Brentford vs Manchester United. Premier League.
Gtech Community StadiumAttendance17,051.
Reports & highlights as David de Gea's error allowed Josh Dasilva to open the scoring on 10 minutes; Mathias Jensen doubled the lead when he pounced on former Bee Christian Eriksen's mistake; Ben Mee headed a third for Brentford before Bryan Mbuemo put them 4-0 up after 35 minutes
Sunday 14 August 2022 07:25, UK
Erik ten Hag said he could have taken off all of his “naïve” players at half-time after a catalogue of errors put them 4-0 down at the interval against Brentford.
In an astonishing first half in some intense west London heat, Manchester United put in one of their worst performances in 30 years of playing in the Premier League - with Ten Hag's mistake-laden side doing their new manager no favours.
Goalkeeper David de Gea let Josh Dasilva's simple shot crawl under his body at the near post after 10 minutes before the goalkeeper's pass put former Brentford player Christian Eriksen in trouble, with Mathias Jensen gaining possession in the penalty area for a simple finish (18).
The Bees managed to double that advantage before half-time, with Ben Mee leaping over Lisandro Martinez to head home on his home debut (30) before Ivan Toney fed Bryan Mbuemo to finish off a blistering counter-attack for their fourth after just 35 minutes.
Cristiano Ronaldo - recalled to the starting line-up - wasted three chances in a result that leaves Ten Hag's side bottom of the Premier League with zero points, with Liverpool their next opponents at Old Trafford in nine days' time on Monday Night Football.
When asked about his triple substitution at half-time, which saw him take off defenders Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw alongside Fred, Ten Hag said: "I changed three, but I could have changed them all. We wanted to bring some fresh energy in the game, there was nothing specific to the ones we subbed because I don't think it's all to them."
"It's naive, how we played today, you have to play more direct. We said: invite them in [to press] and play long. We attracted them, the space was high on the pitch and we had to choose that option. That's what we couldn't do. It's no good, definitely. That's not the standard on how we want to act.
"You can have a plan, but we put the plan in the bin. It's nothing to do with tactical - the first two goals. It's about dealing with the ball. That's one. And two, decisions.
"They followed my instructions but they made bad decisions. That's football, it's a game of mistakes and we got punished."
United's problems from back to front were laid bare right from the first whistle. In goal, De Gea was left red-faced - and that was not to do with the intense 32-degree heat that hit west London come kick-off.
Dasilva shaped to shoot with his weaker right foot but De Gea couldn't get his body arranged to block the tame effort. Eight minutes later, Ten Hag's defence and midfield tried to entice Brentford by playing out from the back - but couldn't produce the quality to stop those who swarmed to get them.
Eriksen was foiled by his former midfield team-mate Jensen in the penalty area, with Brentford's No 8 setting himself before rolling the ball past a wrong-footed De Gea.
To complete the set in the first half, United's attack produced very little to test David Raya, even with the recalled Ronaldo starting up front. The 37-year-old produced a couple of snapshots which Raya both held and let fly harmlessly over his bar.
Another astonishing five-minute period put the game well and truly beyond United after just 35 minutes. Debutant Mee showed more tenacity than Martinez at the back post to nod in an efficient Brentford corner.
Then, as United tried to claim some sort of route back in the game, Brentford hit them on the break. Toney raced away to find Mbuemo in the middle, who hurdled a late challenge from Luke Shaw from behind to steer the ball past De Gea.
Ten Hag appeared to show his disapproval at half-time with a triple substitution. Tyrell Malacia, Scott McTominay and Raphael Varane replaced Martinez, Shaw and Fred - and there were some minor improvements after the break.
Ronaldo had two excellent chances to pull a goal back as Dalot found him twice in a lot of penalty area space - but headed wide, then over.
Eriksen himself twice went close as he headed straight at Raya before pulling a shot wide from inside the box. But Brentford managed to keep United at arm's length - and didn't need to get out of second gear after half-time.
Sky Sports' Sam Blitz at the Gtech Community Stadium:
Brentford have spent most of this summer either waiting to see if Eriksen would rejoin them or trying to find his replacement. They did exactly that by signing Mikkel Damsgaard on Wednesday - and now they've moved on from the Dane that kept them up.
Just what must Eriksen be thinking after that performance? How did he go from club icon status at Brentford to being involved in this embarrassment?
The difference in quality between the two teams - from the front of the pitch to the back - between the two teams is striking. Raya looked like he knew what he was doing at every turn while De Gea was throwing the ball in the net. Maguire and Martinez did not look up for the fight while Pontus Jansson and Ben Mee made their presence felt throughout. Up front, Brentford showed the clinical finishing that Ronaldo and co could not.
Yet it was in the midfield where Eriksen and United were bullied. Ten Hag surprisingly set up with the normally-attacking Fred at the base, with Eriksen and Fernandes either side of him. Dalot and Shaw came into the midfield to support them - but that just left Maguire and Martinez exposed.
The individual midfield battle was chalk and cheese. Fred couldn't protect the back four so was taken off at half-time, just as Norgaard marshalled the Brentford backline expertly with well-timed tackles or even tactical fouls. Fernandes couldn't compare the chances that Jensen and Dasilva could - while Eriksen's involvement in Brentford's second goal told you everything you need to know.
Yet the comparisons between the two teams go way beyond the pitch. Brentford hand pick their players through a specific recruitment scheme that allows them to uncover gems like Jensen and Mbuemo from Europe.
Sky Sports' Dan Sansom at the Gtech Community Stadium:
Criticising Manchester United has become a weekly occurrence. There is no denying they have been bad for a while, but just when it seemed it could not get any worse, along came Brentford.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was apparently the problem. Then it was Ralf Rangnick. Now Erik ten Hag is under the spotlight. The Dutchman, who is undoubtedly an excellent coach given his success with Ajax, faces an almost impossible task in Manchester. His players simply aren't good enough. He needs more signings, but there's no guarantee he'll get them.
Saturday's 4-0 drubbing in west London flattered United. Brentford may have only had four shots on target in the first half - all of which went in - but it could have easily been double figures. The hosts out-worked, out-muscled and out-classed their opponents.
The stats could not be any more damning, either. The result means United have lost four consecutive league matches for the first time since February 1979. They have also lost seven consecutive away league games for the first time since losing 10 on the bounce between September and December 1936.
There have been embarrassing defeats before - Brighton away last season springs to mind - but this one at Brentford felt the worst of the lot.
Despite the scoreline and performance, though, United supporters are confident Ten Hag is the man to turn their side's fortunes around.
At 4-0 down, the away fans - as they always do - remained in full voice. Chants of 'Erik ten Hag's army' are alive for now. But he got yet another reminder of the mess he has inherited since taking charge this summer.
"I'm convinced I'll get it done - I did it everywhere," he told Sky Sports on Friday in response to a question on how long he needs to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford.
But the 52-year-old has become the first manager to lose each of his first two games in charge of United since John Chapman in November 1921.
He's got the biggest job in football. And the early signs are not good.
United are bottom of the Premier League. It couldn't happen, could it? Well, ask yourself this question: is there a worse team than them in the division?