This is how Manchester United lose the Premier League title race, not with a fight but with a whimper.

It was already pretty much nailed-on that Manchester City would lift the trophy, but José Mourinho's side was still mathematically in it - until they lost at home to the worst team in the league, that is.

After their heroics at the Etihad, United suffered the ignominy of being defeated 1-0 at Old Trafford by West Brom, thanks to a second-half header from Jay Rodriguez.

Paul Pogba's dazzling performance put the Champions-elect to the sword last week, but the Manchester United man went missing against the Baggies, surfacing only to try and punch the ball over the line, only to receive a yellow card for his troubles.

Mourinho will have been well aware that City was going to win the title at some point anyway, but the lack of fight from his players will have been cause for concern.

'We were deservedly punished'

This frank assessment from the Portuguese manager tells you everything you need to know about United's performance - a laboured, lacklustre loss of both the match and the title.

They were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty after Craig Dawson appeared to trip Ander Herrera in the first half, however, referee Paul Tierney was unmoved.

Romelu Lukaku's header forced an excellent save from the evergreen Ben Foster after the break, but that was about as close as the Red Devils ever came to penetrating an uncharacteristically resilient Baggies defence.

And then came the sucker punch - a 72nd-minute corner was inexplicably headed back across goal by Nemanja Matic, and there was the unmarked Rodriguez to head home.

United had no answer, and the title was officially lost.

'We have important weeks ahead'

Speaking to MUTV after the game, Juan Mata stressed the team will recover and turn their attention to their looming FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur next week.

He said: "We know we have to compete until the last week. It’s been a long season but we need to make sure we can compete until the end, that we keep that second position and we fight for being in another FA Cup final and try to win it."

Their dismal defeat at the hands of the Premier League's bottom side left a bitter taste in the mouth of United fans as raucous booing filled Old Trafford at full-time, and while lifting the FA Cup would certainly give them something to smile about, the embarrassment of handing their rivals the title with such a capitulation will not be easily forgotten by fans either side of Manchester.

As for the future of the manager, it may be necessary to win the historic trophy in order for Mourinho to be safe in his job, and even then it may not be enough.