The less important cup games for the biggest sides are always a great chance for the fringe players to leave the manager with no choice but to play them in the league again.
At the very least you expect some real energy and enthusiasm, so it’s amazing how often you see a dull performance with no ambition or life about it at all.
Man United demonstrated this perfectly against Luton tonight as they slowly passed the ball from side to side and made to easy for their Championship opponents to sink back into their shape and look comfortable.
The score line is misleading because they only put the game to bed when they brought three of their best players on, while the goal in the first half came from the penalty spot.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s problem last season was the lack of quality outside the starting XI, and this performance has only made that even more obvious.
In a strange way he might be pleased that the performance was so flat because it demonstrates to the board yet again that they need to help him out in the transfer market.
There are a couple of bright spots with Dean Henderson impressing and Donny van de Beek also looked like the only outfield player who had any kind of imagination or progressive thoughts about his play.
Jesse Lingard tried hard but his lack of quality was clear to see, while Odion Ighalo looked slow and his touch let him down on too many occasions so he can’t be anything more than an impact sub for the rest of his loan spell.
Matic and Mata did what they do by keeping hold of the ball and looked fine, but there was nothing about their performances to suggest they improve the starting XI at this point.
You could argue that Eric Bailly’s last ditch efforts suggest he’s a better starting option than Victor Lindelof just now, but you also know that he’s too rash and will get caught out in the Premier League sooner rather than later.
This game demonstrated yet again that transfers are needed at Old Trafford, but doing deals for a fair price is only going to get harder as we approach the end of the transfer window.