Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said his side have little room for error if they are going to finish in the Premier League's top four this season, as they were beaten 2-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday.
Despite starting the game well and taking an early lead at Molineux through Scott McTominay, the Red Devils were pegged back by Diogo Jota's goal. In the second period Ashley Young was given a red card for two bookable offences, before a Chris Smalling own goal was enough to give Wolves victory.
The loss was United's third in four games in all competitions and sees them remain in fifth in the top-flight standings. Solskjaer believes the team need to be near-perfect if they are to finish in the top four come the end of the campaign, per Rob Dawson of ESPN FC.
"I've said we need 15 points in last seven games or 18 from the last eight," said the new United manager. "We've got three against Watford so now we need 15 in the last six, so we don't have room for many more losses, no."
Per Sky Sports Statto, it's been a long time since the Red Devils were beaten after scoring first:
"It is a difficult run, but we are a very good team so it will be difficult for those who play against us," said Solskjaer. "This was always going to be a very tough game and the performance deserved a win."
While the Red Devils flew out of the traps on Tuesday, the manner in which the team unravelled after Wolves got themselves back into the contest would have concerned Solskjaer. Per Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News, individual errors hindered the overall performance:
Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst
Performance not as bad as it was at Wolves last month but more frustrating for #mufc. Should’ve been further ahead before Jota scored but individual performances were blemished by bad mistakes. Young risk backfired badly. Until they sign one, they need a top drawer centre-back.
It was the second time in recent weeks Wolves have beaten United, although Jota didn't appear shocked by the results:
After a sensational start to life in the United hotseat, Solskjaer is enduring his worst run as Red Devils coach.
Not only have they lost three from four, in Saturday's win over Watford the Red Devils were short of their best too. After the 2-1 victory the United manager said the dressing room was "almost like a funeral" because of the manner in which the team performed.
Football journalist Daniel Harris said the team are still lacking in key areas:
While the United fans have rightly been swept up by the influence of Solskjaer in recent weeks after some incredible results, the previous four games have offered a reminder there is still a lot of surgery needed on this squad come the summer.
Although United are always an attractive proposition for players, if the Red Devils can offer Champions League football next term too, the process of strengthening the squad will be much more straightforward.