Erik ten Hag has been warned the intensity over his position is only going to increase amid fears the under-pressure Manchester United manager is putting his job on the line in the wake of another disjointed performance at home to Brighton.
The Red Devils made great strides under the Dutchman in his first season at the helm, recording a third-placed finish and reaching two cup finals, winning the Carabao Cup in the process. As a result – and on the back of another £177m summer spend that saw seven new players arrive – the expecations have risen at Old Trafford that another good season is on the cards.
However, United have started the season poorly and have lost three of their first five matches – making it their worst start to a league season since 1989.
While they were perhaps unlucky to lose at Arsenal before the international break, a loss at Tottenham was deserved, while they were served the biggest humbling of all by Brighton at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Indeed, the Seagulls were 3-0 before Hannibal Mejbri pulled one back. Ultimately, though, United were perhaps a tad unfortunate not to lose by a bigger scoreline with Roberto De Zerbi’s side tearing them apart time and again.
Now talk that Ten Hag is a man under serious pressure is starting to ramp up.
The club makes their Champions League return this week, away to Harry Kane and Bayern Munich, while anything less than a good performance and result away to Burnley next Saturday night will see fears of the sack ratchet up a notch.
Chris Sutton fears the worst as Ten Hag sack debate heightens
Now pundit Chris Sutton feels Ten Hag needs some good performances and results fast if he is to turn the tide at Old Trafford.
And while insisting the situation is not yet at crisis point, he feels the screw could quickly turn if United fail to improve in their next couple of matches in what looks like a critical week.
Writing for the Daily Mail, Sutton said: “Manchester United are not in such a big crisis as when Jose Mourinho was playing the blame game. He cut an isolated figure towards the end, with his mad, egotistical ramblings.
“But Erik ten Hag needs to solve this situation fast, because the scrutiny on him is increasing with every sub-standard showing.
“United are a club with the highest expectations. Always have been. Always will be. To have only won two of their opening five Premier League games – and they were lucky they won those – is not good enough.”
Man Utd situations causing Ten Hag extra problems
Ten Hag has been plagued by a number of off-field issues since he took charge at Old Trafford. Indeed, Getafe loanee Mason Greenwood, Antony and now Jadon Sancho have all been embroiled in unwelcome situations since the Dutchman’s appointment.
Indeed, Ten Hag has admitted the discipline at United is not good enough after he laid down the law over Sancho’s recent public falling out.
Now Sutton suggests he is struggling to manage the big egos at United.
“I feel for Ten Hag in a way. He couldn’t help the Mason Greenwood situation. He couldn’t help the Antony situation. I’m not even sure he can help that Jadon Sancho seems like a prima donna, because Ten Hag was only being honest about the player,” Sutton added.
“When Mourinho was chucking everybody under the bus, he had lost the dressing room. It is not at that stage yet for Ten Hag.
“Bayern Munich on Wednesday will be tricky but United need to show a better version of themselves when they visit Burnley in the league on Saturday.”
While recent performances have been poor – and a number of their players at least admitted their results have not been good enough – Ten Hag can at least take some comfort in the all-time Premier League since he took charge.