Christian Eriksen rued Manchester United’s all too familiar inability to take their chances as a concerning start to the campaign continued with the home defeat to Brighton.
Erik ten Hag’s first season may have been promising but his second term has got off to a poor start, with off-field issues compounded by poor performances on the pitch.
Having been unconvincing in the home wins against Wolves and Nottingham Forest, United’s 31-game unbeaten home run in all competitions came to a shuddering halt on Saturday.
The 3-1 loss to Brighton followed on from defeats at Tottenham and Arsenal, meaning the Red Devils have lost three of their opening five matches for the first time in the Premier League era.
“I think we started very strong, very much front footed and we surprised them a bit with our game plan,” midfielder Eriksen said.
“Then obviously when they score from the first chance they have it makes them a lot easier and for us we have to go forward.
“After that, I think we lost a bit of the momentum. I thought we had it back with a goal just before half-time. But then we didn’t have the little luck or the clinical part to get back and then it’s difficult.”
Former United man Danny Welbeck put Brighton ahead at Old Trafford, before Marcus Rashford saw a shot deflected onto the woodwork and full debutant Rasmus Hojlund had a goal ruled out by the VAR.
United lost their way after that point, with Pascal Gross and substitute Joao Pedro scoring before Hannibal Mejbri’s thumping consolation effort.
“You have to (fight),” Eriksen said of the team’s mindset when the hosts were trailing by three goals.
“Already before that I think we were trying to come back and we were trying to be offensively (dangerous).
“Obviously how they play there’s a lot of a lot of running from our side and I feel like they have a lot of extra passes, but in the end I still think we had enough chances to come back but we just didn’t take them.
“It’s been like this, the season so far. I think if we change that, I think a lot of the games will be a lot easier to play.”
If United put in a similarly toothless, lax display in Wednesday’s Champions League group stage opener then things could get far uglier.
Ten Hag’s men open Group A away to perennial Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, whose side are spearheaded by Eriksen’s former Tottenham team-mate Harry Kane.
“There’s a lot of games coming up now – every three or four days, there’ll be a new game,” the 31-year-old Denmark international told MUTV.
“So now our focus will definitely be on Bayern (from Monday) when people have recovered from the game.
“It’s going to be a very tough game, but every game is different, so it’ll be good to start from 0-0 and get something back.”
Brighton also now turn their attention to European matters and a historic clash with AEK Athens.
The soaring Seagulls have never played in continental cup competitions before and open their Europa League campaign against the Greek side on Thursday.
Roberto De Zerbi’s outfit head into the match in fine form and Brighton striker Welbeck says they do not fear anyone.
“He’s instilled that confidence and everywhere we go we want to get the three points, if it’s at home, if it’s away,” he said.
“We set up well. We know if we play to our best then we can beat anybody and today was no different. We prepared really well for the game and got the three points.”