Former Premier League midfielder Jamie Redknapp has pinpointed two mistakes Erik ten Hag made in Manchester United 4-0 defeat to Brentford on Saturday evening.
After two games played, Man Utd are currently bottom of the Premier League table, with two defeats and a goal difference of -5. It’s a sorry start to life as Man Utd manager for Ten Hag, whom many had been excited about taking charge, potentially heralding in a new era at Old Trafford.
However, Ten Hag hasn’t really been backed in the transfer market by the Man Utd board, with former interim manager Ralf Rangnick claiming the club needed at least 10 new players in the summer to overhaul the squad. While Man Utd have signed Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen and Tyrell Malacia, there is still so much work to be done especially in defensive midfield and attack.
Nevertheless, there was some outside optimism for Man Utd after their strong performance against Liverpool in pre-season and Ten Hag’s men were backed to start the Premier League fairly well, up against Brighton and Brentford in their opening two matches.
After losing 4-0 at the Amex towards the end of last season, Man Utd were beaten by Brighton once more, only this time at Old Trafford as Pascal Groß scored twice in a 2-1 victory for the Seagulls.
But the defeat to Brentford was so much worse. Josh Dasilva opened the scoring for Brentford after 10 minutes, with his shot from outside the area squeezing through David de Gea’s hands and there were more complaints about the Spaniard after his pass put Christian Eriksen under pressure inside his own box to allow Mathias Jensen to double the lead. By half-time, Brentford were 4-0 up thanks to goals from Ben Mee and Bryan Mbeumo, and Man Utd fans may have been fearing a second-half drubbing pushing the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool last season and 6-1 losses against Manchester City and Tottenham.
Brentford eased off at half-time, happy with the 4-0 win, but there was nothing to be happy about for Man Utd. And Redknapp had some thoughts for Ten Hag to ponder, picking on two of his starting XI decisions as a reason behind the defeat.
“I cannot believe what I’m watching from this Man Utd team,” Redknapp told Sky Sports at half-time. “It’s like they’re a team, they’ve got the Man Utd badge on but they’re just thrown out there. They don’t look like they’re showing any responsibility, any care.
Manchester United have conceded four goals in the first half of a Premier League away game for the first time in their history. ? pic.twitter.com/bdWCj7ZEzV
— Squawka (@Squawka) August 13, 2022
“I think the manager’s making mistakes. Christian Eriksen is not a defensive midfield player in any lifetime and he’s playing him in that role today, so he has to accept [that]. Martinez, not strong enough as a central defender, getting bullied. It just sums up Manchester United and they’re two decisions the manager has made.”
Martinez did not come out after half-time, replaced by Raphael Varane as part of a triple substitution, continuing his poor start to life in the Premier League after a forgettable debut last weekend. And Gary Neville compared Martinez’s half-time substitution to something similar that happened to Patrice Evra back in 2006.
“He’s had his Patrice Evra moment. I remember Patrice Evra getting substituted at half-time at Manchester City, one of his very early games for the club. He’ll watch the second half now, with Fred who’s been taken off as well, and hopefully learn a lot.”
Evra’s game against Man City was in fact his Premier League debut, starting at left-back and going head-to-head with Trevor Sinclair, who scored in the first half. Darius Vassell added a second just before half-time and when the two teams emerged from the break, Evra was back on the bench, replaced by Alan Smith.
Man Utd went on to lose the game 3-1, with Cristiano Ronaldo also getting sent off, though Evra later revealed he had been ill before the match but was too scared to tell Sir Alex Ferguson.
Evra would get the last laugh against all those who may have doubted him, going on to have an excellent career at Man Utd, in which he made his name as one of the best left-backs in the world, winning five Premier League titles and the Champions League. The Frenchman was also named in four Premier League Team of the Years and the FIFPro World XI in 2009. Oh how Man Utd fans will be hoping Martinez has the same comeback, and preferably soon as it’s Liverpool up next.