IT IS NOT QUITE a crisis yet.
Let’s just call this a major problem.
ReutersDanny Welbeck and Pascal Gross were both on the scoresheet at Old Trafford[/caption]
AlamyIt was a miserable afternoon for the Red Devils[/caption]
The boos that rang around the ground when manager Erik ten Hag brought on Anthony Martial as a sub in the second half was the first sign of dissent against the boss.
Well, from the fans anyway.
Things can only get worse when they travel to Munich next week to face Bayern and in-form Harry Kane in the Champions League.
The fact this result was not a surprise tells you exactly where United are and how far Brighton have come under Robert De Zebri.
They were the last team to inflict a league defeat on the Red Devils here in Ten Hag’s first game in charge last season.
Now they have done it again, and in even more emphatic style.
They have now beaten them four times on the bounce in the league.
Goals from ex-United forward Danny Welbeck on 20 minutes, Pascal Gross after 53 and Joao Pedro on 71 did the damage.
Hannibal Mejbri’s 25-yarder on 73 proved scant consolation.
With Manchester United short of widemen due to the situations with Jadon Sancho and Antony, the manager had a problem.
So he simply decided not to play with one on the right, while Marcus Rashford was switching between pulling wide left and acting in a two-man front line with Rasmus Hojlund.
In behind them was Bruno Fernandes.
They were relying on width from their full-backs Diogo Dalot and new on-loan signing Sergio Reguilon in his first game in English football for 17 months.
But Brighton’s attacking threat was pushing them back.
After a very bright start, United were looking easy to play through.
The Seagulls did just that opening the scoring as they flew through the massed red shirts with a brilliant move that lead to the opener.
It started with a throw-in inside their own half and finished just less than a minute later with a Welbeck finish inside United’s own box.
In between there were 17 passes.
The last two saw Welbeck slide Simon Adingra down the right and dart into the box to meet the return which Adam Lallana expertly dummied to allow the former Red a first-time finish.
Brighton really are one of the Premier League’s must-watch teams when they are in full flow, which under De Zebri they often are.
A record sixth-placed finish last season has taken them into the Europa League.
The Seagulls also arguably were the better side in the FA Cup semi-final which finished goalless before United won on penalties.
They have begun this campaign with four wins out of five scoring 15 goals in the process.
They produced this performance with a starting XI costing £17million.
That’s less than a quarter of the cost of Jadon Sancho who had spent the day watching the Under-18s, exiled for his public statement challenging the boss.
Brighton didn’t even have all their best players on the pitch.
Yet they had United on the back foot.
GettyEx-United man Welbeck delivered a ruthless finish[/caption]
APGross fired low past Andre Onana[/caption]
ReutersJoao Pedro celebrates making it 3-0 at Old Trafford[/caption]
The only United player who looked dangerous player was Marcus Rashford who had an early chance blocked by goalkeeper Jason Steele.
He also hit the angle with a shot that deflected off Joel Veltman.
United did have the ball in the back of the net five minutes before the break with what looked like being a dream moment for Hojlund on his full debut.
VAR would deny him as Rashford had let the ball roll too far before pulling it back for the Dane and a look at Stockley Park proved it had gone out of play.
Still this United side have proved resilient not least last time out here when they came back from 2-0 down after four minutes to beat Nottingham Forest 3-2.
As Ten Hag said in his programme notes: “We have shown our character. Now it is time to show our quality.”
No such luck.
Rashford had an early chance shortly after the restart when Hojlund sent him clear on an angle.
Rather than return a pass to his unmarked strike partner he went for goal himself and hit the side netting.
Hannibal Mejbri pulled one back with a great strike from rangeRex
APMejbri gave a big celebration despite the scoreline[/caption]
A couple of minutes later United were further behind thanks to another slick move from the visitors.
Again they kept the ball comfortably before stepping up the gears as Kaoru Mitoma skidded inside, slipped a ball to Tariq Lamptey whose square ball was brought under the spell of Gross.
Feinting to shoot he left Lisandro Martinez looking into space as the ball rolled across him and Gross finished.
Something needed to change but Ten Hag’s 64th-minute substitutions did not go down well.
Off came Casemiro, who looked less than impressed, for Hannibal.
Then when the board was lifted up for Martial to be brought on for Hojlund there was open revolt with boos coming from all four sides.
Seasoned United watchers had to scratch their heads to think of a similar reaction to a substitution here even in the darkest of dark days post Sir Alex Ferguson.
Brighton brought two on at the same time and one of them, Joao Pedro started to empty the ground as he struck Brighton’s third.
Quick on the break, Lamptey was the man providing the assist again from the left with a pull back for Pedro to meet first time with a thumping shot past Andre Onana.
The new Manchester United goalkeeper was picking the ball out of the net for the tenth time in the Premier League since switching from Inter Milan and we are only five games in.
A couple of minutes later United were given slim hope when one of their own subs Hannibal did have the desired effect with his long-range screamer to get one back.
Onana prevented Ansu Fati from making it 4-1 with a diving save in injury time.
But there would be no more, no comeback, no drama in front of the Stretford End.
By the final whistle thousands were already heading down Sir Matt Busby Way.
Premier LeagueRasmus Hojlund was denied his first United goal by VAR[/caption]
Erik ten Hag cut a frustrated figure on the sidelinesReuters