Match Preview: MK Dons vs Manchester United

It’s a strange time to be a Manchester United fan, I can’t figure out whether it’s more appropriate to be dreadfully pessimistic or strangely optimistic.

Anyone else in the same predicament? You have every right to be. The downsides became once again very apparent yesterday with a relatively dismal display of football from Louis van Gaal’s team. The midfield was once again outrun; the movement off the ball was verging on non-existent and the defence still looked absolutely petrified. It doesn’t take a Gary Neville to hypothesise a rocky few months coming up for Manchester United.

On the flip-side, the impending recruitment of Angel Di Maria is set to further galvanise this Manchester United team. He adds 3 things that were missing against Sunderland: speed, tenacity and immense stamina. With Rojo coming into the fold shortly along with Herrera, Shaw, Carrick and Evans, who are all set to return from injury in the not too distant future performances like yesterday are likely to be ameliorated.

Manchester United’s next game comes in the Capital One Cup (Mickey mouse cup) against MK Dons (Fake Wimbledon)

Although you could argue that this game has next to no significance, it is a must win tie. Louis van Gaal is yet to pick up a competitive win as Manchester United boss, tomorrow night provides a great opportunity for either respite or ridicule.

The upcoming game also provides a great opportunity for Louis van Gaal to distill some youth and energy into his side. The side that starts tomorrow will invariably have some unfamiliar faces; Ben Amos will come in for David De Gea, Michael Keane will make a start instead of Phil Jones, Reece James will take the place of Antonio Valenica, Ben Pearson or Joe Rothwell could definitely be in with a chance of coming into the team to replace Fletcher or Cleverley. Nick Powell will potentially take Juan Mata’s place behind the front two, which will in all likelihood contain James Wilson. The latter two have been training with the first team in the past week.

Manchester United’s injury list will undoubtedly result in the squad being worn thin for tomorrows encounter. Chris Smalling picked up an injury yesterday, which forced him to go off before half time. Jonny Evans remains a doubt due to fitness. Herrera, Lingard, Fellaini, Shaw, Carrick and Anderson are all still injured.

The opponents will provide a real contest tomorrow, under the leadership of Karl Robinson’s MK Dons Louis van Gaal can expect an energetic and dedicated display. Last season they finished in 10th on 60 points (14 away from off the playoffs)

They currently sit in 7th position with 7 points after 4 games, which included wins over Gillingham and Chesterfield. ‘The Dons’ possess a good stock of individual talent which has resulted in them being tipped for a playoff position finish this year. Their leader and rock at the heart of defence Dean Lewington is somewhat of a club legend. The central defender has been part of the team since its official inception in 2004; he has 428 caps and 15 goals under his belt at the age of 30. Ben Afobe has been in good nick for Fake Wimbledon this year, scoring 3 goals in all competitions. The striker is currently on loan from Arsenal. Their top scorer from last season, Patrick Bamford of Chelsea is no longer at the club.

Louis van Gaal has always advocated placing youth above reputation wherever he has managed across Europe, tomorrow will be a strong indicator towards the quality and maturity of the younger players in the squad. Should they deliver, expect to see them featuring against Burnley as well.