Manchester United recorded their worst league start in 29 years as Jose Mourinho’s side were beaten by West Ham at London Stadium.
They 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 the visitors’ unconvincing back-line.
Mourinho’s players fail to respond
In a week that saw them dumped out at the third-round stage of the Carabao Cup by lower-league Derby, 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 side again, 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.
Romelu Lukaku struck the post with a header midway through the first half and Marouane Fellaini forced a magnificent save from goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski
But they were isolated moments and 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.
Impressive Hammers show progress
Manuel Pellegrini had endured a miserable start to life as West Ham manager as the Hammers lost their first four games – but that will now feel a distant memory after an impressive home victory.
A win over Everton backed up with a point against Chelsea last weekend saw the mood at London Stadium begin to lift – even before a thumping 8-0 midweek win over Macclesfield in the Carabao Cup.
Boosted by the return of Arnautovic from injury, they were full of determination and deserved their early lead courtesy of £36m Brazilian Anderson’s excellent finish – ending a run of three home games without a goal.
Indeed, West Ham’s front three of Anderson, Arnautovic and Yarmolenko shone throughout.
The immediate response to conceding, too, will be pleasing for the Chilean coach – a Premier League title winner with Manchester City – who was able to bring on academy graduate and scorer of two in midweek Grady Diangana for his league debut late on.
This was, without doubt, a huge result for the Hammers, who recorded just a second league win in 20 attempts against the Old Trafford side to climb to 12th.
Man of the match – Mark Noble (West Ham).
‘We hope to have more of these days’ – what they said
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho: “One goal is offside, the second goal is an own-goal and the third goal is the referee’s mistake but for the next game we have to have a better start.
“For how many months people are asking for Martial and Alexis Sanchez is not playing well enough so this week it was time for me to agree so I picked Martial and left Alexis out.”
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini: “We hope in the future to have a lot of these days. Today was the test we needed to prove we can play as a big team. Not just to get a result defending against United or City or Chelsea. We work every day. That, to me more, makes me happy.
“The result is obviously most important. Three weeks ago I talked exactly the same after we lost four games, that we are not going to change. People thought that was crazy but that was the way. The team is making a difference, the players delivered a big performance.”
Arnautovic’s good form continues – the stats
- West Ham enjoyed just their second win in their past 20 Premier League matches against Manchester United following a 3-2 victory at Upton Park in May 2016.
- West Ham beat Manchester United by a two-goal margin in a league game for the first time since October 1982, also 3-1.
- Manchester United have scored three Premier League own-goals in 2018, more than any other side.
- Felipe Anderson is only the second Brazilian to score for West Ham in the Premier League, after Ilan Araujo, who scored four for the club in 2010.
- Pablo Zabaleta has registered 12 assists in 81 Premier League games under Manuel Pellegrini, compared with nine in 190 under other managers.
- Marcus Rashford has had a hand in four goals in six Premier League appearances against West Ham, scoring once.
- In 2018, only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, with 24, has been directly involved in more Premier League goals than Marko Arnautovic, on 17.