Ole Gunnar Solskjaer acknowledged Manchester United are already facing a monumental task to challenge for Champions League qualification in the Premier League.

United slumped to their third Premier League defeat of the season as Matty Longstaff’s debut goal earned Newcastle United a 1-0 win at St James’ Park on Sunday.

The Red Devils have now made their worst start to a league campaign since 1989-90, with Solskjaer’s side managing just two wins from their eight matches so far.

Things do not get any easier for United, who welcome league leaders Liverpool to Old Trafford after the international break on October 20.

Solskjaer, however, believes United – who could be boosted by the return of Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba from injury – can use the Liverpool fixture as a chance to push on, though he acknowledged his team need to start picking up points swiftly.

“Very symptomatic of where we are at the moment. We don’t create enough chances to deserve to win a game of football, that’s the short version,” Solskjaer, who has taken just 17 points since taking permanent charge of United, told a news conference.

“We have given ourselves a very tough task to get into the top four. We need points straight away, get on a run. We need momentum.

“I can’t tell you what is acceptable, every game should be one you need to win at this club but at the moment we can’t win games, especially away from home.

“But we have the perfect opportunity to get players back and get supporters’ mood up with Liverpool at home.

“We’re unhappy with the results, they bring down the mood in everyone. I’ve got to say sorry to the fans that we’re not winning games but that is down to starting a rebuild.

“This is not a similar situation to when I was sat after a [4-0 defeat at] Everton last season, when I felt people had given up. These boys give everything they have got for the shirt and we’ll get there again.”

Harry Maguire should have given United the lead before half-time, only to head wide from six yards out – a miss which Solskjaer believes sums up the club’s current form.

“I missed bigger chances. If you’re 2-0 up and your team’s winning every game, he’d close his eyes and score,” Solskjaer said.

“At the moment it’s just not going for us. He knows and we know it’s a big opportunity in the game. I’ve talked about these moments many times over the last month, we have to grasp the moment when it’s there. We didn’t and we need to clear our heads and get ready for Liverpool.”