Manchester – Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United era has promised a lot since the arrival of the former Ajax boss at the end of the 2021-22 season, but the 2022-23 season started with the same kind of performance and the same kind of results. Cristiano Ronaldo started the match off the bench and Pascal Gross scored twice in the first half to give Brighton the lead they had even after Alexis McAllister’s second-half goal. As it stands, the 2-1 win is Brighton’s first win at Old Trafford.
Report: Man United 1-2 Brighton | Premier League table | Prem next matches
Here is Rob Dawson’s reaction and ratings from today’s match.
The Ten Hag era to its worst possible start
In this way, the optimism generated by the positive summer disappeared. No one expected Tin Hag to magically fix things overnight, but there was hope that the opening matches against Brighton and Brentford had at least provided the opportunity for a good start. apparently not.
The visitors led the first half 2-0 thanks to two goals from Gross, but it could have been more than that. United were better after the break and cut the difference after Alexis McAlister’s own goal, after some questionable goalkeeping by Robert Sanchez, but Brighton still deserved the three points.
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Sunday’s match is a tough reality check for Ten Hag. His side are still feeling at least two players weak, with only three weeks left before the transfer deadline and desperately in need of a central midfielder – whether it’s Frenkie de Jong or anyone else. But even without the reinforcements, the Dutchman was still playing for a team that should have been able to beat Brighton. As it happened, Graham Potter’s side showed that the transition to a new style of football would take time. But the problem at United is that they are not more than one match away from a crisis and Ten Hag will learn that very quickly this week.
Make Ronaldo wait
With Anthony Martial sidelined with a hamstring injury, Cristiano Ronaldo appeared on the starting line, but Ten Hag kept the 37-year-old on the bench in favor of hiring Christian Eriksen as the false number 9. That’s because Ronaldo missed most of pre-season and only coached 45 minutes in summer friendlies, Ten Hag explained, but Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez didn’t spend much time playing this summer and were selected to start.
After a disastrous first half that saw United booed, it wasn’t long before Ronaldo took Fred’s place and with the Portugal forward in front, Tin Hag’s side looked even more dangerous.
Ten Hag and Ronaldo do indeed look like an uneasy union. There are doubts as to whether Ronaldo can press the way his manager wants, but United lack options and are as close as possible to their guaranteed goals. Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Ten Hag suggested Martial could be available again soon, so it will be interesting to see if Ronaldo stays on the bench again when United travel to Brentford next weekend. It’s always a big call to let go, but especially for a new manager.
Potter boosts his chances in England
Gareth Southgate’s tenure as England coach will likely come to an end after the World Cup in Qatar, and if the FA find themselves looking for a new coach, Potter will be top of the list of contenders.
Potter doesn’t have vast resources at Brighton – in fact this summer he said goodbye to Yves Bisoma and Mark Cucurella, who are key players – but season after season he is producing a team that is better than the sum of his parts. They have clearly defined gameplay and are well trained, which makes them formidable opponents for almost any team in the Premier League.
The second overall goal here was one of the best you’ve seen all season. Brighton fired the ball out of his corner flag with a series of assists and some clever moves that put United’s high pressure in tatters all over the field.
Potter led his team to ninth place last season, but if they continue to play this way, they should set their sights on a higher level. The downside for Brighton is that further success could result in their manager losing to England – although that may already be on the table.
Manchester United: David De Gea 5, Diogo Dalot 5, Harry Maguire 5, Lisandro Martinez 7, Luke Shaw 5; Fred 5, Scott McTominay 5, Christian Eriksen 6; Marcus Rashford 5, Jadon Sancho 5, Bruno Fernandes 5.
Subs: Cristiano Ronaldo 6, Donny van de Beek 6, Terrell Malacia 6, Anthony Ilanga 6, Alejandro Garnacho 6.
Brighton: Robert Sanchez 7; Joel Feltman 7, Adam Webster 7, Louis Dunk 7; Sully March 7, Alexis Mac Allister 7, Moises Caicedo 8, Leandro Trossard 7; Adam Lallana 7, Pascal Gross 8, Danny Welbeck 8.
Subs: Tariq Lamptey 6, Enoch Mwepo 6, Levi Colwell 6, Deniz Undev 6.
Best and worst performer
Best: Pascal Gross from Brighton Brighton were brilliant in the first half and Gross was an example of work rate and tactical efficiency, scoring two goals from close range after good moves – and the second in particular – tore United.
Worst: Fred, Man United United fans who arrived at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season didn’t want to see Fred and Scott McTominay in midfield, but that’s what they got. Fred was lucky to get away with the error early on and was substituted in the second half. He wasn’t alone in a bad game, but it was a day when something didn’t go well.
Highlights and Highlights
It was good to see United explain the lineup via Ten Hag on Twitter…shame it didn’t work out!
– Manchester United (ManUtd) August 7, 2022
Meanwhile, this might be the only time you’ll see Brighton’s total mentioned in the same sentence as Mohamed Salah…but well deserved nonetheless!
One brings two ✌️
Premier League (premierleague) August 7, 2022
After the match: What the managers said, the players said
“We went into the game positively, we had a good start to the season, the worst possible start was to go down 2-0 in the first half at Old Trafford. It wasn’t good enough. Everyone knows the mission. We had a bad season last season. We have a new manager trying to put his philosophy into the team but when we don’t get it right, it looks very open.” Man United defender Harry Maguire speaks to Sky Sports
“It was a great performance and a deserved win. Great way to start. I thought we had an idea of how to attack and when we could put pressure on them and put pressure on them. We were positive and brave and the boys gave everything. We have a good group: they are ambitious, they are not perfect, but they give everything and when Being a coach, that gives you a chance.”Brighton Director Graham Potter
“We can’t ask for much more. Three points from home against Manchester United. It’s a big win for us today. I’d like to score more goals against other teams, but always against Man United. I don’t know why we played really well.” The game plan was really good and we stuck with it. We had our chances and we were in front of goal.” Brighton midfielder Pascal Gross
Basic Statistics (Provided by ESPN Statistics and Information)
It was Manchester United 2-11-4 (WLD) last season when they conceded the first goal. The 11 losses were the most in a single season since 2013-14 (12 losses).
Brighton have scored more goals against Manchester United in their last two matches (6) than in their previous seven matches (5).
This is the second time in the last three campaigns that Manchester United have lost their opening game of the season (2020-21 against Crystal Palace, in what was technically Matchweek 2). From 2015-19, they won five consecutive Premier League matches.
Sunday was Brighton’s first-ever win at Old Trafford. The club was 0-12-2 (WLD) on its first 14 visits to Old Trafford in all competitions, including 8 consecutive losses entered on Sunday.
Manchester United: Tin Hag will have to put that result behind him as United face two tough matches in the coming weeks, with a trip to Brentford (13 August) followed by the arrival of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on 22 August.
Brighton: After the Old Trafford trip, Potter hosts Newcastle (13 August) before a trip across the south coast to face West Ham (21 August).