The mood couldn’t have been better at Manchester United last time they faced Brighton as the Red Devils ran out 3-0 winners at the Amex Stadium.
Mason Greenwood was firing on all cylinders, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba’s rapport was getting stronger and stronger and United even looked solid in defence.
Things were really looking up for the Red Devils on June 30 as United put Brighton to the sword
Their third goal even triggered memories of a fantastic breakaway strike during a Champions League semi-final win against Arsenal finished off by the great Cristiano Ronaldo.
But fast forward less than three months and the mood is the total opposite as far as the Red Devils are concerned.
A dire 3-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace in their Premier League opener has led to all sorts of criticism being directed at United, namely manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Solskjaer has been in charge since December 2018 and has encountered a few setbacks in his relatively short period as United boss but the loss to Palace has led to many questioning his credentials, including talkSPORT’s Simon Jordan and Perry Groves.
The Solskjaer doubters sharpened their knives after last weekend’s defeat
Some have defended him including former Untied assistant Steve McClaren, who believes all this criticism of the Norwegian is ‘a massive overreaction’.
Overreaction or not, you get the sense that Solskjaer is already fighting for his future ahead of just United’s second Premier League match of the season, which is against Brighton on Saturday.
You can listen to full commentary of Brighton vs Manchester United LIVE on talkSPORT, kick-off 12:30pm.
After that, United go to the Amex again as they take on the Seagulls in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup. They could even define Solskjaer’s future at Old Trafford so talkSPORT.com has taken a look at what he must do to buy some more time.
Liverpool news live: Thiago decision ‘excited players’, club warned over Koulibaly
Man United’s Upamecano boost, Southampton want Chelsea ace, PSG’s rivals eye Alli
Man United news: Final Sancho offer, France defender hints at transfer, new Telles fee
De Gea backed as United legend reveals what must happen for Henderson to become No.1
Chelsea news: Kepa to leave, Rudiger on Barca’s radar, Arsenal eye Jorginho
raise the bar
Mourinho reveals bizarre discovery by Spurs goalkeepers before Shkendija win
Arsenal news: Atletico ‘convinced’ on Partey, Lyon president talks Gunners finances
EFL Cup fourth round draw in full: Premier League giants face off next week
The goal is simple: Win both clashes against Brighton. It’ll get United points on the board in the league and getting past the Seagulls in the cup puts them in the quarter-finals and all of a sudden three wins away from silverware.
But either a defeat in the league match, the cup match or both and the outlook looks far more bleak. The bad feelings about the club will only be magnified.
United finished last season strongly, going on a 19-match unbeaten run which saw some exciting cup runs in the FA Cup and Europa League but more importantly, qualification back into the Champions League was secured on account of a third-placed finish.
In fact, the defeat to Palace was the Red Devils’ first Premier League defeat since they were beaten by Burnley in January.
Before the Palace defeat things weren’t that bad for United on the pitch
However, there have been plenty of setbacks over the last few months. Defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals, a game which saw David de Gea make yet another costly mistake, was shortly followed by a Europa League exit to Sevilla, leaving United fail to win a trophy for a third straight season.
Morale will also be low due to their lack of transfer activity. Donny van de Beek will be a good acquisition but United have missed out on a lot of names, including Sergio Reguilon and Thiago Alcantara.
Meanwhile, the transfer that the club has obsessed over for ages, Jadon Sancho, looks no closer to happening this summer.
The only marquee signing United have made is Donny van de Beek from Ajax
But that’s not even where United need to strengthen the most. The Palace clash confirmed what we already knew – defenders need to be brought in.
Kalidou Koulibaly was linked with the Red Devils for multiple transfer windows but it looks like he will join Manchester City if he ends up leaving Napoli.
Highly-rated French youth international, Dayot Upamecano, has been linked with a move away from RB Leipzig but he recently signed a contract extension at the Bundesliga club.
It’s probably too late to consider signing Koulibaly or Upamecano but beat Brighton in both the league and cup and all of a sudden life is better at Old Trafford.
United become a more appealing team to play for with a few days left until the October 5 deadline.
Lose these matches though and it’s hard to see Solskjaer and co. get out of their rut.
Is Solskjaer the one to make United a top Premier League club once again?
Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and gossip and in talkSPORT.coms LIVE blog