Manchester United’s embarrassing 4-0 defeat at the hands of lowly MK Dons in just the second round of the League Cup is conclusive proof of the complete lack of depth available to United manager Louis van Gaal.
Here we look at five players who van Gaal most definitely was not expecting to let him down against an average third-tier side.
The most useful thing Javier Hernandez can do for Manchester United is accept a move to Juventus as part of the Arturo Vidal deal, if reports are to be believed.
The 26-year-old striker has scored big goals in the Premier League against the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal, and as a Mexico international scored against Argentina and France in the 2010 World Cup, before his move to Manchester United.
And yet against a League One team in MK Dons – who aren’t exactly the best in England’s third-tier – Chicharito was shockingly ineffective.
In his first season at United, the Mexican made his name as a goal-poacher with brilliant movement to get behind defences and score the tap-ins that look easy but take an intelligent footballer to get in the right places at the right time.
But on Tuesday night, none of those quick, imaginative runs were on display, just as they haven’t been since the moment Sir Alex Ferguson walked out the door.
His understanding with Danny Welbeck has also disintegrated, perhaps because they are part of different cliques at Carrington and in the Old Trafford dressing room.
And when his golden chance came knocking on 78 minutes – which in itself proves how useless Hernandez was throughout the match – he decided to try and poke the ball in with the outside of his right foot, despite having all of the requisite space to trap the ball and produce a calm finish past David Martin, the MK Dons goalkeeper.
It’s that poor decision-making, combined with his lack of effort and movement, which could well have cost Javier Hernandez his Manchester United career.
Danny Welbeck showed some fight in the game, and would no doubt have got on the scoresheet had there not been a load of inexperienced kids providing the service from midfield.
Hernandez however was the complete antithesis, and even the young James Wilson looked a million times better than the Mexican.
After letting down Louis van Gaal yet again, surely his chances are up. It’s got to be curtains for Chicharito.
To have an article published in the Daily Mail describing the fall from grace of a Manchester United player after a match against a League One team just shows how shockingly poor Anderson was against MK Dons.
From a United perspective when in possession, the game was crying out for a leader in midfield, a man who would demand the ball and take it forward, skipping past players and bellowing at teammates to make runs and create options.
And off the ball, the Red Devils desperately lacked that midfielder who would bust a gut to get back and help the defence.
Never before has a Manchester United player looked so out of place wearing the shirt has Anderson did on Tuesday night at the MK Stadium.
Not only did he fail to inspire going forward, but defensively he played a big part in all four goals United conceded.
For Will Grigg’s first, while Jonny Evans made the mistake, Anderson was the nearest man to Grigg and when Evans committed the error, the Brazilian should’ve reacted and ran back to pressure the MK Dons striker.
Instead he just jogged back to goal a little and saw the ball go into the back of the net – the sign of a man who simply didn’t give a shit.
Although it must be said for the second goal Anderson did initially react to the danger, and tracked back to cover the run of Grigg.
Trouble is, despite two looks over his shoulder to see where Grigg was, Anderson lost his man completely and gifted the striker an easy tap-in.
That’s the main symptom right there of a player who has virtually lost of all his ability as a top level footballer.
The sooner he leaves Manchester United the better.
For an established member of the Manchester United first-team, a man who has been an integral part of the defence for many seasons and has won nine trophies in over 180 appearances for the club, Jonny Evans was atrocious against MK Dons.
His thoughtless mistake – which was meant to be a pass to Anderson – costed his team greatly, with the error not just leading to a goal but also massively knocking the confidence of all the youngsters around him, who had been looking more dominant up until that point.
That attempted pass shows exactly how complacent United’s attitude was in the game. In the Premier League, no centre-back would attempt something that risky.
In the second half Evans was lucky not to concede a penalty, and for the second goal he should have stopped the cross coming into the penalty area in the first place. Again he was complacent.
Overall a night to forget for Evans, and one that has almost certainly seen him lose out to Marcos Rojo for a place in the back three.
As a youngster, Louis van Gaal will probably expect Michael Keane to make mistakes.
But not like the one he made for MK Dons’ second goal. It was his lazy attempted pass to Andreas Pereira which was intercepted and allowed the Dons to score.
As van Gaal will no doubt point out to Keane in excruciating detail – with Ryan Giggs and Albert Stuivenberg probably piling on – misplacing that pass in such a sloppy fashion, in the position he was in, is one of the biggest cardinal sins of his philosophy and the 3-5-2 formation.
Out on the flank as the right-sided centre-back to allow the wingback to push forward, Keane was in one of the two places on the pitch (the other being in central defence) where he should definitely not give the ball away.
And yet he did, and found out to his detriment why giving the ball way in that position can be oh-so-deleterious.
If he needs it explained again – conceding possession in that position gives the opposition the most ideal position on the pitch to launch a counter-attack, and on top of that makes it much easier for them to score as they’re facing an exposed defence which is missing a man.
Of course Anderson could’ve saved his blushes if he actually knew how to man-mark, but such is the Brazilian’s fall from grace that as a defensive midfielder he can’t even read the run of a goal-shy, out-of-favour League One forward.
If Keane was competing with Tyler Blackett for a first-team place, then after that mistake to end all mistakes as far as Louis van Gaal is concerned, he has most certainly lost out now.
A loan move to a Championship club (it’s highly doubtful any Premier League team would trust him in the heart of their defence) now surely beckons.
Despite the fact Manchester United clearly needed more energy, pace and directness – all things Zaha offers – against MK Dons, the fact that van Gaal felt the winger/striker wouldn’t be able to make a difference shows that his time is up.
Even before a ball was kicked, Wilfried Zaha failed his Louis van Gaal audition.