Ex-Man Utd assistant blames Ten Hag for ‘disjointed’ Brighton loss as players were left ‘exposed’

Joe Williams
Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag
Erik ten Hag writes notes on the sidelines.

Former Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan has blamed Erik ten Hag for exposing the Red Devils to Brighton’s strengths on Saturday.

The Red Devils slumped to their third Premier League defeat of the season as Brighton won 3-1 at Old Trafford.

Danny Welbeck scored against his former club and further goals from Pascal Gross and substitute Joao Pedro increased the pressure on Man Utd boss Ten Hag.

Hannibal Mejbri’s first Man Utd goal gave the home fans some hope, but boos rang out at the final whistle with another defeat leaving the Red Devils in the bottom half of the table.

And Phelan, who was assistant to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during his time at Old Trafford, insisted that the high level of “rotation” from Ten Hag gave Brighton an advantage.

“It was disjointed,” Phelan told Stadium Astro. “They looked as though they were setting up in a certain way of playing. I thought there was a lot of rotation, which exposed them to the strengths of Brighton, which was to play through the middle.

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“They played through the middle, get it out wide and go again in the final third. They executed their gameplan perfectly. United have some lessons to learn, they need to have a good look at themselves and see where they can improve.

“In the attacking area, obviously they need to score goals, but in midfield and defence they need to tighten up.

“There’s a lot of players starting in certain positions, but then they get caught up in the game and open up space for the opposition to play.

“Teams are working them out and how to expose them. Bring them on, play through them, play beyond them and chances will come.”

Man Utd boss Ten Hag is satisfied with the amount of chances that his team are creating but admits results are starting to become more important than performances.

When asked about their poor run of form, Ten Hag said: “Definitely that is something that bothers me. But also I have to see the way we play.

“But finally it’s about character then. Now we have to see how strong we are, how the team sticks together and which players are standing up and showing the character and leading the team.

“Because in all the games, all the games but especially the games today, against Arsenal and Forest, we have seen we can play very good and we can create a lot of chances.

“But, yes, there are also some improvements to make. That is definitely the case and now we have to step up.”