Ten Hag era at United begins with home defeat to Brighton
New manager Erik ten Hag saw the depth of the crisis at Manchester United when his side fell to a 2-1 Premier League defeat by Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford on Sunday (August 7), with German Pascal Gross scoring twice.
United fans' hopes that the off-season would mark a turning point have faded, with the club failing to make major moves yet in the transfer market and there was a grim familiarity to the club's opening match.
The former Ajax coach witnessed a performance that was every bit as disjointed as those produced under his predecessors Ralf Rangnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season.
"I think it was a good start. And then after, we dropped down a level. We dropped down in belief. And we made mistakes and the opponent punished us. But I think it’s a good opponent. They’ve worked long (a long time) together. And when you make mistakes, you get punished for that against such teams.” ERIC TEN HAG Said
“I think we should have done better. That’s clear. But I know also that it will not come overnight. Sometimes we play better in the preseason. Today, we had a really bad period in the first half. And now we have to learn from that. That’s also clear.”
The sense that this was a continuation of last year's decline began before kick-off where there were yet more loud and angry protests against United's owners, the American Glazer family, under the South Stand.
If that felt familiar, then the sight of Scott McTominay and Fred in midfield as United laboured against Graham Potter's superbly drilled side was verging on deja vu.
“I think from day to day, game to game, we have to win every game. That has to be the attitude. So, it’s definitely clear that we are not happy with this game. And we have to take the lessons and move forward.” TEN HAG add.
United had been shambolic in their 4-0 loss at Brighton in May and, even with debuts for defender Lisandro Martinez and midfielder Christian Eriksen, little felt new or changed about the performance.
Brighton took the lead on the half-hour with Leandro Trossard finding former United forward Danny Welbeck who squared the ball to the back post for Gross to slot home.
Nine minutes later, Gross doubled the lead, with his sixth career goal against United, after David De Gea had poorly pushed out a Solly March drive right into the path of the German who again made no mistake.
Ten Hag introduced Cristiano Ronaldo in the 53rd minute and the Portugal forward, who is reported to want to leave the club, provided the spark for United's attempted comeback.
The home side gave themselves a foothold in the 68th minute when a goalmouth scramble ended with Alexis Mac Allister turning the ball into his own net but Brighton held on for a second straight win against United and their first ever at Old Trafford.