Jose Mourinho unable to inspire joyless Manchester United as Brighton expose their defensive frailties

Jason Burt
Asking questions: Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba - REUTERS

Jose Mourinho’s downbeat post-match comments were almost as incoherent as his woeful team as they were deservedly beaten by a rampant Brighton who simply, damningly and emphatically out-played and out-fought them.

The score-line flattered Manchester United as this raucous encounter on the south-coast was summed up with Glenn Murray, Brighton’s 34-year-old striker, simply bullying the central defenders that Mourinho clearly has so little faith in.

United were, in fact, out-classed and alarmingly Mourinho, tense and angry on the touchline, did not seem to have an answer before pinning it on “incredible mistakes” and, another, veiled suggestion that he had not been backed in the transfer market. Even if he added that he did not want to talk about it.

The United manager had already declared money does not buy class after he was mocked in the Amazon Prime “All or Nothing” documentary series about the champions but it is his team that is lacking – and not just because they did not acquire the centre-half Mourinho believes they need. 

On this evidence they are not only joyless and listless but will struggle to finish in the top four, never mind try and wrestle the Premier League title away from City who put six past Huddersfield Town before this match kicked off. 

Two games into the season and it has come to this already. There was no fizz, no spark, no inspiration, no fight. From him or them. There is time, of course, there is plenty of time and Mourinho suggested that they cannot be judged until December but, by then, City, Liverpool and a few others may be too far ahead if this performance is repeated too often.

The central defender argument is a red herring for the Red Devils. Mourinho may want more but the two men in that position he has brought in – Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof, at a combined cost of £61million – played and were shocking. 

Where to start? Alexis Sanchez did not travel because of a “little (injury) problem” but there were big problems: from David De Gea in goal, a curiously nervous shadow of his former self, to full-backs in Luke Shaw and Ashley Young who were dominated through to a lack of creativity and control in midfield and a leaden forward line.

Eric Bailly (left) and Victor Lindelof did little to inspire  Credit: Getty Images

Anthony Martial, who wants to leave, replaced Sanchez but did not impress and was taken off in the second-half. The forward failed to acknowledge and was not acknowledged by Mourinho while Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira did not even last that long and were hooked at half-time.

By then Brighton had scored three times. They were better than United all over the pitch and even shrugged off the loss to injury of their crucial defender Lewis Dunk. In his absence Shane Duffy was immense while Davy Propper and Dale Stephens dominated United captain Paul Pogba and new signing Fred – a near £150million midfield combination.

On the wings Anthony Knockaert and Solly March were too sharp and that was summed up by Brighton’s opening goal on 25 minutes when Propper popped the ball out wide and Mata barely attempted to close down Gaetan Bong. The left-back found March who, not for the first time, whipped in a first-time cross. 

Murray stole in front of Lindelof and superbly flicked the ball with the outside of his right boot beyond De Gea. Great finish; terrible defending.

Glenn Murray celebrates opening the scoring Credit: PA

As Brighton’s fans celebrated their team scored again. United failed to clear a corner, which had been needlessly conceded by Bailly, and a shot across goal fell to Pascal Gross who picked out the relentless Knockaert who, in turn, found Duffy. The centre-half took a touch and shot low past De Gea. Again – good finish; appalling defending.

United needed a response and found it when a corner drifted over Lindelof and fell to Shaw whose shot was charged down into the turf only for the ball to ricochet up. Romelu Lukaku headed it home from close-range.

There was a long time to go but, crucially, United could not hold on to half-time and it was another calamitous concession as De Gea inexplicably sent the ball straight into Fred’s face – quite literally - and the midfielder lost possession to Stephens. As Mourinho complained Fred had been fouled, Gross was sent through on goal with his first touch taking him wide. But Bailly recklessly lunged in, bringing him down and Gross drove the penalty into the net off De Gea’s leg as he dived to his right.

And that, frankly, was that. Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan made one fine save, as he flung himself to push away a Pogba shot from distance for a corner but United did not threaten again until the 95thminute when Duffy made his only mistake as he crunched into substitute Marouane Fellaini and Pogba fired in the penalty.

Victor Lindelof and Paul Pogba of Manchester United put pressure on Glenn Murray of Brighton Credit: Getty

Extraordinarily Mourinho attempted to claim more added time should have been played, as he clutched at straws, but at least he conceded that Brighton deserved to win. They certainly did. But for all their desire, their organisation and skill they were helped by their opponents who lacked all the basic elements Brighton showed.

At one point Pogba passed the ball straight out of play before Fred injured himself as he tried to take out Murray and missed him completely. Mistakes can be made but it was symptomatic of malaise.

