New manager. Same problems.
Erik ten Hag was hit with a harsh dose of reality in his very first competitive game as Manchester United manager as Brighton beat Manchester United for the first time ever at Old Trafford.
Even before kick-off, the line up looked weak on paper and very familiar to the team that struggled last season. The Dutchman’s first conundrum was finding a solution to who would play centrally in attack. With Cristiano Ronaldo not considered match fit and Anthony Martial ruled out with injury, Ten Hag confirmed it would be Christian Eriksen who would be trusted to operate in a false 9 role, which caught many by surprise. In reality, Bruno and Eriksen switched but it was very rarely effective and it’s fair to assume we won’t see a repeat of this experiment any time soon.
Another new era began in familiar fashion with United struggling to get a foothold in the game and Brighton comfortable for large spells. Despite an effort to get something out of the game after Brighton stormed into a deserved two goal lead, United’s efforts were in vain. An own goal forced by Diogo Dalot setup an interesting last 20 minutes but Ten Hag’s men couldn’t find a way through Brighton’s stubborn defence.
The Erik ten Hag era starts with defeat at Old Trafford and a stark reminder of the words that the man himself has uttered before - he is not a magician.
David de Gea - 3/10
The big question over David De Gea is if he will be able to adapt his game under Erik ten Hag. There are positive early signs in how he will look short rather than going long although he still looks uncomfortable when pressed. Should have done much better for Brighton’s second on the initial save.
Diogo Dalot - 4/10
An early heavy touch led to a chance for Trossard which he hit into the side netting. Did well to cover for Maguire and Martinez when Welbeck found himself in United’s box with acres of space. He was good in possession for the majority with some nice forward passes to move United up the pitch. Had a hand in United’s goal - quite literally - which led to Mac Allister putting the ball into his own net.
Harry Maguire - 3/10
Nowhere for Brighton’s first goal and his lack of awareness was evident again, playing Danny Welbeck onside. He was given the run-around by both Trossard and Welbeck. Booked after getting involved in a needless tussle with Trossard.
Lisandro Martinez - 4/10
The world seems to slow down when he has the ball. Despite the horror show, he showed why he could be a crucial part in how Ten Hag wants to build from the back. Broke the lines well and was aggressive in winning the ball at the right times. Seemingly the only defender alive to the danger for Brighton’s first goal but still couldn’t do enough. Booked in the first half after United had lost control of the game. Very lucky not to give away a penalty after a shove on Welbeck. Certainly not the worst on the pitch but a very tough debut.
Luke Shaw - 3/10
Had a hand in both of Brighton’s goals. Caught sleeping for the first and for the second waited far too long to confront March which allowed the initial shot. Left huge spaces down the left for Brighton to penetrate. Malacia should start next week.
Scott McTominay - 1/10
Weak in duels which cost United a couple of times. Tripped himself up when trying to carry the ball forward which summed up his performance. Lost the ball in the lead up to Brighton’s first goal and gave the ball away which led to a chance for Welbeck early in the second half. Lucky not to see red after a reckless challenge on Caicedo which he was booked for. His Hall of Shame performance ended in the 78th minute, coming off for Donny van de Beek.
Fred - 2/10
He struggled all afternoon, playing in a deeper role which doesn’t necessarily suit him. Gave the ball away with a loose pass to give Trossard another early opportunity but he recovered well. Another shot from 40 yards in the first half made me reach for the vodka. Too slow to react for Brighton’s second and allowed Gross to tap home into an empty net. He was the first to be sacrificed, departing the pitch for Ronaldo in the 53rd minute.
Christian Eriksen - 4/10
Seemed to settle into the false 9 position well. Could have perhaps done better with a chance around the 24 minute mark when Bruno slipped him in but appeared to stumble and didn’t make clean contact. Struggled to influence the game and much like Martinez had a very tough first outing for his new club.
Jadon Sancho - 5/10
Anything good United did seemed to involve Sancho. Released McTominay with a great pass in the first half which led to Bruno’s chance. Another fantastic switch released Bruno who then created a half-chance for Eriksen. One of the few who can come out of today with any credit - regardless of how little.
Bruno Fernandes - 2/10
Had a great chance in the first 10 minutes which he blazed over. Generally wasteful with the ball and spared a great opportunity to cross when Eriksen found him in space with a searching ball. Bruno reverted to type, particularly in the second half, where his hit and hope philosophy didn’t bear fruits as United struggled to break down Brighton.
Marcus Rashford - 2/10
He looked completely off the pace. Loose touches. Poor decision making. Often found himself in good areas but continues to run directly into defenders all too regularly. Missed a sitter on the hour mark when one on one with Sanchez. Just minutes later he spurned another chance at the back post.
Cristiano Ronaldo - 6/10
Came on for Fred in the 53rd minute with United 2-0 down. United looked much better with Ronaldo on the pitch. It didn’t take him long to make an impact, he put the ball on a plate for Rashford who hit the ball straight at the goalkeeper when one on one. Looked lively in the final third but the damage was already done.
Donny van de Beek - 5/10
Came on for McTominay with 15 to go. His time on the pitch was sparing but much like we saw in pre-season, he found it difficult to impact the game and did his best impression of the Invisible Man.
Tyrell Malacia - N/A
Alejandro Garnacho - N/A
Anthony Elanga - N/A
Featured Image Credit: Manchester United
- 5 Manchester United players that could have a huge impact at the World Cup
- Manchester United's FA Youth Cup Victory: The Atmosphere, The Development and Alejandro Garnacho
- Fulham 1-2 Manchester United: Alejandro Garnacho's dramatic late winner secures victory for Red Devils
- Player Ratings: Fulham 1-2 Manchester United (Premier League)