United had a problem long before Juan Mata took a swipe at Darren Fletcher to earn a red card at the Hawthorns.
An hour before kick-off, the gloom returned when United's teamsheet appeared on Twitter, and, as one fan, tweeted "Varela has far too much of the Rafael about him for Van Gaal's liking.
"Schneiderlin had a shot from 25 yards the other night".
It may have been a tongue in cheek remark, but it's hard to argue as both were dropped, seemingly for no apparent reason.
Varela and Schneiderlin both said they were 'fatigued' after starting four games in 10 days, as well as another demoted player, Memphis.
Yet Van Gaal started the 'very tired' Daley Blind who, after his shocking game on Wednesday, endured another shambolic outing at West Brom.
With Chris Smalling and Matteo Darmian again available, Louis van Gaal had an opportunity to give Blind an overdue rest.
Marcos Rojo could have partnered Chris Smalling with Varela at right-back and Darmian on the left- maintaining Van Gaal's weird right-foot left-foot central defensive obsession.
The Dutchman's decision to retain his jaded and overworked compatriot Blind was borderline nepotism.
The Reds had the ignominy of going into the game behind West Ham and with Liverpool on our tails, yet Van Gaal treated the fixture like an end of season dead rubber.
Of the five Premier League teams reduced to ten men over the weekend, three rallied to get a result but United threw in the towel.
United's passing in the opening half-hour was after the Lord Mayor's Show stuff.
West Brom were maybe the worst side to beat us this season and Ben Foster only had catches to claim, rather than proper saves to make, as Van Gaal decided to use a must-win game akin to a training exercise.
Our players improved their match rhythm, at least..
In Schneiderlin, Fosu-Mensah and Varela, Van Gaal dropped arguably the three best players in the midweek win over Watford.
Schneiderlin was man of the match in that slender victory and his absence has been keenly felt in numerous away defeats this season, but Van Gaal opted for a downgrade in 35-year-old Michael Carrick.
Ander Herrera, again, did not have a brilliant game but he did at least try to get forward, so why Van Gaal replaced him with Schneiderlin- instead of Carrick- I do not know.
Like the Ji-Sung Park-Rafael axis against Blackburn, the Schneiderlin-Carrick pairing should have ended after one game yet the unadventurous Van Gaal sees it as a comfort blanket.