Erik ten Hag will look a fool if Man Utd don’t fix problem that Maguire blasted

Man Utd players' feelings towards Jadon Sancho after latest Erik ten Hag spat

Manchester United must show they have progressed since Erik ten Hag’s first game in charge when Brighton and Hove Albion return to Old Trafford on Saturday. And the Red Devils can’t afford to replicate their mistakes before the international break, which were also their downfall in that 2-1 defeat to Brighton last August.

The Old Trafford crowd welcomed Ten Hag with excitement as the 2022/23 season got underway with what seemed like a favourable fixture.

But Brighton led 2-0 at half-time through a Pascal Gross brace, and United failed to fight back despite earning a lifeline through Alexis Mac Allister’s 68th-minute own goal.

It made the challenge on Ten Hag’s hands abundantly clear right from the get-go, and a 4-0 defeat at Brentford a week later inspired a change of approach that helped the Dutchman to a successful maiden campaign.

Issues that thwarted United in the fixture have crept back in during another unconvincing start to the season, though.

Defensive errors have contributed to defeats at Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal and almost produced a shock loss to Nottingham Forest on home turf.

“We could do better with the players we had. We made mistakes on the ball and organisation mistakes in defending,” Ten Hag explained after losing to Brighton last year.

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“We have to take the lessons and learn quickly from it. Brighton are a decent team, all the compliments, but I look to my team, and we should not give two easy goals away.”

Then-club captain Harry Maguire also slammed United’s lack of creativity and organisation, making a point that they will repeat the same mistakes if they don’t address the problems.

Maguire said: “We had a lot of pressure and a lot of ball, but we need to be a bit more creative, and we need to improve on that.

“It’s something we need to address, or it’ll keep happening. The first goal felt like a big blow to all 11 of our players.

“Everyone knew the task. We had a bad season last season. We’ve got a new manager trying to put his philosophy on the team, but when we don’t get it right, we look far too open.”

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It draws concerns, considering over a year later, United are still suffering the same mistakes that have dealt early blows this term.

And Ten Hag could be questioned if the Red Devils show little sign of improvement when Brighton land in M16 for a rematch on Saturday.

Since that opening-day defeat to the Seagulls last term, the visitors have flourished into one of the Premier League’s most dangerous sides, qualifying for the Europa League with a sixth-place finish.

If anything, United will undoubtedly be less complacent when Roberto De Zerbi’s side are in town this time around.

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