The Red Devils kicked off the Erik ten Hag era with a dismal 2-1 defeat to Brighton at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Despite a fantastic pre-season, United failed to show the type of form that has rejuvenated excitement among supporters since the end of the last campaign.
United’s collapse against the Seagulls points to a bigger problem though, in that the players often seem to crumble under the pressure of playing for the club on the biggest stage.
And the Athletic say that the squad is gripped with a sense of insecurity, with many players feeling they’re not good enough to take the Red Devils back to where they want to be.
Unnamed former coaches of the club, who have overseen two regimes in the last months, feel that the players are unable to perform at their best level because they have been scarred by their failures in recent years – which has fueled a feeling of inadequacy.
Ten Hag has attempted to resolve this by implementing a strict style of play on the club and there were positive signs in pre-season that the players were adhering to his ways.
But the scars of recent years are there for all to see in a side that haven’t won a trophy since 2017.
Ten Hag has brought in new blood in the form of Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez, while discarding of eight players.
However, the Dutchman had hoped for far more arrivals and the club have spent all summer negotiating a deal for Frenkie de Jong.
But with the Netherlands international unconvinced over a move to Old Trafford, United have opened discussions with Juventus over a deal for Adrien Rabiot.
United have also had a bid rejected by Bologna for Marko Arnautovic, though the Austrian has handed in a transfer request in a bid to force through a move.
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