Nearly thirteen months ago, Louis van Gaal took his first tentative steps into the League Cup, England's second cup competition. It did not go well. His Manchester United side were scaled, boned, filleted and then pan fried in a little garlic butter by their opponents, noted club-stealers MK Dons.
The fallout at the time was largely superficial — everybody else in the country laughed themselves silly for a couple of weeks — but for those players involved, Van Gaal's wrath was great and the consequences were severe. Fourteen players that appeared that evening, and none of them ever played professional football again. So, with the League Cup back again this season, we thought we'd track down that lost side and find what they'd been up to since their careers collapsed.
David de Gea
Happily married and running a bespoke tailoring service in Madrid.
A curious case. We found out when researching this piece that Marnick Vermijl never actually existed. He was a tax dodge, a shell player whose presence on the books allowed the Glazer family to claim relief against a number of United's commercial expenses. Looking back, it probably wasn't a good idea to pick him.
Brand consultant for the Hershey Chocolate Company. Was arrested following an incident in a karaoke bar in December 2014, though the charges — offending public decency by singing "Meanwhile, Rick James" by Cake twenty-seven times in a row, changing the word "Rick" to "Reece" each time — were eventually dropped.
One of the sadder stories on this list, Anderson returned to his native Brazil and entered local politics. However, his fledgling career was undone when a former ally published a book attacking Anderson's reputation and alleging, among other things, that the former United midfielder had once, while at school, eaten an entire pig's head, including the skull. While Anderson denied the rumours, his every subsequent public appearance was dogged by pranksters wearing pig costumes and making "oink! oink!" noises, and his credibility was ruined.
Still turns up to Carrington on a daily basis, partakes in training, and appears to consider himself a Manchester United player. Somebody would have said something, but by the time anybody noticed it had already been a week, and now it would just be really awkward.
Historical re-enactments at Jorvik Viking Centre. Not as a job, he just really enjoys them. He's making his own axe using only authentic materials and methods. He calls it "Skullcruncher".
COULD STILL DO A JOB HE JUST NEEDS TO BE PICKED IN HIS BEST POSITION AT THE RIGHT TIME AGAINST THE RIGHT OPPOSITION WITH THE RIGHT PLAYERS AROUND HIM AND IN A GOOD MOOD AND WELL-RESTED AND HAVING HAD PLEASANT AND LIFE-AFFIRMING DREAMS AND A KIND WORD FROM THE MANAGER AND BEEN ALLOWED TO SIT WHERE HE WANTS ON THE BUS.
Owns a no-frills barbers in Chorlton.
Though not technically still a footballer, Danny Welbeck didn't entirely abandon his skills when he moved to London and joined an Islington theatre troupe. Under the guidance of a mysterious auteur known only as Le Prof, Welbeck and his fellow artistes perform what the Observer called "an intricate blend of ball trickery and modern dance [that] amounts to a searing and moving indictment of the very notion of competitive sport, and one that calls into question our society's obsession with winning". Sadly, a serious knee injury has kept him from the stage for the last few months.
Nobody knows. Literally nobody. We asked everybody. Nobody's seen him. Have you seen him?
Adnan Januzaj (on for Kagawa, 20')
The last player to come through United's ill-fated student exchange program, Januzaj has been travelling across India for the last twelve months, and is reported to have found himself. On top of an elephant, apparently. Why he was waiting to be found on top of an elephant, we don't know.
Andreas Pereira (on for Janko, 45')
Professional Frida Kahlo impersonator.
James Wilson (on for Powell, 57')
Tragically lost at sea.