Long before the end pockets of United fans, who, admirably had chanted throughout, urging their team to “attack, attack, attack” started to drift away to be goaded by a chorus of: “Just like Brighton, your city is blue.” That will have hurt but not as much as this result and this performance. It was humiliating for a team of United’s ambitions and resources and a manager of Mourinho’s ability.

Match details

Brighton (4-2-3-1) Ryan 7, Montoya 7, Duffy 9, Dunk 6, Bong 7, Propper 9, Stephens 8, Knockaert 8, Gross 8, March 8, Murray 9
Subs Balogun for Dunk (20), Kayal for Gross (89), Locadia for Murray (90)
Substitutes not used Button (gk), Bissouma, Jahanbakhsh, Bernardo

Manchester United (4-3-3) De Gea 4, Shaw 4, Lindelof 3, Bailly 3, Young 5, Pogba 5, Pereira 5, Fred 5, Martial 4, Lukaku 6, Mata 4
Subs Lingard for Pereira (46), Rashford for Mata (46), Fellaini for Martial (60)
Substitutes not used Grant (gk), Smalling, Herrera, McTominay

Referee Kevin Friend

5:58PM

Report and reaction to follow

Expecting some good sourness from Jose in the post-match.

5:57PM

Full time: Brighton 3 Man United 2

Brighton, for reasons I cannot really understand, sort of kick for touch like it was a rugby union match. Maybe they misunderstood what the ref said. Anyway, United get the ball back in play, but there shall be no Fergie Time today, and the referee is soon blowing for full time. Brighton have done it!

5:56PM

GOAL! Brighton 3 Man United 2 (Pogba 90+ p)

Pogba smashes that into the roof of the net.

5:55PM

90+ mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1                     

Duffy has knocked Fellaini over in the box. Poor Marouane. This is a penalty.

5:53PM

90+ mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1                    

The hero Murray comes off. Locadia comes on. There will be four minutes added, but I don't think it will matter.

5:52PM

90 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1                   

Pascal Gross comes off. Kayal is on.

5:52PM

89 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1                  

Fred aims a huge swing at either Murray or the ball with his boot, misses both, and nearly decapitates Luke Shaw. Well done everybody.

5:48PM

87 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1                 

Dale Stephens, like many others, has put in a solid shift. He's won a corner down the left. United deal with that well enough.

5:45PM

84 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1                

Rashford, over-eager to burst through, has made a foul. Brighton can regroup after a testing spell.

5:44PM

83 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1               

Ball's played up looking for Fellaini.

5:44PM

82 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1              

About ten minutes left. United look rather bereft of ideas but who knows, a goal could cause Brighton to wobble.

Here come the men in red.

5:41PM

80 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1             

Shane Duffy and Mat Ryan clash going for the ball and the goalie needs treatment. United's players use the opportunity to go and get a drink and presumably some words from Mourinho.

5:35PM

75 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1            

Shot! Pogba whips one from range. Good save!

5:35PM

74 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1           

Pogba tries a Hollywood crossfielder. Throw in.

5:34PM

Shame

hope he's okay.

5:31PM

68 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1          

United unable to create anything. The approach play is tolerable, if laboured. But no final pass at all. Brighton have been excellent.

5:29PM

68 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1         

Mourinho losing it. Lukaku losing the ball. Cannot control a decent pass from Fred.

5:26PM

Now he's at it with Chrissy

or somebody in the Brighton bench. Or a linesman. Or a ballboy. Or something. Anything to avoid having to watch Eric Bailly play football.

Jose Mourinho Credit: Sky Sports

5:22PM

62 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1        

Mourinho honestly looks like he would rather be anywhere else.

5:22PM

Out on Baill

5:19PM

59 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1       

All those hundreds of millions, all that energy, time and money, and what is the plan?

The big man Credit: Sky Sports

Gie it to the big man. Marouane Fellaini is coming on. Martial has been an absolute waste of space. He is off/

5:19PM

58 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1      

Pogba wins the ball in the centre, looks up, spots a runner... and totally muffs his pass.

5:18PM

55 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1     

Wonder if Mourinho will be there at Christmas? Having watched City earlier, I mean, come on. This United team are not even in the same postcode. So lethargic, sloppy, passive. 

5:12PM

51 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1    

Ashley Young with a corner. It doesn't come to much. Pogba gestures angrily if that is because he feels he is being held by an opponent or if he was unimpressed by the delivery. Maybe both.

5:12PM

50 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1   

Young gets a stamp on the foot from Solly March. Lingard is furious to be blown up for a foul when he thinks he is through.

5:10PM

47 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1  

Bailly's at it again, dithering when under pressure and nearly getting robbed in front of goal.

5:07PM

46 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1 

Jose has resisted the temptation for the petulance triple, making just two changes: Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard on, Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira off.

