Louis van Gaal’s first task in the wake of Manchester United’s shock second round Capital One Cup defeat to MK Dons is to rebuild the team’s broken confidence, says former United defender David May.
United crashed out at the second stage for only the second time in two decades, shipping four goals to Karl Robinson’s side who had 12 attempts in contrast to United’s 17 but got twice as many on target - Will Grigg and Benik Afobe each bagging braces.
The humiliating loss came on the day that Angel di Maria confirmed his £59.7m move to Old Trafford and boss Van Gaal must now decide whether to hand the winger his debut against Burnley on Saturday.
United have yet to win in the Premier League, having drawn with Sunderland and lost at home to Swansea on the opening day of the season, placing the Dutch manager’s 3-5-2 philosophy under intense scrutiny.
But May, who made 118 appearances for United from 1994-2003, told Sky Sports that Van Gaal needs his team – which included experience players like Anderson, Javier Hernandez and Jonny Evans on Tuesday - to show more fight if they are to get on the winning track.
“From start to finish, MK Dons were absolutely brilliant. They got in their faces and United couldn’t live with it,” he reflected.
“When you’ve got international players putting in performances like that for United, it’s just not good enough. But fair play to MK Dons, they deserved every single little bit of that.
“I think van Gaal will be a little bit shell-shocked after that because they’ve been beaten convincingly. There is a lot of work to be done – and it’s not going to be done in a month, it’s going to be done over a certain amount of time and we’ve got to stick by the philosophy of what he says.
“You have to look at the senior pros. There were two debuts for two young lads [Saidy Janko and Reece James] and you have to give them credit because they tried their best. James Wilson came on and I thought he was one of the highlights.
“It’s the other players who have to step up to that mark. The worrying thing is they didn’t. Louis Van Gaal will have learnt a hell of a lot from not just the young lads but also the senior pros who have played.”
Although United can still recover to mount a strong challenge for the Premier League, May admitted that the FA Cup is now their only realistic chance of silverware this season.
“The good thing is that it starts in January, so we’ve got a few months to work at it,” May quipped.
“It’s all about building confidence because that will be shot right now. We’ve got a game against Burnley on Saturday and we’ve got to go there and get three points.”
United’s plight could have been worse after MK Dons had a strong penalty claim against Evans turned down on 50 mins, May admitting “it was a nailed on penalty”.
But that could not take the gloss of a famous night for the club in front of 26,696 fans - the largest ever crowd at stadium:MK.
This is only the third time that the club have beaten Premier League opposition in the League Cup and the fifth time that the club has gone beyond the second round in the competition.