Manchester United were humbled once again as they were bounced from the League Cup in just the second round in a 4-0 loss to third-tier Milton Keynes Dons on Tuesday afternoon. Will Grigg scored twice and Benik Afobe got the third and fourth for the home team, who sit in seventh place in League 1, making them the 51st-ranked team in England and Wales.
As is customary in the early rounds of the League Cup, United deployed lots of reserves and kids. Still, there was plenty of quality in the lineup in the form of starting goalkeeper David De Gea, defender Jonny Evans, midfielders Anderson and Shinji Kagawa and forwards Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Danny Welbeck. Especially against the middling Dons, who became the rare European team to be relocated when they left Wimbledon for another outskirt across London a decade ago.
Things started fairly ominously for United, when Kagawa, who is quickly becoming one of their biggest transfer flops of all time, had to leave the game with a bloody nose in the 20th minute. Not long thereafter, Grigg was allowed to score after Evans passed the ball right into Ben Reeves’s feet. Reeves, in the first of his three assists, slipped in Grigg, who had a wide-open net to score on.
Evans, whose nightmarish game came to symbolize the form of his entire team, handled the ball in his own box in the 50th minute but they were spared the penalty kick then. It was telling for United’s form on the day that it took them a full hour to forge a real scoring chance. Nick Powell had twice taken a somewhat threatening shot, but it wasn’t until Welbeck ripped a shot just wide that they put a scare into Milton Keynes.
A few minutes later, Grigg put the game away when he got his brace. Yet another bad United giveaway was delivered to him and he finished an easy chance, beating Evans to the ball and chesting it past the De Gea. Next, it was Afobe’s turn to undress Evans when he ran around him and slid the ball under the hapless Spanish goalkeeper.
At length, Adnan Januzaj pinged a shot off the Dons’ post, but as if to emphasize the point, Afobe almost immediately ran through the entire United defense, easily evading every challenge, and rolled home his incredulous side’s fourth of the game.
So ended a stupefying night, in which United swirled further into their downward spiral. Under new manager Louis van Gaal, brought in to fix all that had been broken under his predecessor David Moyes, United were supposed to recover their pride and dominance. Instead, they have taken just a point from their first two league games against unintimidating foes like Sunderland and Swansea City. Now they have been humiliated in the humblest competition they will enter all year, on the day in which they broke their transfer record with the £59.7 million ($99 million) purchase of Argentina midfielder Angel Di Maria.
There isn’t yet an end in sight to the crisis in Manchester.