United’s fans certainly seemed annoyed. First they jeered when $82 million striker Rasmus Hojlund was replaced by substitute Anthony Martial in the second half. And there were more boos after the final whistle blew on a latest defeat.
Goals from Danny Welbeck, Pascal Gross and Joao Pedro secured Brighton’s fourth-straight win against United in the league, with Hannibal Mejbri scoring a consolation for the home team.
The result left United 13th in the standings with six points, while Brighton moved up to fourth, just three points behind leader Manchester City.
United could drop further down the table if Chelsea beats Bournemouth on Sunday and a season that had begun with hopes of a title challenge is already in danger of unraveling.
Ten Hag had led the club back into the Champions League in his first year in charge and also won the League Cup. But off-field issues involving Mason Greenwood, Jadon Sancho and Antony have cast an unwanted shadow over the club, while performances on the field have also been disappointing.
That form continued against a Brighton team that saw late chances for Kaoru Mitoma, Evan Ferguson and Ansu Fati saved by goalkeeper Andre Onana.
“We could score more goals, especially in the last 25 minutes,” said manager Roberto De Zerbi, who added: “the result, I think, is true.”
Ten Hag is now preparing for a crucial week when United plays at Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stage on Wednesday before a trip to Burnley on Saturday.
“There are things from the team and individuals who have to step up,” he said. “Sometimes you are in bad period, difficult periods, and you have to face that and deal with that. In this moment we don’t deal too well with it, but we can do like we showed last year.
“We can’t blame anyone else, we have to do better and be more determined, more resilient.”
City, Tottenham and Liverpool all staged comebacks to continue to lead the way in the Premier League.
Second-half goals from Jeremy Doku, Bernardo Silva and Erling Haaland maintained City’s 100% start in a 3-1 win at West Ham after going behind to James Ward-Prowse’s header in the 36th.
Tottenham struck twice in time added on to beat Sheffield United 2-1 as manager Ange Postecoglou kept up his unbeaten start in the league. Substitute Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski scored the goals that kept Spurs in second place.
Liverpool also responded to going behind after Hwang Hee-chan opened the scoring for Wolverhampton in the seventh. Second-half strikes from Cody Gakpo and Andy Robertson, as well an own-goal by Hugo Bueno in stoppage time, secured a 3-1 win for the visitors.