Jose Mourinho’s fears over failing to sign a new centre-back were realised as a shambolic defensive display saw his Manchester United side lose 3-2 at Brighton on Sunday. For the first time in nearly two years, Mourinho’s men conceded more than twice with all three Brighton goals arriving before half-time through Glenn Murray, Shane Duffy and a Pascal Gross penalty. Romelu Lukaku briefly brought United back into the game at 2-1. But there was little reaction after the break until Paul Pogba’s penalty deep into stoppage time as United fell three points behind defending champions Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham just two games into the new campaign.
Mourinho warned of a “difficult” season when he wasn’t backed in the transfer market before the deadline for Premier League clubs closed before the opening weekend of the season.
Strengthening the heart of his defence was Mourinho’s priority and it showed as Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly endured a torrid afternoon on England’s south coast.
In a tempestuous pre-season, Mourinho also clashed with Anthony Martial when the Frenchman failed to return to the club’s pre-season tour of the United States after the birth of his second child.
But Martial was recalled to the starting line-up in the absence of the injured Alexis Sanchez and had the first chance when he dashed inside two Brighton defenders before seeing his shot blocked by Duffy.
The story could have been very different for the visitors had Lukaku not wasted a huge chance to open the scoring when he pulled his shot wide of the near post 10 minutes in.
Instead, Brighton went in front when veteran striker Murray caught Lindelof ball watching to flick home Solly March’s cross with a classy finish.
Two minutes later, the hosts led 2-0 as Duffy was given the space to control and fire past a helpless David de Gea after United failed to clear a corner.
Despite suggesting he is unhappy at Old Trafford after scoring in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Leicester, Paul Pogba was again handed the captain’s armband by Mourinho.