BIRMINGHAM, UK– Manchester United suffered a 3-1 defeat by Aston Villa in the Premier League clash at a busy Villa Park as Unai Emery’s side gave their new manager the best possible welcome.
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Cristiano Ronaldo was United captain but the Portuguese striker could only watch as Villa quickly put themselves ahead through Leon Bailey and Lucas Digne in the opening 11 minutes. A Jacob Ramsey own goal reduced the deficit for Erik ten Hag’s team but he made up for it with a fine finish in the 49th minute to give Emery a win in his first game as manager since his appointment last month.
ESPN’s Rob Dawson has Villa Park’s reaction and analysis.
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1. Man United shows Ten Hag there is still work to be done
Just when you think Manchester United could build something under Ten Hag, they put in a terrible performance. Aston Villa beat United at Villa Park for the first time since August 1995 and deservedly so. Villa, led for the first time by new coach Unai Emery, won 3-1 but it could have been more.
United were 2-0 down within 11 minutes and were only there again at half-time thanks to a fluke when Luke Shaw’s shot was deflected off Ramsey past Emiliano Martinez and all Villa nerves were shattered by a third goal early in the second balanced half.
It’s early in Ten Hag’s reign and consistency can’t happen overnight but it’s still remarkable that a team can look so bad against Brentford but then so well against Liverpool, can beat Arsenal but collapse at Manchester City, then Tottenham Hotspur dominates but also collapses at Villa.
There have been plenty of signs Ten Hag United have on the right track but he will be keen to clean up the breakaways who are becoming semi-regular. United have a Carabao Cup game against Villa and a Premier League trip to Fulham ahead of the World Cup and perhaps the break comes at the right time.
2. Van de Beek consumes another life
With Bruno Fernandes suspended, Donny van de Beek was handed his first Premier League start in 701 days but it could be his last for a while. He came on late for the second half after an anonymous 45 minutes and it wouldn’t have been a surprise if the Dutchman hadn’t come back at all.
He was eventually substituted after 65 minutes with United already 3-1 down and it was a miracle he lasted so long. He only managed 18 touches in more than an hour on the court. By comparison, his partners in central midfield, Casemiro and Christian Eriksen, had each touched the ball more than 50 times before Van de Beek’s departure.
Ten Hag gave Van de Beek a chance to impress within four days with starts against Real Sociedad and Villa but he did nothing to hint he should be in the team when United play Villa again in Thursday’s Carabao Cup . The midfielder, who has not been included in the Netherlands’ provisional World Cup squad, is on the verge of a long break but it may be a while before he gets another opportunity in a United shirt, even if the season starts again.
3. Emery works instantly
Emery couldn’t have asked for much more from his first game in charge. Villa started the game in the bottom three but in the first 30 minutes they played like a side fighting for a place in the top six.
With Bailey and Ollie Watkins playing as split forwards, United never came to terms with Emery’s system and were left chasing shadows for most of the first half. The second half started with United in front foot but after Ramsey scored an excellent goal to make it 3-1 after a clean counterattack, Villa were never really worried. The home fans were so comfortable that they chanted “Unai, Unai, wave to us” more than 10 minutes before the game.
Emery’s record – particularly at Sevilla and Villarreal – suggests he can get players to embrace his methods and last but not least, Villa played like a team with a lot of faith in the plan. Villa had won just five of their last 24 league games while United had lost just one of their last 10, but there was only one side that looked like they were playing with confidence and composure.
Aston-Villa: Martinez 7, Cash 7, Digne 8, Konsa 7, Mings 7, Luiz 8, Dendoncker 7, Buendia 7, Bailey 8, Ramsey 9, Watkins 7.
Subtitle: McGinn 7, Young 6, Ings 6, Kamara 6, Sanson 6.
Manchester United: De Gea 6, Dalot 6, Shaw 5, Lindelof 4, Martinez 6, Casemiro 5, Eriksen 6, Van de Beek 4, Rashford 4, Garnacho 6, Ronaldo 5.
Subtitle: Martial 5, Malacia 5, Elanga 5.
Best and worst performers
BEST: Jacob Ramsey
He found plenty of room in Emery’s system and made the most of it with a goal and an assist.
Worst: Victor Lindelof
He was pulled out of position for Villa’s first goal and allowed Watkins to wander into the box ahead of his third.
Highlights and notable moments
No love was lost between Ronaldo and Tyrone Mings as the two tangled in the second half and had to be pulled apart by teammates.
After the game: What the players and coaches said
Emery on his welcome at Villa Park: “The fans have been incredibly supportive and the players have been great with the plan. The first step is to develop confidence, start with energy and support the fans with their reaction. We have the players with the good skills. The way we played the 90 minutes we can be optimistic, but it’s only a first step and we have to work a lot to keep improving.”
Ten Hag on his players aiming crosses at Ronaldo: “I think it was stupid to do that. Because we delivered crosses too quickly from too far and too much forcing and we don’t help him. We have to bring the crosses in the right way Wait a minute. We bring in the crosses too quickly. The right moment was Christian Eriksen in the pocket in the first half to deliver the ball to Cristiano at the far post, that was the right moment.”
Ten Hag on his players who don’t follow his tactics: “I’ve been in football for a long time, they are humans; humans are not robots. Sometimes it is like that and it’s psychological, but it’s not acceptable. Don’t get me wrong, we have to be ready for every game and not give games away so easily.If you start a game like that you will be beaten.
Key Stats (via ESPN Stats & Info)
Ramsey is the fourth player in Premier League history with a goal, an assist and an own goal in a single Premier League game, after Gareth Bale (November 2012), Wayne Rooney (October 2012) and Kevin Davies (December 2008).
Aston-Villa: Fresh off a huge win against Manchester United, Unai Emery’s first away game as manager of Aston Villa is Thursday’s Carabao Cup against…Manchester United. After that, Villa is back at Brighton & Hove Albion next Sunday before the Premier League is sidelined for the World Cup.
Manchester United: Ten Hag has a chance to seek immediate revenge on Emery’s mansion at Old Trafford and he could well use the game to make some changes to the team before next Sunday’s visit to Fulham brings down the curtain on 2022 for the Red Devils .
https://www.espn.com/soccer/blog-the-match/story/4793789/man-united-loss-at-aston-villa-another-step-back-for-erik-ten-hag-and-donny-van-de-beek Man United loss at Villa a setback for Ten Hag, Van de Beek