Four things Erik ten Hag got wrong as Man Utd are beaten by Brighton

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The Erik ten Hag era is off to the worst possible start after Manchester United lost 2-1 to Brighton at Old Trafford.

A Pascal Groß double in the first half set the tone with United carrying their poor form from the season prior over into the new campaign.

An Alexis Mac Allister own goal in the second half pulled one back for the Red Devils, but they couldn't find an equaliser, despite dominating the ball for the final 45 minutes.

Here, Daily Star Sport has taken a look at four things Ten Hag got wrong…

READ MORE: Man Utd break tradition on night before Old Trafford matches for new Erik ten Hag rule

Not starting Ronaldo

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but leaving Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench really cost United this afternoon.

Given his recent behaviour, the sulky 37-year-old didn't deserve to start, but Ten Hag's side were calling out for a little final-third decisiveness from the get-go – something Ronaldo would've provided in abundance, for better or worse.

Whether he has a future at United remains to be seen, but until Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial are ready to fill his shoes (which they aren't), Ten Hag might as well squeeze a few goals out of him.

He came on seven minutes into the second half, but with Brighton more or less shutting up shop, genuine chances were few and far between.

What did you make of United's performance? Let us know in the comments section below.

Not starting Varane

United were all over the place at the back and were crying out for an experienced head to calm the nerves after Brighton's first goal went in.

Ten Hag went with Harry Maguire and Lisandro Martinez in central defence, though given the former's torrid recent form, and the latter's inexperience, it was the wrong choice.

Raphael Varane's United career hasn't gone completely to plan, but his composure would have really come in handy – especially in the first half when Brighton were running United ragged.

Using a fluid system in midfield

One of the biggest surprises before the game was seeing Christian Eriksen start as a false nine. In reality, he had more of a fluid role and found himself dropping deep to aid in the build up, though it needlessly complicated things.

Bruno Fernandes, who on paper had the No 10 role, was up and down like a see-saw, while Fred and Scott McTominay, who started in central midfield, found themselves in bizarrely advanced positions – which opened up massive spaces for Brighton to play into.

Perhaps, eventually, Ten Hag-ball will work, but right now United could really do with going back to basics. They need a solid, structured midfield to protect their shaky defence, not a jumbled scribble of bodies doing a hundred different roles.

Not buying a defensive midfielder

Ten Hag has spent the summer relentlessly chasing Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong, and while the Dutchman would certainly improve their midfield, what they really need is a bit of steel.

Fred and McTominay just aren't up to snuff, especially for team with top four ambitions, and it really showed in the first half as massive holes opened for Brighton to exploit.

Ten Hag's teams traditionally don't have midfielder destroyers in them, but given the physicality of the Premier League, he might just have to reconsider his stance. £100million for Declan Rice, anyone?


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  • Manchester United FC
  • Erik ten Hag
  • Brighton Hove Albion FC
  • Premier League

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