Manchester United hosted Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford today in the club’s first game since the international break.
The game ended in a 3-1 loss for United – a second consecutive defeat in the Premier League with Bayern Munich in the Champions League up next.
Erik ten Hag’s men started well and on the front foot. The pressing was good and every action was executed with conviction and purpose.
In particular, new signing Sergio Reguilon impressed in the early stages of the game from the left-back position.
United seemed to at times almost line up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund as the forward men.
This seemed to have taken Brighton by surprise. But against the run of play, the Seagulls shed first blood in the 20th minute through former United star Danny Welbeck.
A low cross from Simon Adingra was allowed to run into the box before being met by an unmarked Welbeck, who was all too happy to tap it in, beyond the reach of a diving Andre Onana.
Brighton’s goal seemingly sapped the energy and enthusiasm out of United and for a while. Roberto De Zerbi’s men were firmly in control of proceedings. The opposition retained possession well and were excellent in their passing, effectively making the 20-time English champions play second fiddle.
United thought they had restored parity five minutes before the interval through Old Trafford debutant Rasmus Hojlund.
Rashford took on a couple of defenders before squaring the ball to Hojlund, who managed to poke it into the back of the net.
However, VAR ruled out the goal as subsequent replays judged that the ball had gone out of play before Rashford found Hojlund inside the Brighton box.
Rashford was undoubtedly United’s main source of threat in the opening 45 minutes. He had a number of opportunities to get on the score sheet. One of his efforts hit the woodwork.
United started the second half well as they sought to get back into the game and cancel out Brighton’s lead.
Rashford had a chance when Hojlund put him through on goal, but the Englishman could only find the side netting.
The Red Devils were punished just minutes later when Pascal Groß grabbed the second for Brighton.
He received the ball from Lamptey before coming up with a brilliant piece of skill to take out Lisandro Martinez.
The German made no mistake from close range as he gave Onana no chance to save his effort.
In response to going two goals up, Ten Hag took off Hojlund and Casemiro and brought on Anthony Martial and Hannibal Mejbri.
Hojlund’s substitution in particular for Martial did not go down well with the Old Trafford faithful who booed loudly.
With 20 minutes of action left, Brighton got a third, this time through Joao Pedro.
A lethargic United who were slow in their tracking back left Lamptey to bomb forward. Like in the first goal where Welbeck was unmarked, Pedro was also left with plenty of space to pick his spot and to United’s woes.
Supporters were seen leaving the stadium in visible disgust and disappointment at what they were witnessing.
Two minutes after Pedro’s goal, Hannibal gave United some hope with a spectacular strike from outside the box.
With six minutes of normal time remaining, Ten Hag made further changes. Facundo Pellistri, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alejandro Garnacho replaced McTominay, Martinez and Reguilon.
The players who came late on could however not inspire the team to mount any comeback. United’s miseries both on and off the pitch continue and it could get worse if they are beaten by Bayern on Wednesday.
There are plenty of questions that need to be asked, both of the players and certainly of the manager. Simply not good enough at the moment.