and the performances have been dreadful.
It is clear that, having apparently adapted to Van Gaal’s 3-5-2 in the summer, the players are unable to cope with the pressure of executing the system in a competitive environment; it is also clear that the existing personnel remain very low on confidence, while there are huge gaps in the squad, particularly in defence.
This is up there with Real Madrid's 'Alcorconazo' five years back, when a lower league team beat them 4-0 in the Cup. That spelled the end of Guti's career at Real. Some this the XI that were hammered by MK Dons will never play for the club again; some of the youngsters will have to lick their wounds and rebuild their careers on loan at lower league clubs.
But perhaps the most worrying thing about the night was Van Gaal’s wounded post-match comments. He said it was a "young" team, but six of the XI are full internationals and four were at the World Cup this summer.
And to conclude that they were “unlucky” and that “at least we created a lot of chances” was spookily reminiscent of his predecessor, David Moyes.
WHAT THE MEDIA SAID
James Ducker (The Times £): Ángel Di María had claimed shortly before kick-off last night that Manchester United were the only club in the world he would have left Real Madrid to join. After this abject humiliation at the hands of MK Dons, the Argentina midfielder could be forgiven for checking the small print on his new £200,000-a-week contract to see if there is an escape clause in there somewhere. The only saving grace for United’s new £59.7 million signing is that he did not have to witness the capitulation. This was supposed to be a good-news day for United. Instead, it will be remembered as the day when they smashed the British transfer record — and were then obliterated by a team from Sky Bet League One who have been in existence for only a decade and whose side costs less than Wayne Rooney earns in a week.
The Sun back page
Henry Winter (Telegraph); By the end of a shameful, shambolic evening for Manchester United, the MK Dons fans were crowing “you’re not famous any more”. United are not frightening any more, not organised any more, not confident any more. United are certainly not in the Capital One Cup any more. They are out before Manchester City are even in. This will be remembered by United as the game of shame, a game when their followers turned up in huge numbers but their players didn’t.
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