Manager Erik ten Hag initially expressed optimism about the team’s new 4-3-1-2 formation, citing a strong start in the first 20 minutes of the match. In an interview with the club’s media, he stated, “The first 20 minutes were very good. I think we had the chances, and played well in the first half, but we couldn’t find the back of the net. We didn’t finish.”
Unfortunately for Manchester United, the game extended beyond those promising initial minutes. Brighton’s manager, Roberto de Zerbi, made adjustments to counter United’s new approach, leading to a 3-1 victory for the visitors.
As the game progressed, midfielders Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen encountered difficulties, particularly due to Brighton’s tactics, which created challenges for United. Brighton’s effective use of width stretched United’s deliberately narrow setup, allowing them to enjoy more possession. United’s midfielders found themselves outnumbered, especially as Brighton’s full-backs pushed forward.
Pundit and former midfielder Don Hutchison shared his perspective on ESPN FC following United’s defeat. He expressed sympathy for McTominay and Eriksen, highlighting the demanding roles they had to play.
Hutchison commented, “The two players I feel sorry for the most… the work Scott McTominay had to do, running out to Mitoma and Tariq Lamptey as a central midfielder, was off the charts. On the left-hand side, Eriksen had to do the same, dealing with Veltman and Adingra. Tactically, Ten Hag got it wrong. You could see the patterns of the game.”
However, Hutchison did not extend the same sympathy to midfielder Casemiro, criticizing the Brazilian’s performance. He remarked, “Casemiro really struggled, he struggled badly. He looked like a player who was treading water.”
Casemiro had previously faced criticism in his home country following his performance in Brazil’s recent international matches. It is anticipated that his performance will benefit from the introduction of Sofyan Amrabat into the team once the latter is fully fit.