As Brighton defeated Manchester United 2-1 on the opening weekend of the Premier League, Erik ten Hag’s tenure as Manchester United manager got off to a disastrous start. After a terrible 2021/22 season, United had some hope for a new beginning, but in the first 45 minutes, Pascal Gross scored twice to give Brighton the lead. The magnitude of the task facing Ten Hag is demonstrated by the fact that although Alexis Mac Allister’s own goal gave United a foothold in the game, they rarely looked like pulling even.
Cristiano Ronaldo was benched by the former Ajax manager because he had only started preseason practice last week. According to reports, Ronaldo wants to leave Old Trafford so he can compete in the Champions League this year. However, without the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, United’s assault lacked focus as Christian Eriksen began the game in an unaccustomed position as a false nine. Bruno Fernandes’ spectacular miss on the sixth minute might have drastically altered the result.
The apex of United’s dreadful season, in which they ended sixth in the Premier League, came in a 4-0 defeat at Brighton in May, when the Seagulls swiftly fell into their passing rhythm. Graham Potter’s team have lost two of their greatest players during the transfer season, with Yves Bissouma joining Tottenham and Marc Cucurella joining Chelsea last week for a club-record fee of more than £60 million ($72 million). But it didn’t matter since Brighton exploited the same faults in United’s wide-open midfield to easily dismantle Ten Hag’s side.
Ronaldo’s entrance early in the second half at least increased the volume inside Old Trafford, causing United to respond.
One of the numerous issues Ten Hag faces is regaining Marcus Rashford’s peak form.
Rashford seemed rejuvenated during pre-season, but he was unable to make an impact when it most, as Robert Sanchez produced a superb save to deny the England international’s shot from Ronaldo’s perfect cross.
Sanchez undid United’s hard work, giving them a lifeline 22 minutes from time. However, the expected siege on the Brighton goal failed to materialize, as the visitors comfortably saw out the final moments for a memorable victory.
However, the expected siege on Brighton’s goal did not materialize, as the visitors comfortably saw out the final moments for a memorable victory.