Just two games into the Premier League season and Manchester United seem to be on the verge of a crisis.
They opened their 2018/19 campaign with an unconvincing 2-1 home win over Leicester City last week, but on Sunday they were utterly abject in a 3-2 shock loss at Brighton & Hove Albion.
Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof’s vaunted central defensive partnership was a shambles at the Amex Stadium as the hosts raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Glenn Murray and Shane Duffy.
United were shellshocked and while they did reduce the deficit via a somewhat lucky strike from Romelu Lukaku, Bailly’s horror show continued when he gifted the hosts a penalty right before the interval.
Pascal Gross stepped up and while it wasn’t the best spot-kick ever, David de Gea could only get a hand to it as the attempt crossed the line to leave the fancied visitors in a potentially sticky situation.
With Alexis Sanchez injured, United were lacking creativity and Mourinho rung in the changes at half-time, bringing on Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford to inject some pace.
On paper, Lukaku, Lingard, Rashford, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba should have been able turn on the style but as has often been the case under Mourinho, United’s expensively-assembled players failed to click.
Even Marouane Fellaini’s towering presence couldn’t save the Red Devils’ on the night and it was left to a soft penalty right at the death to give them a chance to reduce the deficit.
Pogba, for the second time in as many games, cooly fired it past the keeper but it was to be a mere footnote in the end as Brighton held on for the 15-odd seconds that were left in the tie.
For the second time in a calendar year, the Seagulls have the prized scrap of Mourinho’s united and it’s anybody’s guess as to how the Portuguese can turn it around.
They travel to the capital to take on a confident Tottenham Hotspur next and a second loss on the trot looks likely at this stage.