Erik ten Hag’s first Premier League match in charge of Manchester United ended in a shock 2-1 home defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion. Pascal Groß’s first-half brace took his personal tally against the Red Devils to six goals – the most by any Seagulls player against a single PL opponent.
The new man in charge wasted no time geeing up the Old Trafford crowd ahead of kick off as a new era dawned on the club, though that being said, once the match got underway it became clear that the defensive frailties of old were there to stay, as sloppy errors from Diogo Dalot and Fred in the opening 15 minutes went unpunished by Leandro Trossard and Danny Welbeck.
Once the Seagulls clicked into gear, then came the goals, as a quickfire Pascal Groß double stunned the home support into silence. Beating the offside trap, Welbeck rushed in behind against his former club and cut back to the German, who had the easy task of tapping in his first unmarked at the back post. Then for the second, the United defence were bystanders as Graham Potter’s men worked their magic, scything through the hosts with a move that started with them pinned into their own corner flag, and ended with Groß stabbing in his second on the rebound from an initial David de Gea save.
Watching on throughout all of this was Cristiano Ronaldo – benched for the season opener with his Red Devils future still in doubt. However, with Manchester United winning only two of 11 PL matches in which he didn’t start last campaign, it took only eight minutes after the restart for ten Hag to turn to his talisman. This galvanised the hosts in their attacking push, and with 20 minutes remaining the deficit was halved when Alexis Mac Allister got an unfortunate last touch, turning into his own net at a corner.
The hunt for an equaliser went down to the wire, but come the final whistle, Brighton’s display of defensive rigidity earned them an emphatic three points, made much more impressive by the fact it was their first ever Old Trafford victory. As for Manchester United, opening day defeats don’t come around all too often having won 10 of their last 13, which paints a picture of the size of the task ten Hag has on his hands.