On Saturday, Manchester United’s troubled start to the Premier League season persisted as Erik ten Hag’s squad succumbed to a 3-1 loss to Brighton.
Remarkably, this marks the first time in 34 years that United has lost three of their first five league games of the season. Additionally, their defeat at Old Trafford brought an end to a 20-game unbeaten run in the league at home.
Former United striker Danny Welbeck netted Brighton’s opening goal, capitalizing on being left unmarked to sweep the ball home in the 20th minute. Later in the match, Lisandro Martinez and Victor Lindelof displayed sluggish reactions as Tariq Lamptey fed Pascal Gross, resulting in the visitors doubling their lead.
Brighton’s Joao Pedro then elegantly curled the ball beyond Andre Onana for their third goal, with Hannibal Mejbri providing an immediate consolation goal for United.
Despite the outcome, Rasmus Hojlund and Sergio Reguilon both made impressive debuts for United, while Rashford, the team’s talisman, exhibited liveliness on the left wing.
However, Rashford’s off-the-ball efforts have sparked criticism from some United fans. A video clip of Rashford jogging passively as Brighton tapped the ball from defense to midfield has frustrated a segment of the Old Trafford faithful.
On X, formerly known as Twitter, one individual commented: “This is disgraceful.” Another wrote: “Does Rashford think he’s Ronaldo? Ronaldo pressed at his age.” A third, referencing United’s out-of-favor player Jadon Sancho, quipped: “Also… if Sancho is the one who’s not up to standard, then I want to know what this is???” A fourth criticized Rashford as “fake pressing.”
Despite the drop to 12th place with six points, Ten Hag maintained that the club is not in crisis. He conveyed to Sky Sports, “We must stick together and adhere to the plan and the rules, and we will turn this around. It bothers me [the form], but I have to see the way we play. It’s about character, we have to see how strong we are and how the team sticks together. Players need to step up and show character because in all the games, especially today’s match and against Arsenal and Forest, we’ve seen that we can play well and create chances. But we also have some improvements to make, and we have to step up.”