June 5, 2023

MOTD2 Analysis

New season, old Manchester United – there are few clues as to what’s coming next.

Terrible results, disappointing performances, but for Manchester United fans the worst of Sunday’s game 2-1 loss to Brighton There are not many signs of change under Erik 10 Hag.

When you analyze either side on the opening weekend of the season, you have to be careful not to get carried away, especially when this is the manager’s first game with his new team.

I am a firm believer that even the best managers with the best ideas need time to implement them successfully in the Premier League.

However, in United’s case, fans usually want to see what their new boss has been up to and understand the kind of play he wants to implement.

You’re more forgiving if things don’t go right on the pitch right away, but you still want to see some signs that everything will come together when it all starts.

However, there are not many such signs at Old Trafford. Instead, it felt like there were a lot of crossed wires in the first game that Ten Haag was in charge of.

It was a fresh start for United, but their conceding against the Seagulls was a reminder of why they were so bad last season, when they were too easy to play and left too much space for opponents.

But even without considering what went wrong every time Pascal Gross scored, overall it didn’t seem clear what United wanted to do.

Manchester United are starting to doubt themselves

Of course, you have to give Brighton credit here too. Graham Potter’s team is a good team, the way they play is comfortable and they press Manchester United very well.

United at times tried to attack from the back early in the game, but when they lost the ball they quickly lost confidence.

They start to doubt themselves and start going far, even if they don’t have a center to hit the ball.

I’m sure Ten Witch wanted them to play more, but they lost their way and falling behind only made things worse.

Down 2-0 they were only one mountain to climb and although they were better in the second half, it was hard to tell when Christian Eriksen stepped back deeper and received the ball They deserve nothing from the game.

Manchester United need a contact – and a new striker too?

You can understand why Ten Haag would have worked so hard to sign Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona.

He clearly wants someone who can easily take the ball away from defenders and connect the game at the bottom of his midfield.

Manchester United starting line-up against Brighton: De Gea, Dalot, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw, Fernandes, Fred, McTominay, Rashford, Eriksen, Sancho
Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez are Manchester United’s only new signings against Brighton

According to Cristiano Ronaldo, who is out of shape but coming off the bench in the second half on Sunday, they may also need a new striker.

Whichever way United play, they need an attacking focal point, which they didn’t have against Brighton.

So, there may be some new faces coming to Old Trafford before the end of the transfer window, but let’s not forget that Ten Hager is still learning about his current squad.

Ten witches need to figure out who he trusts

In those 90 minutes on Sunday, Ten Hager will know more about his players than he did in the 40 days he’d worked with them before.

There are several ways in which pre-season is completely different from competitive play in the Premier League. Coping with stress is just one of them.

For example, if you have a coach like Ten Hager who wants to attack from the back, you’ll be more confident doing it in friendlies because you know mistakes don’t matter.

It’s a very different story when you’re in front of 70,000 fans at Old Trafford and you’re making a wrong pass in your own half. It takes more courage to keep going.

So, while Ten Hager will see what his team looks like in the summer, he’s only starting to see the true character of his players now that the season has really started.

He’ll need some time to identify who he really trusts, and who he doesn’t — not to mention any new signings that happen later this month.

Ten Haig takes time – and his own signing

Everyone wants to improve overnight, especially Manchester United fans who have long been hungry for success, but the reality is that it won’t happen at Old Trafford.

Snapshot of how the top of the Premier League was done last season: 1st Manchester City, 2nd Liverpool, 3rd Chelsea, 4th Tottenham, 5th Arsenal and 6th Manchester United
Manchester United’s scoring last season was the lowest since the Premier League era began in 1992

Nine of United’s squad against Brighton last season were at the club when they were underwhelming, so you can’t really expect to have so many of the same personnel and fortunes to change dramatically or instantly.

United’s lack of intelligence against Brighton, but also a strange lack of energy at times, I can’t fully address because some of them are fighting for their future.

So, while this is far from an ideal start for Ten Haag, it’s a clearer sign that he’ll have to be able to bring in more new signings.

You have to give Ten Hag time to implement his ideas and get him to bring in some of his own players to make them work.

Danny Murphy is talking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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