Erik ten Hag's Manchester United reign begins with horror show loss to Brighton

·32-min read
Manchester, Britain - August 7, 2022 Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo looks on after the match as manager Erik ten Hag walks off in the background - REUTERS
Manchester, Britain - August 7, 2022 Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo looks on after the match as manager Erik ten Hag walks off in the background - REUTERS

There were protests, a po-face and a poor performance. The scowl inevitably belonged to Cristiano Ronaldo and he came on as a second-half substitute, and Manchester United were better with him on the pitch, but mainly because of desperation and because it allowed Christian Eriksen to drop into midfield.

Even so they could not rescue Erik ten Hag’s first Premier League game in charge as Brighton and their excellent manager Graham Potter, deservedly, took the points. They first played United away in 1909 – 113 years later they finally have their first win at Old Trafford. And it was no shock and certainly no ‘smash and grab’.

“Just like Brighton, your city is blue,” cheekily tweeted Brighton’s official account. But there was also plenty of red – mainly red faces of anger and frustration with 1,000 United fans forcing the club’s Mega Store to close as they again protested against the unloved Glazer family ownership.

Pascal Gross scored both of Brighton’s goals but they owed much to even grosser defending from United with the scale of the task for Ten Hag laid brutally bare. A new manager, a fresh start but the same old problems emerged.

Manchester United's Harry Maguire appears dejected after Brighton and Hove Albion's Pascal Gross scores the second goal of the game during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester - PA
Manchester United's Harry Maguire appears dejected after Brighton and Hove Albion's Pascal Gross scores the second goal of the game during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester - PA

Ronaldo was named among the substitutes, with Ten Hag claiming he is not fully fit even if the forward would dispute that as he seeks to leave, and there was a huge cheer as he came on after 53 minutes to replace the woeful Fred and while United did score, and piled on the pressure, they could not salvage a draw.

At one stage “Ole” was also sung around the stadium but it was no reference to United’s former manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Instead it was the Brighton fans delighting as their team played keep ball and United chased shadows in the August sunshine. It was that kind of horror show for them.

Brighton lost arguably their two best players in the summer – with Yves Bissouma leaving for Tottenham Hotspur for a fee that could rise to £35 million and Marc Cucurella joining Chelsea for up to £61m – but were superb and thoroughly, emphatically warranted their victory.

United were taken apart for both of Brighton’s first-half goals. They were slow – almost lazy with Scott McTominay failing to stop Moises Caicedo after being dispossessed by him – and laboured with Leandro Trossard having time and space to measure a pass and Danny Welbeck having time and space to run on to it. Harry Maguire played him onside and the former United forward was allowed to cross low with Gross arriving at the far post – completely unmarked of course – to sidefoot home. Bruno Fernandes was stood on the edge of the area and threw up his hands in disgust. Why did he not track Gross instead?

It got even worse. A back-heel from Trossard down near his own corner flag set Brighton off again. Once more United were slow, lacking intensity, almost lacking effort – surely not? – as Caicedo found Gross who picked out Adama Lallana who swept it wide to Solly March. There were no challenges, no aggression and he easily cut inside and shot low with David De Gea parrying his shot only for Gross to slam the rebound high into the net.

It was almost traumatic. United have to bite the bullet and accept they cannot succeed with McTominay and Fred in their midfield. They either quickly buy Frenkie de Jong or quickly move on to another midfield target or Ten Hag is going to be up against it. He looked like he knew that.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag with Scott McTominay on the touchline during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester - PA 
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag with Scott McTominay on the touchline during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester - PA

It was poor. After just 14 seconds, in fact, Diogo Dalot was so casual that Trossard charged down his pass and shot into the side-netting. A few minutes later and Fred passed the ball straight to Trossard inside the United area but recovered to smother his effort. Then De Gea passed the ball straight out of play as he delayed. What a catalogue of unforgiveable errors.

