AS the old song goes, we only eight Man United.

Wanderers’ biggest victory in 40 years might carry an asterisk, as it came against a woefully wet-behind-the-ears Reds’ Under-21s, but if you had any doubt how serious Ian Evatt was about retaining the EFL Trophy, let this be exhibit A.

Not since Tony Caldwell banged five in against Walsall in September 1983 has a Bolton side gone goal crazy like this in a competitive game.

Dan Nlundulu and Josh Sheehan helped themselves to two each, with Gethin Jones, Nelson Khumbeni, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Luke Matheson adding the rest on a night where practically everything went all right for the Whites.

There may have been some eyebrows raised when Evatt’s side was announced at 6.45pm with just four changes from the one that had scrapped for a point against Peterborough United at the weekend.

Eoin Toal, Aaron Morley, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Dan Nlundulu came in with Josh Dacres-Cogley, Dion Charles, Victor Adeboyejo and Kyle Dempsey given a rest, the result being a team that could settle the game in the early stages and enable the manager to bring some youth on to the pitch as the game wore on.

Of course, there was an element of risk. While Gethin Jones and George Thomason were both eligible to play and suspended on Saturday at Port Vale, their inclusion was a given, but had Evatt picked up any more unwanted knocks and pulls, there might have been a few awkward questions to answer.

As it turned out, all was well; almost perfect, in fact.

Wanderers had the game wrapped up within the first 45 minutes with four well-crafted and well-taken goals, and the manager was able to pick and choose who needed a breather in a rather academic second period.

Much like a pre-season friendly, it is debatable how much you can interpret from performances against a team of such youth. United’s senior team were launching their defence of the Carabao Cup down the road against Crystal Palace, so this fixture looked even more of an afterthought. It is a wonder the EFL were not paying babysitting fees.

But had Bolton stumbled, they would surely not have been forgiven. Any result against the team in red is an important one for this club, and so a performance of such professionalism and efficiency should be applauded.

Nlundulu lit the touchpaper 19 minutes in, passing in a low drilled cross from Sheehan, whose movement in the first half was something to behold.

The Welshman revelled in the open spaces, as did fellow central midfielders Thomason and Morley, each daring each other as to who could take the ball under most pressure and produce the most audacious pass.

Three minutes later Sheehan doubled the lead. Wanderers got a bit of luck with a lucky bounce off Sonny Aljofree – son of former Bolton man Hasney – but the midfielder out-foxed keeper Radek Vitek with a clever finish.

Sheehan’s second was a delight too. Morley’s corner had Vitek in a panic and when United failed to get the ball clear, the Wales international smashed a shot into the top corner for his first-ever professional brace.

There was still time for a fourth, and there was something cathartic about Jones’s finish from eight yards out as he prepares to start an agonising three-match ban in the league.

Playing as a wing-back in Dacres-Cogley’s absence, he looked full of running and ideas. There is not a doubt in this writer’s mind that he will be pushing just as hard for a recall in October.

United’s youngsters mustered a couple of momentary threats to the Bolton goal but found Nathan Baxter in no mood to surrender a clean sheet. The Whites keeper made a couple of smart stops towards the end of the half to ensure the visitors were given no encouragement whatsoever.

Nlundulu added the fifth within a couple of minutes of the restart, jamming Jones’s cross past Vitek at his near post. In celebrating the goal, the striker lifted his shirt to reveal a message dedicated to late England youth player Ben Cull, who had played alongside him in Southampton’s youth academy.

Bodvarsson’s reintroduction since last season’s ankle surgery has been a slow one but on several occasions he provided reminders of the twinkling close control that we have missed. Just after the hour the 2,500-or-so Wanderers fans flanking the Nat Lofthouse Stand got the goal they had come for – Will Forrester slipping a great ball down the middle and the Iceman smashing his shot off the underside of the bar to create the biggest cheer of the night.

Wanderers hadn’t finished yet. Cameron Jerome probably should have made it seven after some glorious football down the left but that honour went to sub Nelson Khumbeni – his first senior strike – and a crisp finish that will live with for a very long time.

Evatt sent Sam inwood on for his debut with 14 minutes left on the clock, reward for the remarkable progress he has made in the last 12 months as part of the B Team.

Luke Matheson wasn’t being denied his moment, either, and six minutes from time he smashed in the eighth Bolton goal of the night after some good work from Cameron Jerome on the left, and a perfectly weighted pass from Thomason.

The former Rochdale youngster has some history scoring against Manchester United – and showed in his time on the pitch that he could be a very handy signing indeed if he continues to progress.

On one hand the margin of victory emphasises why playing Under-21 teams in this competition is a fruitless exercise, on the other, this might have been a blessing in disguise for Evatt as his side ramped up their confidence for a three game push before the international break.