A pathetic display. It could have easily been summed up with De Gea’s feeble attempt at keeping Jay Da Silva’s effort out, which he let slip into the net. Or the poor play between De Gea, yet again, and Eriksen to let Jansen get the second. The third could have also been a fitting summation, as Ben Mee beat Lisandro Martinez at the back post. The fourth showcased the disparity between both teams on the day as a 4 touches were able to get the ball from Brentford’s box to into De Gea’s net, courtesy of a nice finish from Mbeumo. The second half played out like Brentford knew anymore would really get Man Utd into real trouble. An embarrassing display that this United team will definitely look to outdo against Liverpool in 9 days time.
There is a strange feeling that one could have where when there is so much to say, it is almost impossible to know where to begin. Being able to describe the shambles in the first 45 minutes at the Brentford Community Stadium is one of them moments.
Unlike United, I will go back to the simple basics. The last season was chastening and I believe a lot of people, in and outside of United, underestimated the effect that such a season would have on these players. It wasn’t just on the pitch performances, it was actually such a dire season in all regards that being able to be picked up from that, was going to take more than a summer. The lack of movement in the transfer window compounded it. The defeat at Old Trafford last week piled on more. More and more, you see that Man Utd have predicated themselves on naivety and unfortunately, Ten Hag played into that exact ethos.
It takes a brave manager to believe that in the beginning moments you have with a team, you go with the philosophy you seek to end with and not try to be pragmatic on the journey. Build towards the result rather than go through those growing pains. The better managers usually go with the latter but this is not a normal situation or club. The Dutchman said himself that The Red Devils were weak on the left hand side of defence but the right hand side looked no pretty either. Nor was the protection behind any good either.
But, Ten Hag wants to play a technical game and when you see a midfield kitted out with Bruno Fernandes, Fred and Christian Eriksen, you know that the only way you can win such a game is by them getting on the ball and dictating the play. The former two, however, don’t even do that on their best of days so to go to Brentford with that, who love to play direct football and exploit the turnovers you can gain from sloppy technical actions, it was a real risk. They offer no real protection either. Protection that this defence deeply needs. So to make Eriksen the deepest lying midfielder was something that was clearly going to be a pressure zone for the opposition. Not only that, the Bees love to play off set pieces and long balls yet United started with a team that only had any real height in its backline with Maguire.
You can get graces when the mistakes are not of such a basic standard. Ten Hag made several but the gaff that De Gea to let Jay Da Silva open the scoring is just something you are unable to prepare for. Plenty of people will say that United are further problems to look at before they get to the goalkeeper but how many times is he going to make a mistake and set the team on the backfoot with his style of play before people realise he is as much of a problem than anywhere else on the pitch? Even his play for the second, passing to a player who is clearly marked when the proper solution would be to play it to the wider areas, so if it is lost then you can still give you a chance to recover. That’s not to give an excuse to Eriksen either because he lost it beforehand in that same situation but why he is at the base of midfield anyway?
I am unable to properly even look at the attackers because they hardly even get the ball in proper positions to actually create a proper chance, let alone get a goal. The confidence is absolutely shot in both Rashford and Sancho. They looked a shadow of any version of player that we have seen before. Ronaldo doesn’t even want to play for the club anymore and that saga hangs over the club like a bad smell. That saga in fact circles back well to the fact that the club cannot escape the incompetent naivety.
The performance on the pitch has been a build up of mistreatment of it by the current owners off the pitch. There is only so much to say about that game, particularly when Brentford took their foot off the gas, so as not to fully complete the embarrassment. That itself should be a shame to Man Utd but it is not something to phase the owners. The club has been alike a classroom without a teacher for the the last decade. Those below the Glazers have been bad and of course, they will get the blame but why were they appointed in the first place and why were they allowed to continue for so long?
Even those in the positions now, Richard Arnold, John Murtough and Darren Fletcher are the most senior footballing people in the club but what credentials do they have to be in those roles? With the amount of backroom staff that have left the club in the past 12 months, in both the coaching and non-coaching staff, even if they are bad, they need to be replaced. Can you be surprised about the naivety when you have highly inexperienced people in these positions? The importance of getting players in early and bedding them in was paramount. Not just for the lift it can give to players and fans but to help in getting used to the tactics of the new manager. That’s in the normal context of a season. When this is a year with a World Cup slap bang in the middle, taking up most of the midweek training sessions that could have been available to the manager, it is even more important. When almost 10 players have left the club and more want to leave, it would be stupid to do what we have managed to do. That doesn’t need any smart football person to know. Yet, the recruitment team thought doing the silly dance with Frenkie de Jong was more important than actually trying to do get the team ready for the new season. It is amateurish from everyone involved and an explanation is the bare minimum to be expected for what can only be classed as gross negligence in a footballing sense.