Fernandes had skied a chance before the scoring but that was it. Eriksen, on his debut, was used as a ‘false nine’ but it did not work and it was only when he was restored to midfield that United gained some control and rhythm. Marcus Rashford fluffed a couple of opportunities but it was at least encouraging for United even if Brighton should have been awarded a penalty and the chance to put the result to bed when Lisandro Martinez bundled into Welbeck.

Could United capitalise? A lifeline came. Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez failed to punch a corner clear with the ball rebounding off Dalot, standing behind him. It bounced goalwards and as Maguire tried to reach it Sanchez inadvertently pushed it against Alexis MacAllister who turned it into the net. After a Video Assistant Referee check – as to whether it was handball by Dalot - the goal stood. Old Trafford was raucous and United were finally on top.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag (top right), Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) and other United staff and subs - PA
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag (top right), Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) and other United staff and subs - PA

What next? They had time, they had the crowd behind him but it was another indictment of where they are at that Brighton were comfortable enough in seeing out the result which will send yet more shock waves from United. Ronaldo, meanwhile, did very little apart from stalk off at the end. What a welcome for Ten Hag.

Brighton defeat Manchester United at Old Trafford, as it happened

04:50 PM

Congratulations to Brighton

I think that will do it for our live blog; we will turn now to the match report from Jason Burt. Thanks for following this one with us. If you'd like to check in on West Ham vs Man City, our blog is here. Cheers!

04:49 PM

More stats

  • Brighton and Hove Albion’s Pascal Groß became only the third player to score twice against Manchester United in their opening match of a Premier League season, after Brian Deane in 1992-93 for Sheffield United and Louis Saha in 2001-02 for Fulham.

  • Alexis Mac Allister's own goal for Brighton was the 73rd own goal that Manchester United have benefitted from in Premier League history, the most of any team.

  • Pascal Groß has scored the winning goal three times against Manchester United in the Premier League for Brighton (May 2018, August 2018, today). The only player with more winning goals against the Red Devils in Premier League history is Danny Murphy (5 - three with Liverpool, two with Fulham).

  • For a third consecutive season, a visiting player has scored twice in the first half against Man Utd in the Premier League at Old Trafford (Son Heung-Min in 2020-21, Mohamed Salah in 2021-22, Pascal Groß today). In the first 28 seasons, it only happened three times.

04:45 PM

Potter on Moises Caicedo

Potter on Caicedo:  "First-half performance was so impressive. He's not that old, he's still adapting and learning but he's got great qualities, he's a fantastic kid."

04:37 PM

Well played Danny

04:35 PM

Better get a few wins soon

or he might be seeing a bit of this gesture himself...

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag - Reuters
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag - Reuters

04:27 PM

Recruitment obviously an issue

Related to that:

Manchester United's £7.2m offer for Marko Arnautovic rejected by Bologna

As Jason Burt explains: "Arnautovic is understood to be keen to make the move to Old Trafford and may ask to leave the Italian club

04:20 PM

Reactions from Twitter

Jason Burt: "Man Utd far better since Ronaldo has come on but that is mainly because it allowed Eriksen to drop back into midfield."

Seb Eaton: "Martinez looked promising but otherwise, the things we all knew were a problem, were a problem. RB, CM, ST all need attention in the next few weeks. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone."

Samuel Luckhurst: "MUFC's transfer market has been dismal but adopting an approach that jarred with how they prepared in pre-season was bound to fail against a structured side who know their cues"

04:18 PM

Punchy

04:15 PM

Bookies have cut the odds on ETH

to be the first manager sacked. He's into 20/1 from 33/1 on Betfair. Frank Lampard is the 4/1 fav.

04:06 PM

Stats from the game

  • Brighton registered their first ever away win over Manchester United, having drawn two and lost 12 of their previous 14 visits before today.

  • Manchester United have now lost their opening Premier League match in two of the last three seasons, having started with a win in five consecutive seasons between 2015-16 and 2019-20 before this.

  • Erik ten Hag is the first Manchester United manager to lose his first Premier League game in charge since Louis van Gaal in August 2014 against Swansea City.

