Erik Ten Hag’s reign as Manchester United manager got off to a humbling start as the Old Trafford outfit slipped to a deserved 2-1 defeat against a quality Brighton side today.
The game looked like an open affair right from the off with both sides leaving plenty of space all over the park. Man United would almost take the lead after just six minutes, but Portuguese playmaker Bruno Fernandes blasted high and wide after he was handed an excellent opportunity from 12 yards out.
Brighton striker Danny Welbeck was causing United’s centre-backs all sorts of problems with his movement and just before the half-hour mark the Seagulls would take the lead through that very avenue. The former United academy graduate was slipped in behind the home defence down the left before his cutback was coolly slotted home at the back stick by Pascal Gross.
Graeme Potter’s impressive side began to dominate both tactically and technically and on 38 minutes they would deservedly go two up. German midfielder Gross once again arrived at the back post to stroke home, this time after a flowing team move from deep inside their own half.
Five minutes after the break Ten Hag would be forced to turn to want-away attacker Cristiano Ronaldo and United did look more of a threat after previously playing with Christian Eriksen as a false nine.
United still lacked fluidity though and continued to make embarrassing errors in possession, although Marcus Rashford twice went close to scoring after finding himself on the end of crosses from the right.
On 68 minutes the Old Trafford faithful were finally given something to shout about when a mistake by Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez from a corner ended up with Alexis Mac Allister scuffing the ball into his own net.
Diogo Dalot stung the palms of Sanchez soon after and as the home crowd got behind their side it seemed like Ten Hag’s side could go on at the very least find an equaliser. However, Potter’s men used their intelligence to take the wind out of United’s sails and when Paul Tierney blew the final whistle after five minutes of injury time it was Brighton who ended the game in complete control.
🗣 “Fred and McTominay, not good enough. They won’t get Man United competing at the top.”
Roy Keane is not impressed with Manchester United’s midfield pic.twitter.com/JwNI2wNdAt
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) August 7, 2022
Speaking afterwards Man United boss Erik Ten Hag admitted today’s result was a major setback for him and his team.
“Definitely a setback,” Ten Hag told Sky Sports.
”A real disappointment this but we have to deal with it. I knew from the start it would not be easy, it is a process and it takes time but we don’t have time, we have to win games. We should have done it better.
“I analysed it and it was unnecessary how we gave away two easy balls. I think the organisation was a big mistake. We have to analyse and have to take the lessons.”
The Dutch coach went on to say that while he couldn’t fault his side’s application they were ultimately undone by sloppy mistakes.
“I am not satisfied, totally not happy because we lost and it was totally not necessary. We should have done things better,” the former Ajax manager said.
“I knew before it was not easy to construct it and develop it, this takes time but I know at the top you don’t have time.
“The reaction in the second half we were acting as one team, we were battling for the result. It wasn’t that we didn’t battle or didn’t have the right attitude, we made mistakes.
“We have to take the lessons and learn from it.”
Next up for United is an away trip to face Brentford next Saturday evening.