Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag blames lack of belief for Brighton defeat

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag (Manchester United via Getty Images)
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag (Manchester United via Getty Images)

Erik ten Hag blamed a lack of belief among his Manchester United players for their opening weekend defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion in his first competitive game in charge.

Pascal Gross’ first-half double brought United back down to earth after a pre-season of cautious optimism under Ten Hag, who suffered an early blow to his hopes of a top-four finish.

Though United pulled one back through an Alexis Mac Allister own goal, Ten Hag’s side rarely threatened themselves, particularly in a poor first half when their manager saw a team lacking in belief.

“I think it was a good start, then after we dropped down a level, dropped down in belief, made mistakes and the opponent finishes,” he said.

“I can understand [losing belief] after last year but it's not necessary. They are good players, self-belief is from yourself. They are [good players] as they proved so many times in the past and will again in the future.

“I knew it could happen, but I think we should have done better. That's clear, but also it will not come overnight. Sometimes we played better in pre-season. Today, we had a worse period during the first half and we have to learn from that, that's also clear.”

Ten Hag chose not to start Cristiano Ronaldo despite a lack of options up front following a hamstring injury to Anthony Martial.

Christian Eriksen instead debuted in an unfamiliar false nine role. Ten Hag ditched that experiment and introduced Ronaldo at the start of the second half.

“If [Martial] was available, the striker, I would've played him. Cristiano is now 10 days in team training. That’s too short for 90 minutes. That’s the reason we didn’t start him.”