Erik ten Hag knew what he was signing up for when he agreed to change into the subsequent supervisor of Manchester United, however a gap day defeat to Brighton clarifies the dimensions of the duty in hand.
United didn’t simply lose at dwelling to Brighton on Sunday, they have been outclassed by the Seagulls. Former Purple Devils striker Danny Welbeck ran Ten Hag’s rejigged defence ragged and Pascal Gross was in a position to choose up the items to attain a brace of high-quality finishes in a 2-1 victory.
The positivity constructed up throughout a powerful pre-season, albeit one the place the way forward for Cristiano Ronaldo was an ever-present sideshow, ebbed away as United as soon as extra toiled at dwelling.
Ten Hag follows David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick in being charged with turning across the itemizing United ship. However just like the 5 managers who got here earlier than him, Ten Hag has not been given the instruments wanted to do the job required.
De Jong wild goose chase a Fabregas repeat
As was the case when Moyes was hand-picked by Alex Ferguson to be his successor within the Outdated Trafford dugout, United have wasted the summer time chasing a goal who doesn’t need the transfer.
Again then it was Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas, this time it’s Frenkie de Jong from the identical membership.
De Jong is in an uncommon spot in that Barca have made it clear they wish to promote him in a bid to handle the membership’s devastated funds. Ten Hag needs to reunite with a participant he relied on in Ajax’s run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019, however De Jong is glad and settled at Camp Nou and he has no want to swap life in Spain for Europa League soccer. De Jong could but be pressured out of the exit door at Barca, who’re unable to register their new signings as a result of membership’s ruined funds, however Ten Hag would have most popular to have had his compatriot accessible weeks in the past, permitting him to create a brand new midfield unit from the bottom up. Chelsea are additionally eager on De Jong, leaving United to show to Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot as a substitute.
As it’s, United began in opposition to Brighton with the identical axis of Fred and Scott McTominay that has been uncovered in current seasons. McTominay was lucky to not be dismissed for a rash problem and Fred made a negligible impression earlier than being substituted early within the second half.
Whereas Ten Hag has been ready to herald defensive reinforcements within the type of Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia and Ajax’s Lisandro Martinez, the step up from Eredivisie soccer to the Premier League is a giant one. Martinez discovered it robust in opposition to Welbeck with the centre-back’s comparatively small stature more likely to be focused by Premier League strikers by way of the season.
Diogo Dalot shouldn’t be elite high quality at right-back both, whereas the efficiency of Harry Maguire confirmed little to recommend Ten Hag’s determination to maintain the England defender as captain is sensible.
Striker scarcity raises targets query
Ten Hag can do little concerning the Ronaldo saga, with the Portugal ahead having introduced his want to go away Outdated Trafford solely to search out there are few takers at his large desired wage.
Whereas Ronaldo stays on the membership, Ten Hag has little possibility however to make use of a striker who contributed 18 league targets for United final time period, although he seems an uneasy match for the Dutchman’s plan.
With Ronaldo named on the bench for the go to of Brighton, Ten Hag used Christian Eriksen – a uncommon good signing from the membership – as a false 9, however the Dane struggled to supply a spark on debut. Eriksen seemed simpler after Ronaldo’s introduction however Ten Hag should work out methods to get the perfect of the brand new arrival in tandem with Ronaldo’s compatriot Bruno Fernandes.
Anthony Martial would doubtless have began in opposition to the Seagulls following a vivid pre-season however the French ahead once more succumbed to damage. Marcus Rashford’s disaster of confidence seems no nearer to an finish, limiting Ten Hag’s choices additional. Mason Greenwood stays suspended.
United have linked with a shock transfer for ex-West Ham striker Marko Arnautovic, who scored 14 Serie A targets for Bologna final season. At 33, Arnautovic would have represented nothing greater than a short-term repair for United, emblematic of the considering that led to the Ronaldo deal.
The Purple Devils have been additionally credited with an curiosity in Salzburg striker Benjamin Sesko, although it was no shock to see sister membership RB Leipzig transfer in to snap up the gifted teenager as a substitute.
For Ten Hag, the shortage of joined-up planning should be infuriating. There was little level bringing within the highly-rated supervisor from Ajax with out giving him high quality additions to a mediocre squad.
Issues might be about to get a lot worse for United earlier than Ten Hag can enhance issues.