No team can win the title in the first few matches of the season, but they can lose any hope of winning it. That is in danger of happening, if it hasn&apost already. Yet football is a funny old game, and it only takes one match to transform fortunes, just as we saw a year ago when United defeated Liverpool to kickstart their season and embark on a solid surge up the table.
In a weird way, next week&aposs trip to face Bayern could even be exactly what they need, with Erik ten Hag&aposs side very much underdogs who have a point to prove and not much else to lose.
Read next: Tactical gamble failed for United vs Brighton
Player ratings: McTominay and Lindelof poor in Brighton defeat
United will ultimately need a huge improvement in many areas of the pitch if there is going to be any chance of that happening, though there are a few notable positives to take into their Munich trip.
While much of the focus will be on the one who got away in the form of Harry Kane, United&aposs own striker signing, Rasmus Hojlund, has started well and could quite easily have played key roles in two memorable results already.
He played a pivotal role in what would have been a potential Alejandro Garnacho winner at Arsenal, and it was perhaps harsh to see his goal disallowed against Brighton yesterday. Overall, he has caught the eye with his hold-up play and movement in those two appearances, and with a little slice of luck, he could really make a statement against Bayern next week.
It is a similar train of thought for Marcus Rashford as well. He was both a blessing and a curse in yesterday&aposs defeat, making things happen out of nowhere but then failing in his one-man mission to try and salvage the game. The 25-year-old has all it takes to terrorise any defence he faces, though he still needs to work on his end product, both in terms of finishing and working with his teammates rather than against them.
United can also take solace in the knowledge that they started strongly in losses to Brighton and Arsenal but were let down at crucial moments by individual errors. It might seem very happy-clappy to say that after back-to-back defeats, but right now, United need to take all the positives they can rather than feeling sorry for themselves.
If they are in need of any more silver linings, there should also be some encouragement in Sergio Reguilon&aposs debut performance, which certainly showed he can do a job while other left-backs are sidelined. The Spaniard provided a regular threat on the left-hand side, defended pretty well when called upon, and could have had some attacking joy if Rashford had been more generous with the ball.
Hannibal&aposs exciting cameo, highlighted by his stunning consolation strike and impassioned celebration, will also provide a little comfort to United fans. He is a player who wears his heart on his sleeve, and it was clear to see how much it meant to him, having had to wait so long for another chance in the team.
Not only did he score a great goal, but he finished the match with 100% passing accuracy, having won four ground duels and drawn two fouls. He is certainly an option in the weeks ahead while the midfield remains such an issue.
Add in the fact that United may soon be helped by the return of a number of key players from injury, and there is still reason to be optimistic despite the obvious grounds for concern.
Manchester United are back in the Champions League after an impressive first season in charge for Erik ten Hag.
Having won the famous trophy three times, the Reds have a wonderful history in the European Cup. Now the Dutchman has to live up to that legacy.
Our special preview of Uniteds 2023/24 Champions League campaign provides the ultimate guide to the tournament.