Man Utd winners, losers and ratings as Ten Hag's disastrous debut highlights need for new signings

Erik ten Hag Manchester United 2022-23
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The Dutchman's reign began in shambolic fashion as he suffered a 2-1 defeat to Brighton at Old Trafford

Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United reign got off to the worst possible start after his side were stunned by Brighton.

A first-half double from Pascal Gross put Graham Potter’s side in control – and despite a second half fightback, United only had Alexis Mac Allister’s own goal to show for their efforts in a 2-1 defeat.

Cristiano Ronaldo was introduced from the bench early in the second half, but the want-away forward could not inspire United like he did on so many occasions last term.

There were smatterings of boos at half-time as the home side trudged off the pitch, with Brighton fans taunting Ten Hag with chants of “You’re getting sacked in the morning.”

And while that's not going to happen, this wasn't a great way to begin his tenure.

  1. The Winners
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    The Winners

    Anthony Martial

    This was a good one to miss, no doubt about it.

    No-one at United would have wanted to be associated with such a shambolic performance – and Martial, who was so impressive in pre-season, will only have seen his reputation grow by his absence.

    United were crying out for his presence at the point of their attack, with Christian Eriksen struggling badly as a makeshift false nine in the first half.

    Red Bull Salzburg & Bologna

    Or basically any club whose striker has been linked with United over the past week.

    Before kick-off here, United were strongly linked with a move for veteran former Stoke and West Ham forward Marko Arnautovic, who is now playing for Bologna. It sounds like a move of desperation and this defeat will only add to the sense of panic within Old Trafford.

    United also want Salzburg teenager Benjamin Sesko, but are reluctant to pay in the region of £50 million ($60.3m) for the 19-year-old. After watching this, Salzburg might just think they can hold out for their full asking price.

    Erik ten Hag

    Although this was a miserable start for the Dutchman, he will surely now have a stronger case to go to his superiors and demand money to save the season before the close of the transfer window.

    He has been badly let down by those above him after being forced to go into the campaign with key signings still to be secured.

  2. The Losers
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    The Losers

    Erik ten Hag

    Ten Hag's reign could hardly have gotten off to a worse start and the pressure is well and truly on from here-on in.

    Next week’s game against Brentford is a must-win, while Liverpool are the next visitors to Old Trafford.

    He spoke before the game of the need to win ugly. But this was the ugliest of defeats, while the big call to leave Ronaldo out of his starting line-up blew up in his face.

    McFred

    United fans were dismayed to see the midfield pairing start yet again – and they were totally ineffective as Brighton burst forward with pace.

    The need to play Scott McTominay and Fred as a duo threatens to keep holding United back, with neither trusted on their own.

    No wonder Ten Hag is so desperate to bring in a top-class holding midfielder, with Frenkie de Jong still his top target.

    The Glazers/Richard Arnold

    Avi Glazer was in the ground to witness this mess first hand. He may not have seen the pre-match protests outside, but the discontent will only grow louder after this performance.

    No surprise, then, that he made a hasty exit after the final whistle.

    The Glazers and chief executive, Richard Arnold, have a lot of work on their hands before the transfer window closes. If a move for Arnautovic does materialise, it is unlikely to ease tensions.

  3. Man Utd Ratings: Defence
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    Man Utd Ratings: Defence

    De Gea (6/10)

    Could do little about either goal. Badly let down by his defence on a number of occasions.

    Dalot (6/10)

    Much more effective in attack than defence. Sparked the panic that led to Mac Allister’s own goal and played as a virtual winger for the last 25 minutes.

    Maguire (5/10)

    Too much space between him and Dalot allowed Danny Welbeck to capitalise as Brighton took the lead. Part of a very shaky rear-guard, but some encouraging signs of him carrying the ball out from the back.

    Martinez (6/10)

    Welcome to English football. Struggled to track Brighton’s forward runners and it will clearly take time for him to build an understanding with Maguire. But these are early days and he improved as the game went on.

    Shaw (5/10)

    Got forward well in support, but allowed Mac Allister far too much time to get his shot off in the build-up to Brighton’s second. Delivery wasn’t good enough.

  4. Midfield
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    Midfield

    McTominay (4/10)

    Caught out in build-up to the opening goal and fortunate to just get a yellow for a foul on Moises Caicedo. Ended up playing as an attacking midfielder as Ten Hag pushed for a comeback.

    Fred (5/10)

    Important challenge snuffed out an early, dangerous Leandro Trossard attack. Didn’t use the ball well enough – but it was still a surprise to see him sacrificed for Ronaldo instead of McTominay.

    Eriksen (6/10)

    Arguably at his most effective when dropped back into a holding role, where he could pick his passes. Should have done much better with a first half effort that was tamely fired straight at Robert Sanchez.

    Fernandes (6/10)

    Great chance to open the scoring early on, but couldn’t even hit the target from inside the area. Better when Ronaldo came on and it was his corner that led to the own goal.

  5. Attack
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    Attack

    Sancho (4/10)

    Largely anonymous – it was a surprise he stayed on until the 90th minute, given just how ineffective he was. Delivery was poor time and again.

    Rashford (5/10)

    As lively as any of United’s forwards, but didn’t work the keeper anything like enough. Offside flag saved his blushes when failing to convert Ronaldo’s cross – but replays suggested the goal would have stood.

  6. Manager & Subs
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    Manager & Subs

    Ten Hag (4/10)

    Made a big call by leaving Ronaldo out of his starting XI, which felt like a statement, given his lack of options up front.

    It didn’t pay off, and United’s sluggish start does not reflect well on the manager.

    He at least got a reaction from them after the break, but the timing of his substitutions were questionable, not least, waiting until the 90th minute to bring on three players.

    Ronaldo (5/10)

    United undoubtedly improved after he came on.

    Van de Beek (4/10)

    Plenty of touches, but little impact.

    Garnacho (N/A)

    Elanga (N/A)

    Malacia (N/A)