The problems keep mounting up for Erik ten Hag and Manchester United, who slipped to another defeat on Saturday as Brighton left Old Trafford as comfortable 3-1 victors.
There were first Premier League starts for United for Rasmus Hojlund and Sergio Reguilon as Ten Hag switched to a 4-3-1-2 system but Danny Welbeck punctured the optimistic atmosphere with his strike in the 20th minute.
The Red Devils had struck the bar with a deflected effort and saw a Hojlund strike chalked off for the ball sliding out of play before second-half efforts from Pascal Gross and Joao Pedro put Brighton into a comprehensive lead.
Hannibal Mejbri did come off the bench to reduce the deficit from distance but it wasn’t enough for United to wrestle back any momentum as they limped to a second league defeat in a row and a third in their opening five games of the 2023/24 season.
That run is a landmark low for United. Never before have the Red Devils lost three of their first five Premier League games in the competition’s history.
They were in danger of achieving that infamous milestone last season when Ten Hag lost his first two league games in charge to Brighton and Brentford. However, the tide turned with a 2-1 win over Liverpool, starting a run of only one loss – 6-3 to Manchester City – in 12 league games.
United fans will be hopeful a good result in midweek against Bayern Munich in the Champions League can kick-start a similar rich vein of form, but Ten Hag has a number of squad issues to deal with concurrently.
Lisandro Martinez was fit to play against Brighton but centre-back partner Raphael Varane was absent, as were Mason Mount, Sofyan Amrabat, Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia.
Man Utd’s handling of Mason Greenwood’s future this year has also attracted vast criticism, eventually sending him on loan to Getafe after both parties agreed he could not continue his career with the club.
After the fixture with Bayern next week, United will be back in Premier League action against Burnley before a Carabao Cup-league double header with Crystal Palace.