  • Manchester United faced 12 shots in the first half of this match – in what was new manager’s Erik ten Hag’s 229th top-flight match in charge, this was only the third time one of his teams had faced as many as 12 shots in the first half of a game.

04:05 PM

Roy Keane on Sky Sports

"No real surprises. The same shortcomings. They threw Ronaldo, not fully fit on, and that was a gamble that didn't really work out. You were hoping for more from Man United. Not good enough out of possession. Those shortcomings are not going to change... There is no pressure on the ball. Credit to Brighton.

"The decision making and the football intelligence from the midfield two of Fred and McTominay is not good enough. They will not get Man United back to the top. They are not good enough and they are not up to it."

04:03 PM

Man of the Match Gross

"Three points against Manchester United, away, we could not ask for more, I don't know why [always score against United] but I wish I could score against other teams! We took our chances and were clinical."

04:01 PM

Ronaldo looked peeved all day

Ronaldo, brought on as a sub, appeared frustrated with his colleagues - Reuters
Ronaldo, brought on as a sub, appeared frustrated with his colleagues - Reuters

03:57 PM

Stick around for the inquest

No doubt Roy Keane will have views.

We will enjoy dissecting a wretched United showing I am quite sure, but let's also pay tribute to a superbly coached, spirited effort from Brighton. It's Pride weekend in Brighton at the moment and fans of the Seagulls can be proud indeed of their side; they were the better side today. Smarter, snappier, more decisive in attack and more alert in the defence.

03:54 PM

Full time: Man United 1 Brighton 2

That's it! Brighton are worthy winners and to be perfectly frank they should have had a nailed-on pen at 2-0.

03:53 PM

90+4 mins: Man United 1 Brighton 2                   

Welbeck, who has had an excellent game that just lacked a bit of killer touch with the shooting boots, comes off. Undav is the man who replaces him.

Some fans are leaving, their team does not in all honesty look that likely to score.

03:50 PM

90+1 mins: Man United 1 Brighton 2                   

Malacia's first action is to foul that splendid little battling dervish Lamptey as the Brighton man goes round him on the outside. That's good for a freekick and a minute or two eaten up.

03:49 PM

89 mins: Man United 1 Brighton 2                 

We are going to have five minutes of added time.

03:48 PM

87 mins: Man United 1 Brighton 2                 

Shaw, Fernandes, Sancho off for United. Garnacho, Malacia and Elanga are the men who come on.

March off for Brighton.

03:46 PM

86 mins: Man United 1 Brighton 2                 

Corner for United. Martinez meets it crisply at the back post. And that is a wonderful block from Lewis Dunk!

03:44 PM

85 mins: Man United 1 Brighton 2               

Sancho takes his man on, beats the fullback on the outside, but not a lot comes of it.

03:44 PM

84 mins: Man United 1 Brighton 2               

Ronaldo with a run, he slips it to Eriksen, who has a shot.

03:42 PM

83 mins: Man United 1 Brighton 2             

United look at their best, and Brighton at their worst, when they can get one of their tricky wide men in behind. Sancho here. Cannot quite deliver the final pass.

03:41 PM

82 mins: Man United 1 Brighton 2             

The aforementioned Mac Allister - if only he didn't have QUITE such a preposterous name - has a crisp effort wide.

03:39 PM

80 mins: Man United 1 Brighton 2           

Martinez reacts well, ie very quickly, to snuff out the danger with Welbeck about to pounce on a knock-down.

Mac Allister caught Fernandes in the face just now, but neither ref nor the little VAR wizards saw much in it.

03:39 PM

79 mins: Man United 1 Brighton 2           

That United goal, incidentally, was chalked up against Mac Allister as an OG. It was a bit of a bundle, as I said. Hit Dalot twice on various parts of the body and it probably was the Brighton man who got the last touch.

Ronaldo putting himself about, trying to make something happen.

03:38 PM

78 mins: Man United 1 Brighton 2         

Donny van de Beek replaces Scott McTominay.

