Five of Manchester United's most shocking defeats
Manchester United remain one of world football’s biggest clubs — but their supporters have not had much to shout about in recent years.
Since the retirement of legendary boss Alex Ferguson in 2013, several managers have tried to lead the 20-time league champions back to English football’s summit without success.
What is more, they have become prone to suffering embarrassing losses along the way.
We look back at five of the Red Devils' most shocking defeats.
Liverpool 7-0 Manchester United (March 5, 2023)
United finally appeared to be heading in the right direction after beating Newcastle to claim the first of four potential trophies with the Carabao Cup.
But just a week after that triumph, Erik ten Hag's side suffered their worst-ever defeat to bitter rivals Liverpool.
With the scores level after 42 minutes, Cody Gakpo took advantage of some horrendous positioning from Fred to race on to Andy Robertson's pass and open the scoring.
Darwin Nunez struck just after the break to spark a capitulation more reserved for relegation fodder than title challengers.
Gakpo netted again and Mohamed Salah bagged a brace either side of Nunez's second after 75 minutes.
Roberto Firmino popped up off the bench to complete the rout for a jubilant Jurgen Klopp and remind Ten Hag that he has plenty of work to do.
Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City (October 23, 2011)
Though a significant majority of United’s darkest days have come long after Ferguson’s retirement, this iconic 6-1 home mauling by noisy neighbours Manchester City simply has to make the list.
Having vowed to never let City overtake United on his watch, the fiery Scot could only look on in dismay as Roberto Mancini’s visitors dismantled his team via a second-half masterclass.
Goals from Mario Balotelli either side of the interval and Sergio Aguero’s tap-in had stunned Old Trafford, with Jonny Evans’ red card rendering Darren Fletcher’s 81st-minute strike a mere consolation.
But what was already a humbling loss turned into a humiliation in the game’s closing stages, as an Edin Dzeko brace and David Sliva strike sealed a stunning away success.
Ferguson branded United’s defending "suicidal" and promised a response, though they could not prevent City securing a first Premier League title seven months later in even more dramatic fashion.
Manchester United 1-2 Swansea (August 16, 2014)
The post-Ferguson era at Old Trafford had not started well with David Moyes failing to see out his first season in charge — though there was fresh hope among fans with the arrival of Louis van Gaal.
Vastly experienced, the charismatic Dutchman walked out on the opening day of the 2014-15 campaign to a rapturous ovation but visiting Swansea would soon bring that optimism crashing down.
The Swans sealed a deserved 2-1 win, subjecting United to a first home defeat on the opening day of a top-flight campaign since 1972.
Van Gaal would eventually guide United to finishes of fourth and fifth and lift the 2016 FA Cup — their first piece of post-Ferguson silverware.
Yet just two days after that success, the axe would fall on LVG.
Watford 4-1 Manchester United (November 20, 2021)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s day of reckoning arrived after his hapless side were resoundingly beaten by Watford at Vicarage Road.
The Hornets, who would end up being relegated back to the Championship, went ahead through ex-United academy starlet Josh King and Ismaila Sarr doubled their lead before half-time.
In one final roll of the dice, Solskjaer chucked on Donny van de Beek for a rare cameo and the Dutch midfielder almost instantly halved arrears, though it proved a false dawn.
Captain Harry Maguire’s well-documented woes continued as two yellow cards in seven minutes saw him dismissed, with late strikes from Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis making for a truly shocking scoreline.
Solskjaer was duly dismissed from his position the next morning, ending an era that had brought some joyous moments for United fans but sadly resulted in familiar fashion.
Brentford 4-0 Manchester United (August 13, 2022)
Ten Hag is the latest man tasked with turning things around on the red side of Manchester and an opening-day home defeat to Brighton showcased the size of the task at hand.
Little did the former Ajax boss know, worse was to follow a week later as a full-strength Red Devils line-up were pulled apart by an industrious Brentford in West London.
The manner of the Bees’ first three goals was particularly shocking, with United showing a complete lack of concentration, composure and — most unforgivably — desire.
Christian Eriksen, making his first away appearance for the club having turned down an extension from Brentford, was ruthlessly mocked by the home supporters who could hardly believe what they were witnessing.
Ten Hag was pictured shaking his head in disbelief on countless occasions throughout the contest — he will hope this remains the low point of his time at the helm.