sport news Manchester United: Reasons to be fearful and cheerful after Ten Hag's men were ... trends now
When things are going well for you in the Premier League, that's usually the moment to prepare for chaos - and so it has proved for Erik ten Hag and Manchester United.
Ripped to shreds by their rivals Man City after a run of four successive wins prior, it is back to the drawing board for the Dutch boss in his ongoing bid to overhaul the club's fortunes and bring them back to the big time.
On this display, that road seems long and arduous and a lot of work will need to be done on the training ground. Ten Hag has a tough task ahead of him and watching Phil Foden and Erling Haaland make a mockery of his team will have been painful.
His side did score three goals against a team who will surely be lifting the Premier League title next summer, so there might still be reasons for optimism.
Here, Sportsmail outlines the reasons why Man United fans should be fearful that the club could slip into another crisis - but also why it might not be doom and gloom after all.
Manchester United were thumped 6-3 by rivals Man City - but is it time for panic stations yet?
REASONS TO BE FEARFUL
CONFIDENCE IS SHOT AND DEFENCE IS ALL OVER THE PLACE
When United found themselves 4-0 down at half time at the Etihad, you really did fear for them. Ten Hag's men have already looked vulnerable at times this season after being smashed by Brentford, and this had shades of that defeat about it.
That day was humiliating as a team of Brentford's modest resources were running riot against a club of United's stature - and that was the more eye-opening result. Losing to City was expected, but it was alarming just how easy they made it look. Truth be told, it could have been 10.
But what was most concerning is that heads seemed to go with every goal that went in the back of the net. There seemed to be an air of defeatism - especially after the fourth - rather than anyone attempting to rally the troops.
United were hammered by their arch-rivals, who led 4-0 at half-time in the derby at the Etihad
Bruno Fernandes wore the armband on Sunday but he doesn't look like a figure who will lift their spirits, while Ten Hag's back four are still relatively unfamiliar with each other and may need more time.
Ten Hag's post match press conference said it all as he admitted confidence was on the floor.
'It's quite simple, it's a lack of belief,' he said. 'When you don't believe on the pitch then you can't win games. That is unacceptable. We get undisciplined at following rules and you get hammered, that's happened today.
'For the first goal we won the ball and could have created a great chance but instead we gave it easily away and then it was like a pack of cards.'
IT COULD GET EVEN WORSE WITH A TOUGH RUN-IN TO COME
This is not something Man United fans will want to hear or even contemplate, but their upcoming fixtures don't exactly bring about confidence.
Next up is a tricky trip to in-form Everton, who have often proved something of a bogey team for the Red Devils. After that they play a dangerous and constantly improving Newcastle side before hosting Antonio Conte's Tottenham at Old Trafford.
To round off a tough and busy month, they'll travel to Chelsea before playing West Ham at home.
Of those five games, you'd expect them to take full points off Newcastle and West Ham, but the other games could be a real struggle. After watching their abject defensive displays this season, most teams are unlikely to be gripped with fear when facing United - instead, they should be licking their lips.
United have some tricky games to come against Graham Potter (L) and Chelsea, while they'll also welcome Antonio Conte (R) and his Tottenham side
MIDFIELD LACKS COMPOSURE
We all thought United were going to be a passing machine under Ten Hag this season after impressing so much with his total football method at Ajax in the last few years, but it just hasn't got going yet.
And against City, United were so sloppy in possession - with their passing all over the place. The warning signs of what was to come were there from the start as pass after pass went astray from the usually-reliable Christian Eriksen and the likes of Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes.
The players lacked authority, freedom and belief while on the ball - something club legend Gary Neville picked up on commentary as he accused them of 'bottling' the crucial derby.
'The Manchester United players have bottled it, there is no doubt,' he said. 'They have not handled this derby at all. I expected so much more.
'There has been no composure. They have never settled. They have been anxious and nervous on the ball and pulled apart by an outstanding team.'
The Red Devils lacked belief on the ball against City and they were sloppy in possession
TEN HAG LOOKS IN TWO MINDS ABOUT HIS PHILOSOPHY
Much of Ten Hag's early reign has been dominated by question marks over his philosophy and the Dutchman has gone back and forth with how he wants to stamp his mark on the club - and he's had to abandon his philosophy pretty early on.
After United were thrashed by Brentford earlier on in the season, Ten Hag realised his possession system wasn't going to work - at least not at this stage and with the players he's currently got. So out the window it went as he focused on a more direct and counter-attacking style to try to get results on the board.
That worked a treat in securing four straight wins against Liverpool, Southampton, Leicester and Arsenal, but against Man City his side just couldn't decide what style they wanted to play.