03:34 PM

74 mins: Man United 1 Brighton 2         

Trossard and Lallana are coming off Lamptey and Mwepu are the replacements. Brighton's two best players on the day, T and L? Interesting decision from Potter.

03:31 PM

72 mins: Man United 1 Brighton 2       

Sanchez suddenly looking really nervy. The crowd are up for it. United piling on the pressure, and putting balls in the box. Sanchez has spilled a regulation gather.

Luke Shaw's been booked.

03:27 PM

GOAL! Man United 1 Brighton 2 (Alexis Mac Allister og 68)

United have got one back. A ball into the area. Brighton goalie Sanchez flaps at the ball. Dalot gets something on it, there's a scramble, the goalie tries to claw it away and impedes Mac Allister, who probably would have cleared it okay. It's over the line by hook or by crook.

There's a VAR check for handlball, a foul on the keeper, a possible offside on Maguire, insider treading, etc etc etc but eventually, once all joy has been sucked from the moment, it is allowed to stand. Yay. Woo.

03:22 PM

62 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 2       

Daniel Storey: "At the stage where a PR email is going to land in the inbox this week with some comment from Jonathan Woodgate on this Lisandro Martnez debut."

03:19 PM

59 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 2     

Ronaldo's first intervention of note is to slide the perfect pass through for Rashford from the right. Marcus hits it well enough but fails to beat the goalie. That's an excellent save from the Brighton keeper.

03:13 PM

54 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 2     

Martinez has shoulder barged Welbeck to the floor in the penalty area. The referee has failed to give a pen. VAR, for whatever reason, hasn't intervened. Ridiculous. That's so obviously a penalty.

03:11 PM

53 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 2   

Ronaldo is coming on. The man to make way is Fred.

03:11 PM

52 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 2   

Trossard and Maguire tangle. Harry has a good height advantage but wee Trossard's not for backing down. Each gets a good shove in and, accordingly, a yellow.

03:10 PM

51 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 2 

Picture of Ronaldo shirtless. Carragher: "he certainly didn't let himself go in Ibiza this summer like meself!"

It is fair to say that Cristiano is in QUITE SOME SHAPE. Goodness me. Not an ounce on him.

03:09 PM

50 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 2 

Bruno has a shot. The ball is pinging around the box. Lallana and McTominay challenge for the ball; it hits Adam L on the elbow as he jumps. The crowd want a pen. No, says ref + VAR.

03:07 PM

49 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 2

At the other end, Trossard crosses, Welbeck is first to the ball and he heads over.

That came about because MUFC lacked either the skill or brains to hold onto the ball in the face of the Brighton press. Brighton won it, United's efforts to get it back were modest at best, and then Brighton created themselves an opportunity.

03:05 PM

47 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 2

Decent wee move down the left from MUFC but it flounders when Fred tries a weird sort of low headed pass into the area.

03:05 PM

46 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 2

United are on the front foot early on.

03:01 PM

Here's Gross's first

Manchester United vs Brighton live: score and latest updates from the Premier League - PA
Manchester United vs Brighton live: score and latest updates from the Premier League - PA

03:00 PM

A real head scratcher

ETH has some thinking to do - AP
ETH has some thinking to do - AP

02:54 PM

Half time thoughts

Fernandes should have scored for United early on. Little bit of time, not under pressure, just had to hit the goal from 18 yards. McTominay with a wild tackle that could easily have been a yellow. Brighton deserve the leads.

"We shouldn't be that surprised, the new manager needs time. But there's gaps everywhere. The two in midfield are all over the place. MUFC are as bad as any team in the PL when they are out of possession. Very poor," Roy Keane.

02:48 PM

Half time: Man United 0 Brighton 2

Some boos, some jeers. ETH trudges back to the tunnel. Welcome to your new life sir!

02:43 PM

42 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 2

Ronaldo is stalking up and down the touchline, warming up, because of course he is. He threw his arms up in frustration at the first goal.

