Manchester United and the sound of the Old Trafford crisis klaxon

<span>Photograph: Matt West/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Matt West/Shutterstock


It’s a little too early in the Premier League campaign to sound the Old Trafford crisis klaxon, which is probably just as well considering the state of disrepair and decrepitude into which the famous stadium has fallen suggests it has almost certainly run out of battery and wouldn’t emit a sound. Nevertheless, Manchester United’s season has got off to a most inauspicious beginning both on and off the field and it is difficult to avoid the feeling that the club’s beleaguered manager Erik ten Hag is now one heavy midweek defeat against Bayern Munich in Big Cup away from receiving public messages of support from random corners of the internet.

Following a weekend in which surprising Premier League results were not so much at a premium as completely nonexistent, United’s defeat at home by Brighton was arguably the least shocking of them all. Swooping down upon Old Trafford to steal the points like the feathered seaside thugs from which they take their nickname might relieve a small child of their chips, the Seagulls recorded their fourth consecutive league victory over United. If anything, the 3-1 scoreline flattered the losers despite their manager’s delusional post-match protestations that “the game was head-to-head with such small margins”. While the Dutchman’s postmortem may have been swallowed by assorted Bluetick BunchOfNumber types on the internet who are convinced the mainstream media are out to destroy their club, few seasoned Old Trafford-goers who actually watched the surgical evisceration of their team are likely to have been taken in by Ten Hag’s guff.

As United’s latest defeat unfolded, a stat was rolled out revealing that Brighton’s entire starting lineup cost just £17m, mere chump change compared to the £1.15bn United have paid out for their entire squad. “I think also Brighton, they spend money as everyone is doing and when Man United is coming, it inflates the price and that is also the truth,” said Ten Hag, who had the kernel of a point, even if he failed to acknowledge a more glaringly obvious truth that while United remain far more fashionable, the comparatively tiny club from East Sussex are currently their superiors in almost every conceivable way.

While some Old Trafford season ticket-holders might scoff at the very notion, there is little or no getting away from the fact that as things stand, Brighton currently have a better owner, a better manager, better players and more squad depth. What’s more, they boast a vastly superior recruitment department with a spookily keen eye for talent that is coupled with an almost supernatural ability to weed out potential wrong ’uns who might cause aggravation long before they get within a Seagull’s shriek of their club.


Join Michael Butler from 7.45pm BST for hot Premier League MBM coverage of Nottingham Forest 2-2 Burnley.


“If anything, I’ve got the buzz again. I’m sure when February comes round, one or two people will ask me to come out again. I’ve had more comebacks than Frank Sinatra haven’t I?” – Neil Warnock, 74, announces that he’ll step down as Huddersfield Town boss after the Stoke match on Wednesday but expects to be barking orders from a dugout somewhere after Christmas.

Neil Warnock
Neil Warnock announced his impending departure after back-to-back wins as Terriers boss. Photograph: William Early/Getty Images


“So many sardines were thrown overboard by Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday that Eric Cantona’s famous quote – “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea” – was flipped on its head with the Seagulls pulling and yanking the sick, poorly maintained old trawler ashore for all to see its true dilapidated state” – John Weldon.

“Regarding Rodney Harrington implying England have picked two Irishmen (Friday’s letters), some of us recall the 1980s when the acronym FAI meant Find Another Irishman. And did they! How many English footballers were selected for Ireland back then? I lost count, but if you really wanted to be an international, you just had to turn up in a green shirt and whistle Danny Boy (further reading here – Football Daily Ed)” – Stephen Rankin.

“The Gareth Southgate approach to Harry Maguire is the essence of what is wrong with English football – the inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy” – Jeff Sax.

“A belated double earworm offering for Villa/Spurs games. Bring tea for the Tielemans, Steak for the Son” – Chris Berry.

“I must have been taking too many of those prescription mushrooms to deal with the pain of Leeds getting relegated or something, but I’d swear I saw that a Millwall-Leeds match finished after 90+ minutes with NO YELLOW OR RED CARDS!” – Jeremy Boyce.

Send your letters to Today’s winner of our letter o’ the day is … Stephen Rankin, who wins a copy of The Blizzard: Issue 50. Readers can get £3 off and free shipping for the print version with the promo code FD3, while those who would rather get the digital version can get £1 off with the code FD1. We’ve more to give away all week so get tapping those keys.

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