Manchester United lost 4-0 to MK Dons on Tuesday, but their younger players are not to blame.
Much has already been written about Manchester United’s humiliating 4-0 loss to MK Dons in the League Cup; and yet to blame the players for their abysmal showing would be the easy but wrong thing to do.
Some of the United men on show are very much to blame, but to tar everyone with the same brush would be foolish and potentially damaging for those youngsters who have been tipped to ultimately break through at Old Trafford.
Just as the side that crashed to an unexpected defeat against York City in 1995 but ultimately formed the foundations for unrivalled success learned from that loss, so the young players on show on Tuesday evening will take plenty from their humbling.
Players like Danny Welbeck, Anderson and Javier Hernandez may well ask questions of themselves. But the only man who should shoulder the blame for his young players failings is the manager.
Louis van Gaal persevered with his 3-5-2 formation despite United’s under-21s not adopting the same style this season. As a result, the likes of Saidy Janko, Marnick Vermijl, Reece James and Nick Powell were thrown into a style of play that only one – James – had experienced during pre-season – and in his case only for a single game.
Using the unfamiliar style away in a cup match in England when your side is sprinkled with inexperience invites only one thing – a drubbing that was more emphatic than anything David Moyes experienced during his much criticised spell.
Van Gaal let his young players down on Tuesday. This was their chance to shine and instead they were forced to learn an unfamiliar style in the midst of a lower league onslaught.
James Wilson and Andreas Pereira deserved better, both possessing the skill to have made the right kind of headlines last night had they been picked from the start and told to continue in the style they are accustomed to.
There is a time to learn, to experiment, and good things could still come from United’s latest defeat. But for those players who may not get another chance to show what they can do this season, one can only feel disappointed for them not by them.