02:42 PM

GOAL! Man United 0 Brighton 2 (Gross 38)

Gross has done it again! United are all over the shop. March gets down the right, he gets his shot in. The goalie manages to palm it away but Gross is following in. Fred is standing there thinking about what he's having for tea, no reaction at all. Gross reacts all right though! He happily taps that in for his second. Gross point blank.

manchester united vs brighton live score premier league latest updates - EPA
manchester united vs brighton live score premier league latest updates - EPA

02:39 PM

36 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 1

McTominay with another foul. He needs subbed at HT because he must be one foul away from the red.

Here is Lallana popping up on the right now, crosses, Welbeck tries to volley it in but cannot get enough on the ball. He had to hook the ball out of the air behind himself and couldn't direct it.

02:35 PM

34 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 1

Reactions to the goal

Daniel Storey: "It's weird, because Manchester United bought another really highly-rated central defender to go with the other four they already had and that hasn't obviously solved the problem."

Gary Lineker: "Brighton lead. Tough times for Manchester United’s fans: it’s the lack of hope that kills you."

Jason Burt: "Brighton been excellent so far. Awful defending by Man Utd for the opening goal. Indictment of Scott McTominay for losing the ball and lazily jogging back instead of trying to stop Moises Caicedo."

JJ Bull: "Doing analysis of this Man Utd game after the match for Tifo IRL and may I say at the moment I’m not sure it’ll be full of praise on how those Red Devils are playing."

02:31 PM

GOAL! Man United 0 Brighton 1 (Gross 30)

But here's Gross again! United attack, lose it. Trossard has it on the left, he plays it into Welbeck with an attractive pass. Welbeck is very nearly offside and they will check that. Danny W slides it across and Gross is totally unmarked at the back post! Gross taps it in. VAR check is complete and that's a goal for Gross!

02:30 PM

29 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 0   

Mac Allister’s has a dibble from distance, and it is deflected behind for a Brighton corner.

Gross delivers, Dunk gets on the header and puts it over.

02:27 PM

27 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 0 

The ground goes quiet and the TV cameras are not focusing on the injured player. "I really hope he is alright," says Carragher.

He's on his feet unaided. That's good to see. One of those high foot tackles, a high follow through on the ankle and the yellow McTominay got there was arguably lenient.

02:27 PM

26 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 0 

McTominay with a wild tackle, over the ball, and he has caught his opponent Caicedo there. McTominay lost the ball, lunged, and has smashed the Brighton man on the shin.

02:24 PM

24 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 0

Sancho, who has not had much of a say yet, gets the ball from a quick Fernandest freekick. Carries it, finds Eriksen, whose movement is good. But he cannot do much with the shot.

02:23 PM

22 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 0

McTominay is playing a bit more advanced than I have sometimes seen him. Hopefully that might mean that he and Fred aren't doing too similar a DMC job.

United, as the visitors, fluid in approach: the attacking players interchanging a bit.

02:21 PM

19 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 0

Lallana is pulling out to the left here. Bold, attacking fluid system from Brighton, with a couple of gen-yoo-wine wingers and three quite wide centre backs. Plenty of space for United to attack into, concomitantly.

Adam L gets a handy cross into the area but Wellbeck cannot do a lot with the headed effort.

02:19 PM

16 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 0 

De Gea has borked a kick out of play.

manchester united vs brighton live score premier league latest updates
manchester united vs brighton live score premier league latest updates

02:19 PM

15 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 0 

Gross tries to find Welbeck down the right channel. Martinez cannot get there, but Dat Guy Wellbz cannot profit from it as he loses his footing.

02:18 PM

14 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 0

Caicedo has a shot from 20 yards or so but Maguire blocks.

02:17 PM

13 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 0

Lallana, playing at the advanced point of a midfield diamond, is seeing plenty of the ball and some making some nice little prompts and passes.

02:16 PM

12 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 0

No great dramas to report. Eriksen and Fernandes are both playing centrally but interchanging and dropping.

02:15 PM

10 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 0

Good little titbit from the BBC: "The other change Erik ten Hag has implemented since becoming Manchester United manager is to switch dug-outs. United now use the one nearest the Stretford End - and the tunnel."

