Jadon Sancho has gone where only Cristiano Ronaldo went with Erik ten Hag at Manchester United – Liam Corless

One of world football&aposs quintessential ball-playing goalkeepers had joined from Champions League finalists Inter Milan, Erik ten Hag&aposs midfield had been refreshed by the arrival of Mason Mount and an encouraging young striker had been signed to take the goal-scoring burden off Marcus Rashford.

Fast-forward three weeks and that optimism has been seriously dampened. Amid City&aposs utter dominance, a title charge was never realistically on the cards and United&aposs form over the opening four games of the season suggests they face a fight to finish in the top four.

United&aposs home record under Ten Hag last season was exemplary, and results-wise that has continued into the new campaign, but their away record is diabolical and serious cause for concern.

Read more: Sancho may find there is no way back for him at United

Under Ten Hag, against teams that finished inside the top 14 in last season&aposs Premier League, United&aposs record reads: played 15, won two, drawn three, lost 10. That is appalling for a team that went an entire league campaign undefeated on the road just three years ago, albeit in stadiums without supporters.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was the manager back then, guiding United to a second-place finish, and it feels like there are a few similarities between United&aposs start to this season and Solskjaer&aposs doomed final months in charge.

As was the case this summer, two years ago it felt as though United had made the necessary signings to push the team on following an encouraging previous season. Jadon Sancho was a player United had admired for years and having failed to sign him a year prior, Solskjaer finally got his man from Borussia Dortmund for 73million. Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo were proven winners and viewed as the defensive and striking additions that could inspire a genuine title challenge.

United started that season by taking 13 points from a possible 15 but a run of one win in seven followed, spelling the end for Solskjaer. The dressing room was in disarray by the end of Solskjaer&aposs reign and it remained that way under Ralf Rangnick (remember him?) until the end of the season.

Sancho&aposs ill-advised response to Ten Hag&aposs confirmation that he was dropped for Sunday&aposs trip to Arsenal due to his form in training may not be indicative of a larger problem within the squad, but it is far from ideal for a player to effectively accuse the United manager of lying on a public platform.

There are caveats to United&aposs rocky start to the season. Injuries to key players have left the squad looking threadbare already, and a languid final month in the transfer market meant four players were signed on deadline day. That is not an ideal situation for a club with ambitions of winning silverware more significant than the Carabao Cup to be in.

Where United are in a more positive position than they found themselves in two seasons ago is in the dugout. Ten Hag is a proven manager at a high level and has experience with promptly dealing with players who display poor discipline.