Ten Hag’s United smashed by Pascal Gross in dissapointing 2-1 defeat

Brighton held off a late onslaught to claim their first victory at Old Trafford, condemning Erik ten Hag to a losing start as Manchester United manager.

Pascal Gross’ first-half double stunned the home fans, who were eager to see their team put a disappointing season behind them.

However, United were completely outplayed in the first half by Graham Potter’s side, who beat them 4-0 at the Amex Stadium in May on their way to their highest-ever Premier League ninth-place finish.

Even the introduction of Cristiano Ronaldo in the second half couldn’t stop Brighton, though United threatened a comeback when Alexis Mac Allister turned the ball into his own net after goalkeeper Robert Sanchez had touched it into his path under pressure from Harry Maguire.

Brighton had only managed one draw in their previous nine league visits, so this victory was historic.

“Losing this game was unnecessary,” Ten Hag said.

“I think it was a good start, but after [the first goal], we dropped a level, dropped in belief, and made mistakes, which the opponent punished.”

“But I think it’s a good opponent; they’ve been working together for a long time, and mistakes are punished against such teams.”

United face the same issues in the new season.

There was a sense of optimism around United before kickoff, with the sun shining and a new manager in place.

Ten Hag has begun to impose his personality on the club, even evicting some of the ‘prawn-sandwich brigade’ from corporate hospitality suites so his players could eat their pre-match meal.

Nonetheless, many of the old issues persisted. Protests against the United owners forced the club shop to close before kickoff.

Avie Glazer, co-chairman of the club, was paying a rare visit and would have heard the songs to his left calling for his family to leave the club.

Despite decent debuts from Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez, there was no cohesion on the field.

Brighton, who was well-drilled and fluid, capitalized. Within 15 seconds of the game’s start, Leandro Trossard volleyed into the side-netting, and United failed to impose themselves until it was far too late.

Welbeck’s first-half run separated Maguire and Martinez. As United’s defense scrambled to plug the gaps, Gross was on his own to tap home at the far post.

When Solly March cut inside and unleashed a low shot that keeper David de Gea turned into his path, he was in a similar position but on the opposite post.

The boos that greeted the half-time whistle were both predictable and well-deserved. Ronaldo was introduced to try and lead a rescue mission within eight minutes of the restart.

The 37-year-old made no difference. Another Portuguese, Diogo Dalot, was responsible for the confusion that led to United’s goal. By the end, however, Brighton appeared to be the team more likely to score again.

Potter’s fantastic work

Potter’s influence at Brighton should not be underestimated in the midst of United’s inevitable soul-searching following this dreadful result.

He has lost Yves Bissouma and Marc Cucurella for a total of £88 million from the team that defeated Manchester United in May. Dan Ashworth, the director of football, has also left. This match was started by none of Brighton’s summer signings.

They did, however, move the ball with a purpose that United did not, and Welbeck was a particular threat against his former club.

Gross and Trossard were both outstanding, and even without Bissouma, Brighton controlled midfield to prevent United from turning their industry into something more tangible.

It’s no surprise that the ecstatic visiting fans chanted, “Can we play you every week?”

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