Ten Hag, Manchester United’s problems pile up after a dismal loss against a brilliant Brentford

LONDON– After a 2-1 defeat by Brighton in the opening game, Manchester United lost 4-0 away to Brentford, conceding all four in the first half. Brentford played well and United’s defensive mistakes coupled with a lack of offensive conviction gave the Bees their first Premier League win over the Red Devils.

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ESPN’s Rob Dawson has the reaction to a disappointing result for Ten Hags United.

GO TO: Player Ratings | Best/worst performance | Highlights and Notable Moments | Quotes after the game | Key Statistics | Upcoming appointments

Fast reaction

Things are getting worse and worse for Erik ten Hag

If the new Manchester United manager thought badly against Brighton last weekend, this was even worse. Much worse. Brentford led 4-0 after just under half an hour and spent the rest of the game playing with Ten Hag’s team. Embarrassment is an understatement.

Ten Hag, called up from Ajax in the summer, is the first United manager to lose his first two competitive games since John Chapman in 1921, while United have now lost their last seven away games – their worst streak since 1936. They are also four league defeats in a row – stretching back to last season – for the first time since 1979. Ten Hag – who gave Cristiano Ronaldo his first start of the season – responded to the dismal first-half performance by beating Luke Shaw and Lisandro Martinez replaced and Fred at half-time but there were very few United players who deserved to play on after the opening 45 minutes.

He badly needs new players before the transfer deadline but perhaps more importantly he needs to see a fight with those he inherited. After two games, two defeats and a goal difference of minus five, United are bottom of the Premier League table and things are not getting any easier for Ten Hag. His next game is at Old Trafford on August 22 against Liverpool.

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David De Gea under pressure

David De Gea has been Man United’s No.1 goalkeeper for more than a decade but there are strong arguments he should be dropped for Liverpool’s visit to Old Trafford. He was caught on his line when Aston Villa equalized at the last minute in a friendly in Perth and his season has been all downhill from there. Ten Hag wants his team to play from the goalkeeper and De Gea’s pass was shaky in the Brighton defeat.

However, it was even more damaging against Brentford. He had already squirmed Josh Dasilva’s tame shot under his body to give Brentford the opener when he tried to pass out Christian Eriksen. The pass was missing, Eriksen was robbed by Mathias Jensen, who gave Brentford a 2-0 lead within the first 20 minutes.

With Dean Henderson loaned out to Nottingham Forest, 36-year-old Tom Heaton – who made just one appearance last season – is the current No. 2 and would likely play against Liverpool if Ten Hag decide to switch. United are keen to sign another goalkeeper before the transfer deadline and those efforts are being intensified following De Gea’s recent disaster.

Brentford takes revenge

Thomas Frank was furious after Man United’s visit to Brentford in January as Ralf Rangnick’s side somehow managed to withstand a first-half brawl and eventually won 3-1. Brentford were so good that night they should have been out of sight by half-time but ultimately paid the price for a series of missed chances. They didn’t make the same mistake again.

Targeting Ivan Toney with long passes to Martinez, Brentford put pressure on the ball across the field and capitalized on United’s inability to play out from behind to take a 4-0 lead within 35 minutes. They needed just 30% possession and converted four of their seven shots on goal into a clinical performance that brutally exposed the fragility of a United side lacking in technique and confidence.

Brentford didn’t deserve to lose to United here last season but they more than made up for it with a dominant display this time to secure their first win of the new season. The headlines will be all over United but Frank and his team deserve credit for a well-executed game plan that has humbled Ten Hag and his players.

Player Ratings

Brentford: David Raya (7), Aaron Hickey (7), Rico Henry (7), Mads Roerslev (7), Pontus Jansson (7), Ben Mee (8), Christian Norgaard (7), Mathias Jensen (8), Bryan Mbeumo (7), Josh Dasilva (8), Ivan Toney (8).
Subtitle: Vitaly Janelt (6), Shandon Baptiste (6), Yoane Wissa (6), Frank Onyeka (6), Mads Bech Sorensen (6).

Manchester United: David de Gea 3, Diogo Dalot 4, Luke Shaw 3, Harry Maguire 3, Lisandro Martinez 4, Fred 4, Christian Eriksen 5, Bruno Fernandes 4, Jadon Sancho 4, Marcus Rashford 4, Cristiano Ronaldo 5.
Subtitle: Tyrell Malacia (5), Raphael Varane (5), Scott McTominay (5), Anthony Elanga (5), Van de Beek (5).

Best and worst performers

BEST: Mathias Jensen, Brentford

There were many notable performances from Brentford but Jensen, who provided one goal and one assist, embodied the speed of work, struggle and quality in Frank’s team.

WORST: David de Gea, Manchester United

He made two glaring errors to allow Brentford to score two early goals but the whole United team should be embarrassed after such a pathetic performance.

Highlights and notable moments

Man United’s start to the Premier League season is getting worse as they sit bottom of the table and face Liverpool next.

Erik ten Hag has only been Manchester United manager for two games and faces an uphill battle to deliver results.

After the game: what the managers, players said

“I think I cost my team three points today, to be honest. It was a poor performance from me. Of course, after the first mistake and the second, it was very difficult for the team to come into play. It was a horrible day.” – Man United goalkeeper David De Gea

“I substituted three, but I could have changed them all.” – Erik ten Hag about wanting to change his entire team at half-time

“We will learn, we will have to learn, it’s not good enough and it’s not the level and standard of how we want to act.” – Ten witch

Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

  • This is only the third time in Premier League history that Man United have lost by four goals at half-time. The last time was a 5-0 loss to Liverpool in 2021/22 and a 6-1 loss to Tottenham in 2020-21.


Brentford: They travel alongside newly promoted Fulham on August 20 before meeting League Two side Colchester United in the second round of the Carabao Cup on August 23, followed by a home game against Frank Lampard’s Everton on August 27 in the Premier league.

Manchester United: Erik ten Hag’s side host last season’s Premier League runners-up Liverpool on August 22, followed by visits to Southampton on August 27 and Leicester City on September 1.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/blog-the-match/story/4720495/ten-hagmanchester-uniteds-problems-pile-up-after-a-dismal-loss-against-a-brilliant-brentford Ten Hag, Manchester United’s problems pile up after a dismal loss against a brilliant Brentford

Emma Bowman

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