Until suffering what looks to be a horrific leg break against PSV, Luke Shaw had been not only been Manchester United's most impressive player, but one of the form players in England. Solid defensively, lightning quick, and willing to take risks going forward in attack. So of course, because life is cruel and unfair, United fans were robbed of Shaw's talent just as he was starting to showcase it. The lesson here is that in order to avoid crushing disappointment, never, ever allow yourself to be hopeful about anything. But for better or worse, life goes on, and United will need to find a solution to the problem of Shaw's long-term absence. Here are five solutions, ranked in descending order of acceptability.
1. Play Daley Blind at Left-Back
Last season, while Shaw was battling various niggling injuries and apparently having pizza for dinner every night, Blind finished the season as the preferred option at left-back. Blind - the world's weakest and slowest professional footballer - is the closest that United have to a like-for-like replacement. That said, Blind's shift to left-back in tonight's match to accommodate a rusty Marcos Rojo was nothing short of disastrous.
2. Play Marcos Rojo at Left-Back
Blind and Chris Smalling have formed a surprisingly effective partnership in the center of defense. Smalling has been the one getting all the rave reviews, but Blind has been just as impressive. Blind may a more natural fit at left-back than Rojo is, but the Smalling-Blind axis is the best that United have had at the back in years. Playing Rojo in a wider position at least allows the spine of the defense to remain intact.
3. Sign Patrice Evra in January
Juventus signed the highly rated Brazilian left-back Alex Sandro over the summer, and even though Evra is an important member of the Bianconeri, United should try to tempt Juve into a sale. Evra is obviously a Top Red and wonderful man, and would add some much needed leadership and experience to the backline. His legs may not be what they were, but he's still miles better than Blind or Rojo. There would be no settling in period required, and he could even get his old squad number back. Get on the line to Turin, Woodward, and bring our Pat home.
4. Cancel the Bloody Season
What's the point? Shaw was one of the few sources of excitement in a largely joyless season so far - arguably United's biggest attacking threat from the wings - and now his season is likely over. Van Gaal finally picked an attacking team (by accident, as injuries left him no choice), and within minutes, the football gods had snatched all the fun away. Between the disruptive effect of replacing Shaw and van Gaal's usual baffling and ruinous substitutions, the second half was a sorry mess. Seven more months of that? No thank you.
5. Switch to a 3-5-2 Formation
Oh god, no.