Erik ten Hag blames first Man Utd defeat on bad ‘organisation’ despite Ronaldo impact and denial of key issue

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Erik ten Hag on the Manchester United touchline Credit: PA Images
Erik ten Hag on the Manchester United touchline Credit: PA Images

Erik ten Hag was critical of the lack of organisation Manchester United showed in their defeat to Brighton, but denied there was an attitude problem from his players.

Ten Hag suffered a 2-1 defeat to Brighton in his first match as a Premier League manager with Manchester United. His troops fell two goals behind after a Pascal Gross brace in the first half. An Alexis Mac Allister own goal in the second half was not the start of a comeback.

The result only served as a reminder of the situation Ten Hag has inherited. A lot of work is ahead after a difficult first result, although the new boss knew it wouldn’t be an easy start.

He told Sky Sports after the game: “Yeah, of course, definitely a setback. A real disappointment and we have to deal with it.

“I knew from the start it will not be easy and it’s a process, it takes time. But you don’t have time. We have to win games.

“We should have done it better.

“It was unnecessary how we give two easy balls away. And I think in organisation was a big mistake.

“It was not the way we make it thought out. We make it clear how to deal with situations when we’re dropping.

“But OK, that happens. We have to analyse and we have to take the lessons from it.”

One of the major talking points before the game was Cristiano Ronaldo’s role on the bench. After missing much of pre-season, it was a decision that made sense.

Christian Eriksen featured as a false nine until Ten Hag brought Ronaldo on. He thought the switch had a positive impact.

Ten Hag said: “I think so. It’s clear to see that second half, we were better in the midfield, with Christian Eriksen down and Cristiano Ronaldo up. And then we create.

“I think [Marcus] Rashford had two really good chances. It is a pity that we didn’t score the 2-2.”

As for upping Ronaldo’s workload, though, Ten Hag warned: “It also takes time. You cannot force it.

“He is now one week in training, a little bit more now and he has to do more to get fit.

“This game will help him, the 35, 40 minutes he had now. Now we have one week and he will be better next week.”

But asked how satisfied he was with his overall attacking unit, Ten Hag replied: “I’m not satisfied. Totally not happy because we lose and it was not necessary.

“I said, we should have done things better.”

The next question regarded whether Manchester United may have realised some further needs in the transfer market from the game.

However, the manager responded: “I think also with those players we could have done it better.”

Erik ten Hag addresses attitude concerns

One thing Erik ten Hag did not criticise, though, was United’s attitude and togetherness.

He concluded: “I said it after the game in the dressing room that I see it in the game. The reaction in the second half, we are acting as one team. We are battling for a better result.

“I have seen it clear, and also first half. It’s not about that we didn’t battle. It was not we didn’t have the right attitude, no. We made mistakes, on the ball passing mistakes and organisation mistakes in defending.”

Still, those mistakes will have to be ironed out quickly for United to get up and running in the Ten Hag era.

READ MORE: Roy Keane slams two predictable scapegoats after spotting ‘same shortcomings’ in Man Utd opening defeat

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