23 October 2018   |  Last Updated 27-08-2014 10:13

      Nothing sweet about pick 'n' mix United

      After seeing Manchester United's realistic chances of silverware this season halved at MK Dons, roaming Red Tony Murphy reflects on an away day to forget. 


       Get your shrimps, midget gems AND your strawberry laaa-ces!


      Until this week, Manchester United hadn’t played at this stage of the League Cup since losing to York City in 1995. That tie saw an unbelievable 3-0 loss at Old Trafford. Tuesday night somehow surpassed that.


      It was quite quaint seeing pick ‘n’ mix stalls outside the ground. A very old fashioned enterprise in a surrounding that screams sterile modernity in quadrophonic sound. But, as charming as it was to see pick ‘n’ mix stalls outside the mk:stadium, the allure wore off rapidly when we saw the pick ‘n’ mix nature of United’s line up.


      Louis van Gaal said he was going to use two different teams for the games against Sunderland and MK Dons. Most Reds were surprised that van Gaal thought United had one decent side to put out, never mind two. After what we witnessed here, our surprise was vindicated.


      Fringe players were used and they were joined by Jonny Evans, Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck and due to rumoured extensive lobbying by Bem Brasil restaurants, Anderson turned out too. The hopes of United fans that Anderson had been deported were shown for the fallacy that we always feared it would be.


      While United can palm off the piss poor Nani to Sporting Lisbon for a season while paying his entire wages into the bargain, they can’t even get a club to take on Anderson in the same circumstances. It looks like United are stuck with him for another 12 months before his contract expires but don’t worry, we still have Nani for another three years once his loan finishes at the end of the season. 


      The only United player who walked off the pitch with any credit tonight was David de Gea.


      The seats allocated to Reds were in a stand that, according to my ticket didn’t actually have a name. In this regard, the stadium is ideal for the 8,461 regular clientele it regularly draws to its bland and souless surrounding. 


       United fans were put in the creatively named North Stand

       The local police and security were refreshingly polite and helpful in and around the ground. This was by some distance the best deal of the night for the United fans who had travelled to this town of roundabouts and trees.


      United didn’t have a shot on target until the 72 minute, by this time they were 3-0 down. In the 24th minute, Ben Reeves capitalised on a schoolboy error from Jonny Evans to feed Will Grigg to put MK Dons into the lead.


      From here on in United, who were already poor, somehow got even worse. In the 64th minute, soon after having a good penalty appeal turned down for a Jonny Evans handball, MK Dons scored again. United again gave the ball away, this time in the midfield to gift MK Dons a break. From the attack, Reeves again fed Grigg who chested the ball past de Gea to make the score 2-0.


      On 69 minutes, United yet again gave the ball away cheaply and, yet again, Reeves fed the goalscorer. This time Benik Afobe was the beneficiary.


      At this point I turned round to the lads I was with and said I’ll take 3-0. I feared something far worse due to the laughable incompetence of the United side. This was also the point that an exodus of mard arses left the stadium in the United section. With a bit of luck, these people will stay away from United aways in future and leave it to proper Reds to get the tickets.


      With seven minutes to go, following a half-hearted attempt to head the ball from Marnick Vermijl, Afobe won the ball near the 18 yard line. Afobe then ran through United’s defence like they were statues to make the score 4-0.


      The mood among Reds in the stadium was not anger by the time the score got to 4-0, more of resigned and rueful laughter than anything else.  Those fans that stayed sang an endless version of the calypso whilst the MK Dons fans, who were seeing their side beating Premier League opposition 4-0 sat there mute.


      I don’t know what passes for passion in that part of the world but having witnessed fans of the local club here, I have a feeling that an economic spreadsheet or maybe an accountants Christmas party is what really gets them going. It certainly isn’t football.


       United players in the pre match warm up. This was the best we played all night


      Since 1993, United have generally fielded a shadow side for League cup matches, especially in the early stages. United have come unstuck on the odd occasion but generally the fringe side would get knocked out and walk off the pitch with some dignity intact. Not this time.


      Losing 4-0 to a side two divisions below is as bad as it can get. The half-hearted incompetence of the United performance was a disgrace to the shirt that 6500 people had schlepped down the M6 and M1 to support.


      Under normal circumstances, with European football as well as league title contention to deal with, the League Cup is considered, correctly in my opinion, expendable.


      This season United are not burdened with any European football and nobody seriously believes that they have a chance of winning the title. This means that before we even get into September, United have only one feasible chance of silverware this season and our participation in that competition doesn’t even commence until January.


      For more from Tony Murphy read him at the Man Utd Fans blog - written direct from the terraces, home and away.

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