Erik ten Hag’s reign at Manchester United began with a home defeat to Brighton and, 13 months on, there was a huge sense of déjà vu as Brighton unleashed an onslaught at Old Trafford on Saturday. , winning 3-1 to end United’s year-long unbeaten streak at home. Brighton had a different chief at the time, and although they had gone far under the direction of Graham Potter, they made an astonishing improvement under the guidance of Roberto De Zerbi, who led led them into Europe for the first time.
Meanwhile, United returned to its original starting point. They are weaker, even weaker, in defense than at the start of last season, and they are seriously lacking creativity in attack. Marcus Rashford was the only player who looked capable of doing much damage on Saturday, with Bruno Fernandes looking held back, Christian Eriksen struggling to make an impact and Casemiro looking out of touch with his power and class. showed off last season.
How will United continue to adjust from here? Last August, they still had time to fix their problems in the transfer market, signing Casemiro and then Antony. But now, they have finished their job and the transfer window closed two weeks ago. Meanwhile, they are without Antony and Jadon Sancho for non-sporting reasons and have a lengthy injury list, just three aspects of a myriad of growing problems for Ten Hag. in the past three months.
The arrival of Ten Hag last season gave hope to United after a series of poor managerial appointments since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. He delivered his first title in six years and appeared to raise standards off the field. But instead of moving forward this season and getting into the title race, it feels like they’re going backwards.
United actually got off to a good start against Brighton, looking dangerous in the opening 15 minutes. But Brighton scored with their first chance almost solely thanks to United’s very weak defending.
Sergio Reguilon, who made his debut in this match, was caught by surprise and a simple pass removed him from the situation, allowing Danny Welbeck to release Simon Adingra down the right wing and into the area. Lisandro Martinez tried weakly to block Adingra’s pass, while Victor Lindelof lost sight of Welbeck and the ball, allowing the former United striker to score.
The second goal from Pascal Gross, who scored two goals in last season’s win, was the result of poor anticipation from United’s centre-back pairing. Both Lindelof and Martinez were confused by Tariq Lamptey’s pass to Gross, with Martinez not even realizing the danger until it was too late. There was also little cooperation between United’s midfield and defense when Joao Pedro scored.
Based on the performance at Old Trafford and in the previous four games, it is difficult to understand how Ten Hag’s side kept more clean sheets than any other team in the Premier League last season. They have conceded 10 goals so far this season, only Wolves and Burnley have conceded more.
“We have to improve that. There are things from the team and each individual that have to improve. Sometimes you have a bad period, a difficult period and you have to face it and deal with it. We don’t We can’t blame anyone else, we have to do better and be more determined and stronger,” Ten Hag said about defense.