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Manchester United have made their worst start to a season in 61 years and pressure is mounting on manager Erik ten Hag.
Here is a look at what has gone wrong, the issues at play and what is next for the stumbling Red Devils.
– How has the campaign started for United?
Dreadfully. Ten Hag’s side papered over the cracks with an unconvincing three-game winning streak, before two 3-0 home humblings in the space of four days brought them crashing down to earth.
Neighbours Manchester City could easily have won Sunday’s Old Trafford derby by a greater margin and the manner in which the holders bowed out of the Carabao Cup against Newcastle in the repeat of February’s final only compounded matters.
– How bad have United been?
Underwhelming, jumbled performances have led to results that make for grim reading.
The defeat to City meant United have lost five of their opening 10 Premier League matches – their most at the start of a league campaign since 1986-87.
Newcastle then inflicted their eighth defeat in 15 matches in all competitions, making it their worst start to a season since 1962-63.
– Are there any mitigating factors?
Injuries have been a constant issue for United this season, with the defence particularly impacted by absentees.
That has unbalanced a side lacking confidence and depth, albeit to an extent few could have foreseen.
A tough early schedule did not help matters, nor has the off-field issues that have provided constant background noise.
The potential takeover process also continues to provide a major cloud over a club paying for the Glazers’ longstanding lack of effective leadership.
– What is the latest on the ownership?
Wholly unpopular since their leveraged buyout in 2005, there was hope the Glazer family would leave when United announced a strategic review last November.
But frustrated Sheikh Jassim recently pulled out of the interminable process, leaving Sir Jim Ratcliffe looking set to purchase around 25 per cent of the club.
The Ineos founder’s team are still awaiting updates and nothing has been formally finalised, but the deal would see them have a significant say in sporting matters.
There are certainly areas on the football side that need a shake-up and they will be keeping a close eye on the managerial situation.
– What has gone wrong under Ten Hag?
Ten Hag ended United’s six-year wait for silverware by lifting the Carabao Cup in his first season, but the afterglow of that promising campaign has long since gone out.
The Dutchman rather concerningly given his successes with Ajax, has been unable to establish a clear playing style and his selections have at times been as iffy as some of his signings. Antony, for example, has got nowhere near to fulfilling his eye-watering price tag.
There have been reports of disquiet in the dressing room about the meticulous disciplinarian, who has banished Jadon Sancho from the first-team.
He said on Wednesday night that the misfiring team need to “stand up” and work “shoulder by shoulder”.
– What is next up for United?
Defiant Ten Hag called himself a “fighter” after the loss to Newcastle and needs to quieten growing questions over his position before into the international break.
There is little time to prepare for Saturday’s Premier League trip to Fulham, before United head to Copenhagen for a Champions League clash that could go a long way to deciding whether they progress from the group.
A home league match against promoted Luton follows before a November break that United can ill afford to limp into, especially with trips to Everton, Galatasaray and Newcastle immediately following.