Ralf Rangnick apologised to Manchester United’s supporters and branded their 4-0 thrashing at Brighton “humiliating” and “unacceptable”.
United’s players were subjected to chants of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” from their own fans as they were outclassed and outfought on a remarkable evening at the Amex Stadium.
A chastening defeat on the south coast ensured the 20-time English champions will finish with their lowest points tally of the Premier League era and extinguished slender hopes of Champions League qualification.
“To start with, it’s important that we apologise to our supporters who came all the way from Manchester to Brighton,” said interim manager Rangnick.
“We were just not good enough from start to finish. The performance was not only poor, it was extremely poor.
“It was a humiliating defeat and even more so for a team like Manchester United.
“It’s not only that you lose 4-0, it was also the way we played and this is just unacceptable, very difficult to deal with and to cope.”
Protesting travelling fans once again took aim at United’s owners, with chants of “love United, hate Glazers” and “we want Glazers out” ringing out early in the game.
They later vocally questioned the commitment of their side following goals from Albion quartet Moises Caicedo, Marc Cucurella, Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard.
Sixth-placed United can now only accumulate a maximum total of 61 points this term – three fewer than they managed in 2013-14, which began under David Moyes and finished with the caretaker management of Ryan Giggs.
Rangnick, whose side arrived in Sussex following a 3-0 win over Brentford in his final match at Old Trafford, brushed off question marks about a lack of desire in his squad.
“I have to defend the players,” said the German. “I don’t think that they are (uncaring).
“I saw them in training. I saw them against Brentford.
“We had a good week of training with good atmosphere, with good focus on the training sessions.
“But I remember me watching the game against Watford away, 4-1 (under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer), who are now relegated, and this looked very similar to what happened today.
“For me, the problem is how to defend as a team. If you do not defend properly, if you give them all the space and time in the world, this is the result.”