LONDON – In just his third match in charge of Manchester United, Louis van Gaal oversaw one of the most humiliating losses in the club’s illustrious history on Tuesday.
The record 20-time English champions timidly capitulated to MK Dons, losing 4-0 to the third-tier club in the second round of the League Cup.
Hired to halt the decline under David Moyes in the post-Alex Ferguson era, Van Gaal had already endured a loss and a draw in his first two Premier League matches before one of three possible routes to silverware ended in Milton Keynes.
A second-string United was playing in the League Cup second round for the first time since 1995 because Moyes failed to qualify for Europe during his only season in charge. He was replaced by the coach who led the Netherlands to third place at the World Cup.
Although Van Gaal made 10 changes from the team that drew at Sunderland, several international players including Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez and Shinji Kagawa were deployed.
Kagawa’s hopes of forcing his way into the first-team reckoning took a fresh blow after the Japan midfielder suffered concussion.
Kagawa appeared to clash with Darren Potter and suffered a bloodied nose in the process. The former Borussia Dortmund star had treatment and played on for a short while before being replaced by Adnan Januzaj.
Van Gaal confirmed that Kagawa had suffered concussion.
Van Gaal kept his cool in public after the game and did not tear into his team’s performance, despite poor defending that gifted goals to the Dons and the fact that United needed around 70 minutes to manage a shot on target.
“We didn’t have the luck to score but at least we have created a lot of chances,” Van Gaal said. “You don’t have to forget we have nine injuries and we had a very young team, I have seen them trying to their utmost best. You can’t expect more of the players.”
Van Gaal urged fans to trust him to turn around the fortunes of a team that won the Premier League by 11 points in 2013 before Ferguson retired after more than 26 years in charge.
“(Supporters) have to believe in our philosophy,” Van Gaal said. “We are building up a team and you can’t make in one month not in one year of course. It’s very disappointing but I hope they shall maintain their confidence in the club and in our philosophy because that philosophy takes time.”
A United side featuring David Beckham lost 3-0 to third tier side York at this stage in 1995, going out of the then two-legged second round 4-3 on aggregate.
Nineteen years on, the humbling result took the gloss off United’s pre-match announcement that it had broken the British transfer record by signing Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid for £59.7 million.
“You have to analyze the problem and then you have to take your matches,” Van Gaal said. “We know exactly what we are doing.”
Eto’o joins Everton
Liverpool, England — Everton strengthened its attacking options by signing Samuel Eto’o on a two-year deal on Tuesday after the striker was released by Premier League rival Chelsea.
The 33-year-old Cameroon international, who scored 12 goals in 35 matches in his only season at Chelsea, is available to make his debut against the west London club on Saturday.
“I was impressed about the hunger he still has,” Everton manager Roberto Martinez said. “For someone who has achieved nearly everything, he still has the desire he had at 15 when he went to Spain and showed what he could do. For many reasons he has got a point to prove.
“We are very excited and I think Everton is the perfect home for him. The fans will make him ready and feel sharp but we have got to be a bit patient with the fitness levels and make sure he is back to his best.”