West Ham United added to the misery of Jose Mourinho as his Manchester United recorded their worst league start in 29 years with 3-1 defeat at London Stadium.
Manchester have 10 points from seven games – the same as in 2013-14 under David Moyes – but inferior goal difference means this is their worst top-flight start since they picked up seven points in 1989-90.
The Hammers, with only one win in the preceding 19 top-flight meetings, were ahead after just five minutes through club-record signing Felipe Anderson’s clever back-heeled finish from Pablo Zabaleta’s cross – despite both players appearing to be offside.
And the hosts doubled their advantage on the brink of half-time in fortunate fashion, as Andriy Yarmolenko’s shot cannoned in off Victor Lindelof and beyond the wrong-footed David de Gea.
Marcus Rashford responded for the largely pedestrian visitors on 71 minutes, but Marko Arnautovic restored the Hammers’ two-goal lead less than three minutes later as Mark Noble’s pass sliced through United’s unconvincing back-line.
Manchester United proved no match for a lively West Ham in the opening stages, but the visitors did go close to equalising when Romelu Lukaku’s header struck the post midway through the first half.
Their appeared little response to their midweek Carabao Cup exit to Championship side Derby, however, and the Hammers – who had failed to score in their previous three home games – enjoyed plenty of chances.
Marouane Fellaini forced a magnificent save from goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski as the visitors chased a route back into the contest, before Rashford’s sublime front-post flick offered a lifeline.
But Arnautovic’s fourth goal of the season signalled West Ham are beginning to progress under Manuel Pellegrini, while problems continue to mount for Manchester United and manager Mourinho.
Pressure mounts on Mourinho
In a week that saw them dumped out at the third-round stage of the Carabao Cup by lower-league opposition, the talk surrounding Manchester United has focused as much on off-field troubles as it has on actual results.
Mourinho’s relationship with £89m record signing Paul Pogba appeared strained once again on Wednesday, as a tense exchange between the two was captured by cameras at United’s training ground.
And, following the announcement that Pogba would not captain his sideagain, after criticising their approach to the home draw with Wolves last weekend, Mourinho reiterated his stance before this game, stating: “No player is bigger than the club.”
Although French World Cup winner Pogba did start against West Ham, Alexis Sanchez – not thought to be injured – was left out of the squad entirely, along with Jesse Lingard, as United stumbled to defeat in east London.
The visitors appeared uninterested as Pellegrini’s men exposed a shaky United defence, initially consisting of Scott McTominay, Chris Smalling and Lindelof, and United have now kept just one clean sheet in seven games having begun their last campaign with six shut-outs in the same period.
Pogba was brought off in the second half, having looked unable to influence the game, along with Anthony Martial, who failed to take the opportunity to impress as Mourinho’s side struggled in attack.
Rather than receive a response from his players, Mourinho is now faced with bigger questions as his side drop a place to eighth in the table – after playing a game more than their rivals.
The former Chelsea boss was understandably disappointed with the result but defended his players.
“The first goal was offside, but there’s no VAR. In the first half we had a good reaction but then an own goal. In the second half we took a bit of time to react. The goalkeeper made some good saves, their centre-backs had a fantastic match. Congratulations to the scout that found Diop, he is a monster.
“Then we scored for 2-1 and instead of the linesman’s mistake, it’s the referee’s mistake. It was a foul on Marcus Rashford. The third goal kills the game.
“Scott McTominay has a fantastic attitude. He’s aggressive, brave and he has quality on the ball. I’m really happy with the job he did.
“For many months people are asking for Martial, Martial, Martial. For many months they are saying Alexis Sanchez is not playing well enough. This week I tried to agree and give a chance to Martial.
“I have no complaints with the players’ attitude. I can have complaints with some quality and the mental approach in certain duels. You could see, for example, Snodgrass came on with an incredible attitude. You need a little bit of that – I don’t know if it’s the right word in English – humility, that genuine…. There are certain qualities that you have or you don’t have.”