That was game over and the exclamation mark of another desperate day for United this season. Erik ten Hag has a multitude of problems to sort, but it feels like so many of them start in midfield, which is an issue for Ten Hag himself.
His response this weekend was to pick four central midfielders, but they still looked inferior to Brighton&aposs three. Pascal Gross, Mo Dahoud and Adam Lallana cost 2.6million, while United had a 35m midfielder not in the squad, in Donny van de Beek.
You can highlight the role of midfielders in all of the goals. For the first, Christian Eriksen couldn&apost get out to Joel Veltman in time, although that was a tactical failing as much as anything, given the diamond midfield would always leave opposition full-backs without a direct opponent. Once Veltman had fired the ball into Danny Welbeck, United were exposed, with Casemiro unable to cut the pass out and then the wrong side of the striker.
Brighton dropping their forwards into midfield is a tactic they use every week and one United should have been aware of. Instead, Welbeck was being marked by neither the centre-backs nor Casemiro and had the freedom to turn. His run into the box to apply the finish to Simon Adingra&aposs cross also went untracked.
For the second goal, Gross began the move under no pressure in the centre circle and then drifted into the penalty area without ever attracting the attention of a marker. Scott McTominay went wide to Karou Mitoma but was passive when up against the Japanese winger, who had an easy pass to Tariq Lamptey on the edge of the area. Diogo Dalot and Casemiro were close to the full-back but neither put a tackle in and Eriksen was flat-footed on the edge of the area when Gross took control of the loose ball.
These issues are nothing new for United and opposition midfielders must already be licking their lips at the idea of playing against a team who have become a soft touch.
For Wolves, Matheus Nunes and Matheus Cunha managed to dribble through central areas and create dangerous openings. At Tottenham a week later, Yves Bissouma, Pape Matar Sarr and James Maddison looked stronger and fitter than their opposite numbers.
Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard played well for Arsenal and then came Brighton&aposs dominance at Old Trafford. United look vulnerable in the centre of the pitch.
This shouldn&apost be the case. No position has been overhauled more than central midfield under Ten Hag. Casemiro was signed for 70m last season and Eriksen arrived on a free transfer. Mason Mount was a 60m addition this summer and started slowly before his injury.
Ten Hag will be hoping Sofyan Amrabat is fitter sooner rather than later. The 27-year-old&aposs physicality and energy could be what this midfield requires. It also needs Casemiro to find the form that made him look an outstanding signing in his first season at the club, rather than the sluggish 31-year-old he has been so far in this campaign.
He will certainly need to make a difference. Ten Hag has signed four central midfielders in two summers, including Amrabat&aposs 10m loan from Fiorentina, which could be made permanent in 2024, and he needs that unit to be better than they have been.
When in possession, there is plenty to like about a combination of Casemiro, Amrabat, Eriksen, Mount and Fernandes. But it is without the ball where so many of United&aposs problems lie at the moment.
That is a scenario they are likely to encounter a lot at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday. It would be an ideal moment to show some improvement and get this season back on track.
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.