02:08 PM

6 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 0

Big chance for United! McTominay crosses from the right and it takes a benevolent deflection to send the ball straight into the path of Bruno F. Oh he has blazed it over! "A player of his calibre has to score," comments Jamie Carragher. I mean on the telly. He's not like sat here with me. One day perhaps Jamie.

02:05 PM

3 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 0

The next couple of minutes are a midfield battle, with Brighton emerging on top. March tries to get onto a forward ball into the channel and Maguire, attempting to prevent just that, is bundled over by March. MUFC get the decision.

02:02 PM

1 mins: Man United 0 Brighton 0

It's Brighton who kick off, and the new era is very nearly off to the worst possible start when Dalot dallies on the ball, is robbed by Trossard on the edge of his own box... and is no doubt extremely relieved to see the Brighton man fire into the side netting.

02:01 PM

The players are ready

The knee is taken.

Man Utd: de Gea, Dalot, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Sancho, Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford. Subs: Ronaldo, Malacia, Varane, Heaton, Wan-Bissaka, van de Beek, Elanga, Garner, Garnacho.

Brighton: Sanchez, Veltman, Dunk, Webster, March, Lallana, Caicedo, Trossard, Gross, Mac Allister, Welbeck. Subs: Lamptey, Colwill, Mwepu, Maupay, Sarmiento, Undav, Mitoma, Steele, van Hecke.

Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)

manchester united vs brighton live score premier league latest updates - AFP
manchester united vs brighton live score premier league latest updates - AFP

01:58 PM

Erik ten Hag

walks down the polytunnel, and out into the Old Trafford sunshine. A warm if not exactly thunderous hand from the faithful. A midnight blue suit jacket, and a round-neck white t-shirt with some piping or detailing around the collar. I cannot see his trousers.

01:55 PM

To Manchester!

Where the teams are in the tunnel.

01:55 PM

In the big game of the day

I am extremely happy to say that Martin Boyle has equalised for Hibs against the other mob. Back from Saudi and back on the scoresheet. Anyway. You'll not be interested in that.

01:52 PM

Ten Hag

tells Sky that Eriksen will be his centre forward. Well, he'll play in that position anyway. Presumably more of a Messi-ish false nine rather than a Sir Les Ferdinand type.

01:45 PM

Fans

manchester united vs brighton live score premier league latest updates - Getty
manchester united vs brighton live score premier league latest updates - Getty

01:34 PM

More on this protest

Jack Flintham tweets: "United fans head into the Munich Tunnel. Notably one protestor comments on the amount of people heading into the megastore of which there are considerable numbers."

And I guess that's it in a nutshell, right? For every fan who feels the heart has been ripped out of their club by zombie finance, offshore hedgefunds and so on, there'll be one having the most memorable day of their life as they get to buy a Scott McTominay duvet cover mere yards from the Theatre of Dreams ™ and watch a game there.

01:31 PM

Man United fans are protesting

01:17 PM

Nearest they'll get etc etc and so on

United fans with trophies - Reuters
United fans with trophies - Reuters

01:15 PM

Brighton

as for the visitors, they name nine of the same XI who played the last match of last season (West Ham). They have since divested themselves of Marc Cucurella and Yves Bissouma. Adam Lallanas in Pyjamas and Leandro Trossard are the men who come into the starting line up.

01:12 PM

Two significant debuts for MUFC:

Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez are in the starting XI. Huge day for Erik ten Hag.

01:09 PM

Team news reactions

Daniel Zeqiri of Telegraph Sport: "Cannot believe we’re here on the first weekend of another season and Manchester United have still not signed a central midfielder. Has any club neglected a position for this long? They’ve lacked a controller since Carrick’s last good season.

Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News: "Fernandes as the 'striker' would be a bold call. He was terrible in that role vs Leicester in April but possibly telling he has been relocated after a couple of sloppy performances. Sting taken out of Ronaldo's benching a bit by not starting Elanga."

