During the Cold War the CIA carried out a number of highly secret experiments concerned with mind control techniques, and the use of mind-altering drugs to either incapacitate the enemies of the United States, or to create a Manchurian Candidate style super-assassin, lying in wait for instructions. Most of these experiments were carried out illegally on US citizens and soldiers, who often had no knowledge of what they were being subjected to.
The program was closed down in the 1970’s, and most of the documents relating to it were destroyed, but the small amount of surviving documentation that was unclassified revealed that the name of the project was MKULTRA, although the reason behind the acronym is unclear. Just recently, UTAS uncovered a new document that showed that actually, the program was somewhat successful and continued in secret until 1998 when a new sleeper agent was created. This agent had been trained by the CIA to possess pace, awareness, height and the majority of the skills required to be a professional footballer. He had then been programmed to forget everything he ever learnt about defending the moment he set foot in Milton Keynes, hence MKULTRA. Unfortunately for us, his name is Special Agent Conor Masterson, and as part of the FA’s ongoing conspiracy against Cambridge United going back thirty odd years, he was implanted into the centre of our defence on Saturday afternoon.
Okay, maybe we’re being a bit harsh on the lad – no one really had a good game yesterday, but Masterson’s performance is probably one of the worst individual performances in a U’s shirt in recent memory. It was so bad that the usually patient Mark Bonner hooked him at half time, something we can’t remember him doing before. Hell, even Declan Drysdale didn’t get hooked after his horrorshow at Port Vale last season.
Over seventeen hundred U’s fans made the short-ish trip to Stadium MK, but the sheer size of the stadium makes it difficult for any real atmosphere to be created. There were almost ten thousand people there in total, and not only did it look like there were only four thousand, it sounded like there were less than two. Yes, it’s a lovely modern ground with great facilities and easy parking, but the place has about as much atmosphere as a stadium on the moon. If this is the future we’ve got ahead of us, some large bowl surrounded by car parks and Frankie & Benny’s by the side of the A14, I’m not sure I want that. Give us the Abbey with all its flaws and quirks any day.
Once inside, those U’s fans were treated to a decent display of football by a strong, battling side. Unfortunately that side was MK Dons, and they tore an insipid United apart, the first two goals gifted on a plate by a complete lack of any kind of defensive nous, the third a well-struck free kick that truth be told, we couldn’t really do that much about.
The second half saw United emerge with a rocket up their arse and a renewed vigour to play football. We started to attack, and create chances, most of which were spurned by a frustrating James Brophy and Sam Smith. Jack Iredale was pushed into the centre of defence in place of Masterson, whilst Harrison Dunk took up his place at left back. Iredale, probably one of our players of the season so far, was uncharacteristically at fault four MK’s fourth – a loose pass across the face of goal finding the grateful feet of the waiting MK striker, who played in Max Watters to score his second of the game.
So, Bonner got this one all wrong then? Tactically, yeah. 100%. But before we tear him apart lets look at the opposition. Max Watters, Scott Twine, Josh McEachran. All class players. They didn’t even bring on Mo Eisa (although he’s shit, so probably wouldn’t have done anything anyway). We know our defence is inexperienced and struggles against these experienced forwards – and we’re definitely paying the price for having our two first-choice centre backs out, but I think we could have had Van Dijk at the back and it wouldn’t have changed the result – we were just set up wrong from the start. Is that worth people starting to question Bonner and call for his head though? Not a chance – we’re 12th in League One, with realistically one of the smallest budgets and fanbases in the League. Bonner is inexperienced for sure, but we knew what we were getting with him. He’s going to make mistakes, but so far he’s learned from them – defeats have usually been followed up with better performances. Bonner’s hamstrung slightly by having a small squad and a number of injuries, but let’s be honest – he’s massively overachieved with this group of players. We’re going to have difficult spells this year – and our next three League games are as difficult as they come, but it’s not going to do anyone any good if we don’t get behind him and the team.
You can listen to Julian, Owen and guest Matt Gooding dissect the game further in the latest UTAS Podcast, available everywhere now.
Man of the Match: That steward in the football boots.
Soundtrack of the Match: The Style Council – Come To Milton Keynes