I like that: defence has been awful but you change the midfield. It's like the England cricket policy of dropping a seamer after the batting collapses.

5:06PM

Right then

second half ahoy

5:03PM

Wonder what Jose has said?

Nothing good, I should think. United were so sloppy. A rabble.

4:51PM

Half time: Brighton 3 Man United 1

Oh to be a fly on the wall / documentary film crew in the United dressing room at half time. What a shower.

4:48PM

45 mins: Brighton 3 Man United 1

Mourinho looks furious. United, a shambles, have got themselves into more trouble. Even a simple thrown in seems to be beyond them. They lose it. Martial booked for wrestling.

4:45PM

GOAL! Brighton 3 Man United 1 (Gross 44p)   

Ooh, he's a bit lucky. He drills it down the middle, De Gea half dives. It hits him on the legs as he dives but his luck is out. Pascal Gross will be relieved. Mourinho must be fuming.

4:44PM

Penalty!

Glorious stuff. Brighton have got a penalty. United are all over the place and Gary Neville's miserable exasperation is a joy to hear.

Penalty is correctly awarded when Bailly chops down Gross from behind. A self-inflicted wound: United gave the ball away, lost their shape, and on an individual level, you have to say that Bailly did not need to dive in so recklessly.

Bailly fouls for a penalty Credit: Sky Sports

4:39PM

37 mins: Brighton 2 Man United 1 (Lukaku 33)

Gross and Konckaert stand over a freekick in a handy position. Well over.

Brighton free Credit: Sky

4:36PM

GOAL! Brighton 2 Man United 1 (Lukaku 33)  

Oh dear. Brighton's joy is dimmed. A corner that they fail to clear, it is played back into Lukaku. Believe it or not, they have left him unmarked in the six-yard box. Of all the people... Easy pickings for the big man to nod it in.

4:29PM

GOAL! Brighton 2 Man United 0 (Murray 26) 

It's two!!! Get in there Brighton! United cannot clear a corner. It's played back in, Shane Duffy controls it - he's unmarked - and then slots it away.

4:26PM

GOAL! Brighton 1 Man United 0 (Murray 24)

Tremendous stuff down in Sussex! Solly March gets down the left, an excellent low cross and a wonderful finish from Glenn Murray. He gets in front of the defender and dinks it so delicately past the keeper at the near post.

4:22PM

19 mins: Brighton 0 Man United 0       

Balogun comes on for Dunk. Knockaert with a promising run, he gets inside Shaw, who is out of position.

4:20PM

18 mins: Brighton 0 Man United 0      

Decent work down the right from Young and Lukaku. The latter's cross is cut out at the expense of a corner.

Dunk has been struggling since that knock and it looks like he is coming off.

4:18PM

15 mins: Brighton 0 Man United 0     

United stroking it around. It's quite pedestrian stuff though.

4:12PM

10 mins: Brighton 0 Man United 0    

Lukaku lunges, catches Dunk on the instep. Sore for the Brighton stalwart/ own goal machine. He needs treatment. He received the ball, poor touch, Lukaku was well within his rights to go for the ball.

4:11PM

9 mins: Brighton 0 Man United 0   

It has all opened up for United! Brighton apparently stuck in treacle, their defence gapes open like a ripped tent. Pogba has all the time in the world to feed Lukaku, whose touch is not great. His shot is worse. Scuffed wide. Excellent chance.

4:07PM

5 mins: Brighton 0 Man United 0  

Interesting from Gary Neville, who says that in his time at United they had a committee of players who would fine each other for breaches of discipline, minor tardiness etc. (He's talking about Martial) The monies would then be given to charity, or the staff, at the end of the year.

United win a corner but it is cleared.

4:02PM

2 mins: Brighton 0 Man United 0 

Encouraging for Brighton early on. Bong does well down the left, looks to slip it to Solly March.

4:01PM

1 mins: Brighton 0 Man United 0

The hosts get us underway.

4:00PM

Brighton wish to pay tribute

to John Shepherd, longtime coach, and Jimmy Collins, an erstwhile captain.

Credit: Sky Sports

3:57PM

Manchester United line-up

Manchester United team to face Brighton Credit: Sky Sports

3:57PM

Brighton line-up

Brighton side to face Man United Credit: Sky Sports

3:55PM

The players are in the tunnel

Can the mighty Seagulls spring an upset? United lost here last season. In fact, they managed to lose to all three promoted teams.

Jose Mourinho and Manchester United travel to the south coast this afternoon to face Chris Hughton's Brighton Credit: GETTY IMAGES

3:47PM

Mourinho on Pogba

“If he doesn’t play as well today as in the last match, that’s numberwang football. His attitude is very good.” 

3:43PM

"Is it imperative that United win here?"

asks Sky Presenter Droid. 