01:03 PM

Ronaldo

adjudged suitable only for the bench. A new era for United but it is the same much-maligned midfield pairing of McFred.

01:03 PM

Team news is in

Man Utd: de Gea, Dalot, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Sancho, Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford. Subs: Ronaldo, Malacia, Varane, Heaton, Wan-Bissaka, van de Beek, Elanga, Garner, Garnacho.

Brighton: Sanchez, Veltman, Dunk, Webster, March, Lallana, Caicedo, Trossard, Gross, Mac Allister, Welbeck. Subs: Lamptey, Colwill, Mwepu, Maupay, Sarmiento, Undav, Mitoma, Steele, van Hecke.

Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)

01:00 PM

Last meeting

When these sides met back in May, down in Sussex, the Seagulls sent Man United packing with an astonishing, joyous 4-0 win.

Brighton also beat them twice in 2018. And once in 1982. But historically, it has been one-way traffic really. Brighton have never beaten them at OT.

12:46 PM

... but where?

Football writer Ian Whittell here examines the options for a player of Ronaldo's age, status, and enormous appetite for M.

Cristiano Ronaldo has nowhere to go - the days of him dictating his moves are over

Ian says:

For the first time in his illustrious career, Ronaldo may have overplayed his hand when it comes to seeking out new employment.

From Sporting Lisbon to Old Trafford to Real Madrid and on to Juventus, Ronaldo has dictated and plotted his own career trajectory, ably assisted by self-styled “super agent” Jorge Mendes.

The summer of 2022 is proving a very different proposition, however. One by one, Ronaldo’s options of alternative employment appear to be disappearing; a situation exacerbated by the hard-line approach adopted by United and their new manager Erik ten Hag.

Young United fan in Ronaldo shirt - Reuters
Young United fan in Ronaldo shirt - Reuters

Be some tearful wee boys and girls in Maidstone Malaysia Manchester if he does get on his bike I'll bet.

12:42 PM

Ronaldo must go...

What an intriguing and increasingly acrimonious mess this appears to be. One of the best two players in the world over the last couple of decades, the side's leading goal threat.... and yet you feel that the new manager would be better off without him.

Jamie Carragher, who is a Telegraph Sport columnist alongside his other roles, has a view here.

Cristiano Ronaldo's petulance can be indulged no longer – Manchester United must show him the door

Jamie says:

“Unacceptable” is putting it mildly about Ronaldo’s petulant behaviour. Ten Hag should go further and tell his board to facilitate Ronaldo’s departure on a free transfer for the greater good of Manchester United. This will not be a sign of weakness even if, ultimately, it is what Ronaldo wants.

By seizing the moment, Ten Hag can make it known it is he who wants Ronaldo out, sending a message to the rest of the team he will not tolerate such lack of discipline. Keeping Ronaldo will prolong the problem and what has become an unwanted soap opera.

12:35 PM

The kick off today

is at 2pm. The team news will be out an hour or so before. It will be on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event. Also kicking off at the same time is Leicester vs Brentford - and you can follow that one with the splendid Mr Uche Amako, who will be live blog detail.

12:26 PM

Manchester United! Brighton! Live!

Good afternoon and welcome to our live blog of Manchester United against Brighton.

Here is Richard Tanner to set the scene:

The will-he-go, will-he-stay Cristiano Ronaldo affair may have dominated Manchester United's summer but his former Real Madrid team-mate Raphael Varane is also facing some scrutiny.

Varane's signing last summer - along with the arrivals Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho - was hailed as one of the last pieces in the title jig-saw for the club but it proved anything but as United slumped to their worst season in the Premier League era, in terms of points if not position.

Far from tightening up the defence, United ended up conceding as many goals as they scored - 57- their worst defensive record for over 30 years.

Varane's performances on the pitch proved as inconsistent as his appearance record. The France international missed 20 games out of 49 in all competitions and, crucially, he was absent for nearly half of the 38 Premier League fixtures, starting only 20 and coming on as a sub in one.

