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Paul Merson: Manchester United are no longer in the title race after falling nine points behind Manchester City

Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has claimed Manchester United are already out of the Premier League title race after falling nine points behind Manchester City.

The Red Devils suffered their third league defeat of 2023-24 on Saturday against Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford having already lost two away games to Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.

Man United finished third in the Premier League last term, 14 points behind Man City after losing nine games, but bettering that already looks like a big ask.

“You’ve just got to stick with Man City for as long as you can,” Merson said in his Sky Sports column.

“Every game that goes by, you have to make sure you’re three points away from them, tops.

“For example, Manchester United are already nine points behind. They’re finished. Done. They can’t win the league – because it’s Man City.

“If it’s any other team you can go, ‘Oh if you put a run together, you never know’. But City are not losing four or five games.

“You have to start well. Look at Arsenal last season. Look at when Jose Mourinho won the league at Chelsea. He always started well, always.”

Man United were regarded as title challengers at a point last term before stuttering towards the end of the campaign, but they ended up winning the Carabao Cup and reaching the final of the FA Cup.

However, they could struggle to win silverware this term following their dismal start to the season.

Finishing in the top four could also prove difficult for them if nothing changes going forward, and even their most optimistic fans would not regard them as title challengers.

They spent £229 million recruiting new players last summer while £182m was spent during the latest transfer window, but they have had nothing to show for it.

To be fair, injuries have hindered manager Erik ten Hag from selecting his best players, but it is not an excuse for the type of performance and tactics on display against Brighton.

Mason Mount, Raphael Varane, Sofyan Amrabat, Luke Shaw, Kobbie Mainoo, Amad Diallo Traore and Tyrell Malacia are unavailable due to the knocks, while Jadon Sancho and Antony dos Santos are out due to disciplinary issues.

Having most of them back will be a huge boost for Man United. Hopefully, it will not be too late by then.

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