STEVE BRUCE’S 700th game as a manager proved to be a flat affair as Hull City slumped to a wretched defeat at Old Trafford.
The toothless Tigers were well beaten as goals from Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling and Robin Van Persie clinched a routine win for Manchester United.
Losing to a club with 20 league titles to their name is, of course, nothing to be ashamed about. But there can be little doubt that Hull’s poor display is a concern, especially coming on the back of an equally poor performance in the club’s last away game - a 1-0 defeat at Burnley.
With a trip to Everton to come on Wednesday, Bruce’s men will have to improve hugely on this wretched effort if their league position is not to become even more precarious.
City started nervously, making far too many unforced errors and all that did was hand the initiative to the hosts.
Wayne Rooney was the first to threaten with a fizzing shot that flew just wide before United took the lead on 16 minutes.
More Hull errors were to blame, Nikica Jelavic and Curtis Davies initially getting in each other’s way while trying to deal with Rooney’s corner.
That saw the ball break to Smalling, who headed back across goal only for the ball to be returned in his direction by a block. With his second attempt, Smalling stabbed the ball goalwards and Allan McGregor, in trying to block, couldn’t prevent it creeping over the line.
The home side almost had a second goal eight minutes later when Ander Herrara, on for Angel Di Maria, thundered a shot goalwards that Davies did well to deflect behind with his head.
Twelve minutes before the break, it was Michael Dawson’s turn to rescue City with a fine block to deny Smalling as he met a Juan Mata cross.
Moments earlier, a blatant bodycheck by Davies on Antonio Valencia had handed the Red Devils a free-kick that Mata had only been able to fire into the wall.
City’s next big let-off came six minutes later when Robin van Persie, after being played in by Herrera, scuffed a shot that McGregor saved easily.
The visitors luck finally ran out, however, when Davies allowed a Herrera header to run across his body. Van Persie reacted quickest and laid the ball off to Rooney, who finished with aplomb from 20 yards.
Hull started the second half in a brighter fashion and David De Gea did, at least, have to make a save from Andy Robertson.
But, it came as no surprise that United should net the third goal of the afternoon when Van Persie rifled in from the edge of the area after a loose pass from Robertson.
Stephen Quinn spared Hull’s blushes further when clearing a Smalling header off the line before Dawson did the same to deny Radamel Falcao at the death.