Instead of creating a solid understanding with defensive partner Harry Maguire, United looked more vulnerable than ever with Maguire's form suffering badly. Rather unfairly the United captain was singled out for the bulk of the criticism with Varane's far from commanding displays seemingly escaping much of the flak, although he has admitted in pre-season that he, along with every player, needs a big improvement on last season.

Eric Ten Hag's decision to buy Lisandro Martinez from his former club Ajax is considered to have put the pressure on Maguire given that the Argentina international plays on the left side of the centre back pair where Maguire has played for most of his career.

But Varane is also under pressure unless he can improve his injury record. Any successful team is built on a stable back line. Ten Hag has already indicated that Maguire will remain as his captain, he is naturally right footed and is far more reliable when it comes to injuries. The feeling is that Maguire will play when he has a knock and put his body on the line while Varane will err on the side of caution.

Ten Hag is well aware of Varane's frequent injury absences and revealed he and his coaching staff put the 2018 World Cup winner on a special individual fitness programme in pre-season to ensure he was properly fit for the start of the season and will, hopefully, remain fit.

Asked how confident he was of getting the best out of Varane, Ten Hag sounded a positive note. "Very," he said. "I'm 100 per cent convinced about that. We built him during the pre-season real carefully,with an individual programme and the last three weeks I think he has been on the pitch in every session and I'm really happy with that.

“You see him growing, his fitness levels and his performance levels, so I'm really happy with that. If Raphael is fit it is a huge strength for the squad and for the team.”

Ten Hag made it clear that one of the reasons he bought Martinez was because he likes left-footed players on the left of his defence - and right-footed players on the right. "Left-footed players are better orientated on the left side," he said. "In possession you can create better angles but out of possession also the orientation is better, easier and more comfortable to go out, for instance, to cover the full-back”

The Dutchman is well aware that if new boy Martinez - who comes with a reputation as a fearless tough tackler as well as being good on the ball - can settle well then he then he has to choose between Maguire and Varane as his regular partner with Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly also pushing for game-time which may well come in the Europa League and domestic cup competitions.

But he made it clear he will be guided by performances rather than name, price and reputation. "I like this problem," he said. "I  think that is what we have been talking about - we need that competition in this squad.

"At the start of the season it [selection] is all open but apart from competition we are also going into a long season with a lot of games so we need a lot of  players, quality players, to cover all the games. I can tell you in advance that no-one can play all the games"

Ten Hag has certainly got plenty of competition in defence. Apart from having five centre backs, Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka will battle for the right back slot while new boy Tyrell Malacia will challenge Luke Shaw for on the left side. Whether it will help improve United's defensive record remains to be seen.

Further forward he believes he can help Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho re-discover their best form after indifferent seasons and possibly their England places in time for the World Cup in Qatar.

“Once again, don’t look back, look forward," he said. "I see the potential with many players in this squad and, yes, I am convinced I can develop the team. First develop the team then we will see  individuals develop."

He is pragmatic about the demand for United to not only to win matches but in also in style, warning that sometimes winning 'ugly' will be necessary,.

"They always want to play brilliant football," he said. "That is why I'm here and I like it. You want to win and you want to win in a certain way so be proactive, brave, adventurous.

"I think that belongs to the culture of Manchester United and we want to bring it in. But at the end of the day if you cannot win in a good way, in an entertaining way, you still have to win. That is the mentality and attitude that we bring in."

Ronaldo has only 45 minutes of pre-season football under his belt after a family issue prevented him from joining the squad on their pre-season tour which followed the news he wanted to leave Old Trafford to join a club who could offer him Champions League football. So far there have been no takers so it looks like he will have to eat humble pie.

He has had a full week's training, Ten Hag says he has been happy with the work he has put in and may well start him against Brighton in the injury-enforced absence of the rejuvenated Anthony Martial.

“How do I feel about starting the season with Ronaldo? I'm really happy,” said Ten Hag. “I had told you before: we planned with him for the season. We have a top striker and I'm really happy he's here, he's in the squad and we stick to the plan. He's worked really good."