Manchester United succumbed to a fifth Premier League defeat of the season after just ten matches against Manchester City on Sunday evening, with Erik ten Hag's side dismantled with ease to illuminate the deficiencies in a 3-0 home loss.

The Red Devils had won their past three matches as a mini-revival hinted at brighter fortunes, but the defeat against Pep Guardiola's outfit has proved that so much work must still be forged despite the hordes invested in the squad over many years.

Manchester City maintain their pursuit of an unprecedented fourth successive Premier League title - currently two points behind first-placed Tottenham Hotspur - while United languish in eighth, as many points off Liverpool in the top four.

Manchester United's performance vs Manchester City

The 3-0 scoreline was a pretty apt summation of the contest, with City's 21 shots and ten on target dwarfing the hosts' ten shots, with just three testing Ederson's goal.

Erling Haaland continued his stellar record against Manchester United with two goals and an assist, very much the architect of Ten Hag's demise yet again; the Norwegian phenomenon has now posted five goals and three assists from just four matches against United.


The Manchester Evening News' Samuel Luckhurst claimed that it was "predictably dismal" from the home side, who now face an uphill battle in defending last season's top-four finish this time around.

So many members of the squad simply did not look up for the task, with the deteriorating form of Marcus Rashford something of great concern for Ten Hag going forward.

Rashford's regression was exposed

Rashford was absolutely electric last season and had the Midas touch in front of goal, bagging 30 goals and 11 assists throughout the 2022/23 campaign as United won the Carabao Cup (with Rashford scoring in the final against Newcastle United).

This year, however, the England star has been a shadow of his former vigour, scoring one goal and supplying three assists from 13 matches across all competitions so far, failing to make his mark against Manchester City.

A bit nonchalant on the occasion, one Red Devils content creator hit out at his "awful body language", producing a forgettable performance on a forgettable evening.


As per Sofascore, Rashford only completed 69% of his passes, also winning just one duel and succeeding with only one dribble, losing possession 11 times and failing to craft any impactful openings.

Writing in his post-match ratings, the Manchester Evening News' Samuel Luckhurst did not hold back in his rebuke, writing: 'Had one of United's best chances at 0-2 but it is now one goal in 13 games and it beggars belief Ten Hag has not dropped him. Body language. His removal was cheered by some fans.'

Rashford was certainly poor and did little to prove his worth after yet another limp showing, but Ten Hag will be concerned over the continuing lacklustre nature of Rasmus Hojlund's efforts in the Premier League.

Hojlund "lacking polish"

Manchester United's lack of a centre-forward threat was evident last season and the big-money £72m signing of Hojlund from Serie A side Atalanta was a prudent move for a talented ace with a lofty ceiling.

Only joining the Italian team last season, Hojlund scored ten goals from 34 outings and received acclaim for his clearly prodigious roots, with talent scout Jacek Kulig pronouncing his as a "monster in the making."

So far this term, the eight-cap Denmark international has plundered three goals from three matches in the Champions League but is yet to score on the domestic scene across eight fixtures, and he endured more misery in the Premier League against Manchester City.

The £85k-per-week striker was hooked after 73 minutes and did not enjoy an auspicious evening at Old Trafford, succeeding with both of his dribble attempts and making two key passes but losing possession seven times despite only taking 25 touches, as per Sofascore - less than half of Andre Onana's 53 touches on the ball between the sticks.


Hojlund also won four of his seven ground duels and certainly boasts the raw, natural qualities to succeed in the Premier League, but it has not come together yet and there is much work to be done before he is comfortably thriving as Manchester United's talisman against the cream of the crop, failing to grasp any direct opportunities of note.

As per FBref, the 20-year-old ranks among the top 17% of forwards across Europe's top five leagues over the past year for successful take-ons, the top 13% for touches in the attacking box and the top 2% for progressive passes received per 90, highlighting his energy and positivity in blitzing into promising openings.

Unfortunately, such attributes were not on display against a disciplined and destructive City team, whose success speaks for itself under Guardiola's wing and indeed accentuates the disparity in fortunes for these prestigious neighbours.

Taking out Rodri after 26 minutes, Hojlund was culpable for a detrimental lapse that provided Haaland with ammunition to fire home an opener from the penalty spot, and while he had a golden chance to make amends moments later, the exciting starlet fluffed his lines.

Indeed, having been put through on goal after an uncharacteristic blunder from Phil Foden, Hojlund failed to display the appropriate composure and cutting edge and dragged his shot wide having been forced wide, with pundit Gary Neville among those to shake his head.

Speaking while on commentary, Neville said: "Hojlund had the chance right away to make amends for what happened at the other end. There's no doubt the potential is there, but he's just lacking polish at this stage of his career."

There is plenty of reason to be sanguine; Manchester United might be struggling at present but there is ample quality to turn things around, and while recent history does not exactly instill confidence across the Theatre of Dreams, Ten Hag took a step in the right direction last season.

Perhaps from a more pragmatic slant, however, the distance between the Manchester rivals is like a cavernous gulf, and Sunday's result typifies where the sides are both at right now.

Hojlund's performance next to Haaland's was emblematic of this, but the Dane boasts innate quality in abundance and while he was 'lacking polish' against Guardiola's side, there is little doubt that with some nurturing, he will be a force in years to come.

However, his performance on Saturday was the latest sign that supporters should not expect too much too quickly from the young man, and that patience is still needed with his development.