Louis van Gaal will have hardly believed what he was watching on Sunday when his Manchester United were completely and utterly dismantled by a rampant Arsenal side brimming with pace, the Red Devils succumbing to a 3-0 defeat against the Gunners.
Aside from Arsenal's attacking exploits, there was much to blame for the way that United crumbled in an opening 20 minutes that featured each of Arsenal's goals, with their slow and lacklustre midfield duo of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick particularly overwhelmed by the occasion.
Both in their 30s, the pair like to have time on the ball - something only made possible when partnered with a vibrant and tireless defensive midfielder.
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What Van Gaal needed, therefore, was the youthful Morgan Schneiderlin to play alongside one of the aforementioned veterans.
The Frenchman is one of those players who blends into the midfield perhaps too well at times, with his performances often going completely under the radar, but his role in the team has provided much-needed stability - something that you cannot expect of Carrick at his age, nor Schweinsteiger who's more of the Paul Scholes mould.
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If there is one lesson that Van Gaal needs to learn, then, it's that the spine of the team needs immediate addressing. Not so going forward given Anthony Martial's emergence, but more their sloppy midfield and poor defence.
He also needs to address using Juan Mata and AnderHerrera in equal measure, especially when you consider that the latter is much better defensively and can always seem to poach the ball away from opponents' feet just at the right time.
If you consider for a moment that his best starting line-up includes David de Gea, Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind, Schneiderlin, Carrick or Schweinsteiger and Martial, Van Gaal can afford to rotate other positions and keep other players fresher and keener to perform when the get the chance.
The above, on paper, represents a solid spine, but they need to show much more than their showing at the Emirates Stadium to justify starting births. Dominant displays against mid-table sides is not good enough, especially in the midst of a title challenge - it's against the elite sides that counts.
It is still early in the season and it's clear that some players are still yet to hit form - Wayne Rooney being one of such players - but if they're going to muster and sustain any kind of title challenge, Van Gaal must be better prepared and equipped.
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