LONDON: Manchester United are a club sliding into civil war according to a trio of its old heroes. Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes and Gary Neville all lined up to take a kick at the club and its warring factions after the weekend defeat by West Ham.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, manager Jose Mourinho and deposed vice-captain Paul Pogba all came under attack after a 3-1 defeat in East London which added up to United’s worst start to a top-flight season since 1989. They had 10 points from seven matches in David Moyes’s blighted campaign in 2013-14 but have an inferior goal difference.

In 1989-90 Sir Alex Ferguson’s team took only seven points from their opening seven league matches

Felipe Anderson opened the scoring after five minutes for the Hammers who doubled the lead before half-time after Andriy Yarmolenko’s shot deflected in off Victor Lindelof. Substitute Marcus Rashford, returning from suspension, pulled one back before Marco Arnautovic made it three with 15 minutes remaining.

This was an unlikely way for West Ham, who have their own problems, to secure their first home league victory. Arnautovic was man of the match on his return from injury. He has contributed nine goals and seven assists in 21 games this calendar year.

Mourinho omitted Alexis Sanchez from United’s matchday squad for unexplained reasons, blamed mistakes by the officials for the first two goals and criticised the returning winger Anthony Martial for not tracking back in defence enough.

But West Ham deserved to win and exacerbate Mourinho’s nightmare week.

In midweek he stripped Pogba of his vice-captaincy on the eve of the home shootout defeat in the League Cup to Frank Lampard’s second division Derby County. The next day the two men were filmed ignoring each other at training. Against West Ham Pogba was one of the United players substituted but he was not the worst and Mourinho conceded, grudgingly, that the French World Cup winner had been “trying hard.”

United appear increasingly to be a club who have taken their eye off what matters most on the pitch in pursuit of commercial stardom on the stock exchange. Woodward’s reign has seen United unveil records for shirt sales and social media outreach. But this is two-edged sword. United’s multi-million following around the world has also opened up the club to increasingly noisy criticism across the internet.

Not only on the internet. Also on television.

Former captain Ferdinand used his presence on BT Sport, the junior partner in domestic Premier League coverage, to say: “There are some big decisions to be made at United now. There will be conversations at the top level, by the hierarchy, Ed Woodward, about the future of the manager and the squad, because the basics are not being done.

“There has to be something said about how they take the club forward. You can’t let a situation like this continue through the season. There seem to be mini-wars going on in the changing room, probably above that as well. That has to be ironed out, someone has to come in and say: ‘Get yourselves together and sort it out.’

” Sir Alex would have ironed it out. If players stepped out of line in his eyes, they were gone. Whether they were in their prime or not: David Beckham, Jaap Stam, Roy Keane, Ruud Van Nistelrroy. Something’s got to give here.”

Scholes echoed Ferdinand, saying: “This club seems to be in a bit of a mess. It just seems like a war right through the club from Ed Woodward to Mourinho and then Mourinho to his players. Something is massively wrong. Is it the end for some players? Is it the end for the manager, I don’t know. If it is the manager who goes then who is available?”

Neville agreed but was more generous to Mourinho. He said: “This mess started when United sacked David Moyes after eight months and we lost all sense of the values that the club had been built on for 100 years. It’s not the manager, it’s the lack of football leadership above him.”

Next instalment in the soap opera is tomorrow/Tuesday: home to Valencia in the Champions League.