Souey makes a noise like "Pschaw" and mutters that it is, after all, only the second game of the season. But he then softens and agrees that it is important that United win as many games as possible, because they sure as hell aren't winning pretty. Fair points on both sides.

"He has given him sugar lumps," says Souey on Mourinho's handling of Pogba. "There is a player in there. He showed more discipline last week. But if he has allegedly said to the manager 'don't talk to me talk to my agent' then there has been a serious breakdown."

Souey: Sugar lumps Credit: Sky Sports

3:33PM

Teams for Brighton vs Man United

Brighton: Ryan, Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bong, March, Propper,  Stephens, Knockaert, Gross, Murray. Subs: Kayal, Bissouma,  Locadia, Balogun, Jahanbakhsh, Button, Bernardo. 

Man Utd: de Gea, Young, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw, Fred,  Andreas Pereira, Pogba, Mata, Lukaku, Martial. Subs: Rashford,  Smalling, Grant, Lingard, Ander Herrera, Fellaini, McTominay.

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 

3:33PM

Hi there

Here are the teams...

3:21PM

World Cup returnees

What the footballing gods have taketh away with Alexis Sanchez (injured, apparently), they have giveth back in the form of Ashley Young and Romelu Lukaku, ready to play from the start after their World Cup exertions. Paul Pogba, once again, captains the side after another week of collective rumination over his relationship with the boss - Jason Burt reports:

Jose Mourinho has insisted he has never had a “fight” with Paul Pogba and suggested it is up to the apparently unsettled Manchester United midfielder to explain what he meant when he said “there are things I cannot say otherwise I will get fined”.

In robustly defending his relationship with Pogba, who United steadfastly say will not be sold to Barcelona, Mourinho revealed that the only United player who had been fined during his time at the club was Anthony Martial.

“He never had a fight with me. We never had a warm (heated), a hard, I don’t know how you say, exchange of words. Everything is respected. I have no problems at all,” the United manager stated with photographs showing Pogba, and his team-mates, in high spirits at the club’s Carrington training ground ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture away to Brighton where they lost last season.

The player each Premier League team could least afford to lose to injury

Pogba answered Mourinho’s call to return to first-team action, after just three days training, following his post-World Cup holiday, for last Friday’s league match at home to Leicester City. It was after that game, however, that Pogba hinted at his unhappiness and said he could not go further for fear of being fined.

“You have to ask him. You have to ask him,” Mourinho said when asked what Pogba meant. “You know I'm here for two years and a couple of months and the only player that was fined was Anthony Martial, so is not easy to be fined here. So you have to ask him. I didn’t ask him, I’m not going to ask him. I repeat I want him to work the way he is doing and to play the way he is doing and, for me, that's the only thing that matters.”

3:12PM

No pressure, Jose

Up in rainy Manchester, Guardiola's lot are into the latter throes of carving poor Huddersfield into pieces: Sergio Aguero has scored a hat-trick, David Silva has been lovely and they still had the luxury of bringing on Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane. United are playing catch-up today, in every sense.

3:01PM

Team news!

2:49PM

Mourinho clicks into mischievous gear

Rather than Brighton, and the problems they might post at the Amex Stadium this afternoon, Jose Mourinho's topic of choice this week has been rather closer to home. Manchester City's widely-reviewed Amazon documentary was always going to throw up a few talking points and it seemed inevitable that the red half of Manchester would be embroiled in something. But, as Sam Wallace writes, this latest provocation has brought out a side in Jose that we all want to see:

“I haven’t seen it [“All Or Nothing” series] but I know a few things about the movie,” Mourinho said. “My reaction is if you are a rich club you can buy top players, you cannot buy class. That is my first reaction. The second reaction is because I am in the movie I could ask for some royalties. But if they send me one of the t-shirts they had in the tunnel [for the derby game in April when City could have clinched the title but lost 3-2] when we played there, the shirts that were saying ‘We did it on derby day’. If they send me one of these shirts, I give up about the royalties.”

Mourinho was enjoying himself. “You know,” he added with a laugh, “a movie without me doesn’t sell much. Come on! It [the City documentary] needed me [in] there.”

Man City

For United fans, all this will be a delight. Not least the reference to the t-shirts that never saw the light of day, rather like those oft-mentioned - but never seen - Arsenal t-shirts said to proclaim “50 not out” before United ended their 49-game unbeaten run at Old Trafford in October 2004. The notion that City are not interesting enough for the documentary makers without the spice of their famous rivals, and their manager, is exactly what the Old Trafford faithful want to hear. After a summer in which Mourinho’s sullenness has dismayed many fans, this was the kind of mischief they approve of.

We'll have the team news for you shortly. The whispers are that Alexis Sanchez is not in the United squad...