The Manchester United manager, Louis van Gaal, was shocked by his side's "unacceptable" performance against Burnley in midweek, according to defender Chris Smalling.
Smalling said the United players were left in no doubt about the Dutch manager's discontent, despite his side going on to win the game 3-1.
"We were lucky to get away with that first-half performance," said Smalling. "The manager said in the dressing room that the first half was unacceptable and all the players know that. I think the manager was shocked at half-time.
"As players, we knew that it wasn't good enough and we had to stand up and fight in the second half. They had been winning a lot of the first and second balls. From one to 11, I don't think we were good enough.
"It was a strange game in that the first half was probably the worst we've had all season, we were lucky to go into the break with a lead. In the second half we fought and played a lot better. If we can win games playing that badly, then it shows that if we do play well and it all clicks, then there will be a lot better performances at Old Trafford, that's for sure."
The performance was a reminder of how much work Van Gaal has to do to create a side capable of winning the title. He will hold a transfer summit with the club's American owners as another major spending spree is considered ahead of next season.
The Dutch manager confirmed he would be speaking to Joel and Avram Glazer about the long-term strategy in maintaining and reshaping his squad during the pair's current visit to Manchester, which has included attending United's win over Burnley.
Although future signings are sure to be discussed, top of the agenda is likely to be confirming the long-term future of David de Gea, who has been linked with Real Madrid and has been tipped as the source of the next major payday for agent Jorge Mendes should he strike a world-record deal for a goalkeeper.
United will want the Spaniard tied down for a prolonged period but will probably have to make De Gea one of the highest paid keepers on the planet - as well as arranging a handsome commission with his representative to make it happen.
They also have the complicated issue of Radamel Falcao's future to consider before the end of the season, with the Colombian's poor form not justifying the kind of pounds 40?million fee under discussion to make his switch to Old Trafford permanent. Given Mendes also represents Falcao, it will be a test of Van Gaal and chief executive Ed Woodward's diplomatic skills to ensure the right outcome in both the De Gea and Falcao negotiations.
United also have an extensive list of summer targets, including Roma's Kevin Strootman, Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels, and the -Athletic Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte, a 20-year-old French defender.
Meanwhile, the financial cost of United losing their Champions League status has been highlighted in the club's latest accounts. Revenue fell by 12.2 per cent to pounds 194.4?million for the six months until the end of December.
Sponsorship and TV revenue were impacted by United's lack of European football, although this was offset by the club signing new commercial deals this season.