With two defeats from their opening four Premier League games and mounting problems on and off the pitch, Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag is already facing something of a crisis.

Injuries to key players, off-field issues involving Jadon Sancho and Antony, and poor form have left United already playing catch-up in the Premier League and Ten Hag under early pressure.

United were lucky to beat Wolves 1-0 in their opening game of the season, were beaten 2-0 at Tottenham, had to come from 2-0 down to beat Nottingham Forest 3-2 at home, then lost 3-1 at Arsenal before the international break.

Ten Hag cannot afford another defeat in United’s next game, at home to Brighton, who beat them 2-1 at Old Trafford last season and who are sixth in the table, five places above the Red Devils.

Here, **Mirror Football ** looks at the issues facing Ten Hag as he tries to turn United’s fortunes around after a dismal start to a season of such promise, after finishing third last season and winning a first trophy for six years with the League Cup.

Injury crisis

In mitigation, Ten Hag has been hit with a glut of injuries to key players, with more sidelined after the Arsenal defeat.

New £72million striker Rasmus Hojlund arrived with a back problem and has played just 23 minutes so far, while £60m midfield signing Mason Mount has missed United’s last two games with a thigh problem.

Mason Mount has missed United's last two matches due to injury Mason Mount has missed United’s last two matches due to injury (



Ten Hag’s defence has been decimated, with Luke Shaw ruled out until November and back-up left-back Tyrell Malacia also out, forcing United to sign Sergio Reguilon on loan on deadline day.

Raphael Varane is out for several weeks, with Lisandro Martinez and Victor both coming off against Arsenal, the former with a foot injury, the latter through illness.

That left Ten Hag having to end the game with fifth and sixth-choice centre-backs, Harry Maguire and Jonny Evans, which resulted in United conceding twice late on to lose the game at the Emirates.

To compound his injury problems, new on-loan signing Sofyan Amrabat pulled out of Morocco’s upcoming games through injury, with the midfielder a doubt for the Brighton game.

Off-field issues with Sancho and Antony

Jadon Sancho hit back at Ten Hag in a public post over his lack of playing time Jadon Sancho hit back at Ten Hag in a public post over his lack of playing time (


Getty Images)

As if Ten Hag did not have enough to deal with on the pitch, his problems are piling up off it, too. After the defeat at Arsenal, Ten Hag revealed he had omitted Jadon Sancho from the 20-strong match-day squad because of poor training performances.

Sancho took to social media to counter his manager’s version, claiming what he said was “completely untrue” and that he had been made “a scapegoat for a long time”. Ten Hag is said to be losing patience with Sancho, having given the winger three months off last season, to recover physically and mentally, after he struggled to produce his best form for United.

The United boss felt he had done everything within his power to help Sancho rediscover his best form, but chose to go public with his dismay over the player’s below-par training performances after becoming exasperated with the 23-year-old.

It remains to be seen if there is a way back for Sancho under Ten Hag, with disciplinary action likely after publicly undermining his boss, who has tried everything to help him fulfil his potential.

On top of Sancho, Ten Hag and United are under pressure to suspend another winger, Antony, over allegations of physical assault, which the Brazilian denies.

Antony was withdrawn from Brazil’s latest squad in the wake of the allegations from his former girlfriend, Gabriela Cavallin, while a further two women have claimed they were also assaulted by the 23-year-old, which the player has also denied.

After deciding Mason Greenwood could no longer play for them, despite having charges against him dropped, United are under pressure to take a similar line with Antony and follow Brazil’s lead by making him unavailable for selection pending the outcome of the investigation, with Greater Manchester Police now involved.

Working out his best side

Alejandro Garnacho could work his way into Ten Hag's starting XI Alejandro Garnacho could work his way into Ten Hag’s starting XI (


Getty Images)

**_HAVE YOUR SAY: What is United’s best XI? Let us know your thoughtsin the comments below. _ **

With so many injuries and players unavailable, Ten Hag’s team selection options are limited, but the United boss needs to find his best side – and fast.

At the back, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Sergio Reguilon are likely to fill the full-back slots, with Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire in central defence, in the absence of Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw.

In midfield, Mason Mount is currently unavailable, meaning Ten Hag has deployed Casemiro and Christian Eriksen in the middle. Sofyan Amrabat was signed on deadline day to bolster the midfield, but is also injured, leaving Ten Hag with few options.

In attack, the off-field controversies surrounding Antony could see him suspended, leaving a void on the right, although the Brazilian’s woeful displays this season have not justified his continued selection.

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Jadon Sancho could come in for Antony, but after publicly defying his manager on social media, he is unlikely to feature any time soon, meaning Alejandro Garnacho could come into the starting line-up. Marcus Rashford has cemented his place on the left of United’s attack, with Bruno Fernandes occupying the playmaker role.

Up front, Hojlund showed in a 23-minute cameo at Arsenal why he must start against Brighton, ahead of the insipid Anthony Martial. While Martial went through the motions, as he so often does, Hojlund got in among Arsenal’s defence, bullying them physcially and pulling them out of position with his pace and clever movement.

In what has been a testing start to the season for Ten Hag, Hojlund’s impressive late showing was the one positive to shine through the gloom, providing hope that United can recover from their false start.

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