NOTHING dashes optimism more than a dose of reality. Heading into the new Premier League season, with Erik ten Hag coming in along with some new faces, there was hope this could be the year Manchester United finally come good.
It did not take long for the rigours and demands of the Premier League to set in. Unsurprisingly, Man Utd’s problems from previous seasons had not magically disappeared.
While they generally began brightly, they rode their luck on two separate occasions when mistakes from Diogo Dalot and Fred almost allowed Leandro Trossard to score. Errors out of possession and a lack of organisation were at times hard to watch.
Man Utd were in disarray defensively. They seemed to be continuously shocked when Brighton players popped up nearby and were not in a position to stop them, epitomised as Pascal Gross scored twice towards the end of the first half.
Summer signing Lisandro Martinez was also incredibly lucky to not concede a penalty when he fouled Danny Welbeck, with the former United striker a handful for the backline. Brighton are a talented side as they proved on Sunday, but that almost came as a surprise to this team.
The spaces between defence and midfield were a killer too, with Fred and Scott McTominay somehow still the first-choice midfielders, quite possibly out of necessity. As Sky Sports’ Roy Keane said: “Fred and McTominay are not good enough. They won’t get Manchester United back competing. We see it week in, week out.” It’s no surprise Ten Hag has been desperate to sign Frenkie de Jong.
That’s not to say there were not some bright moments. Christian Eriksen shone on his debut and Bruno Fernandes continues to be the beacon of hope for Man Utd fans. Cristiano Ronaldo showed just why he is so important for his side too, despite all the summer dramatics. Whether Ten Hag likes it or not, Ronaldo is at the club and he must be utilised to help Man Utd out of their current predicament.
Although the Dutchman was keen to stress he will need time to implement his ideas, he also knows that is not something afforded to many in football. He has now seen first hand the kind of issues he is facing at Man Utd and, with a constant pen and pad in his hand during the first half, it’s time for him to find the solutions.
As ever, all is not lost for Man Utd, but the Ten Hag renaissance is a long way from starting yet. – Sky Sports.