The Erik ten Hag era began at Manchester United has begun with a chastening defeat at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.
United fans entered the game full of optimism and intrigue, and it ended in a familiarly depressing defeat.
The team conceded two first half goals to Pascal Gross, before an own goal pulled one back in the second half. The late rally never came, and United slipped to a 2-1 defeat.
If Erik ten Hag was not sure of the scale of the task ahead of him, he will be now. This was a rude awakening for the Dutch manager.
Five reasons Manchester United lost to Brighton
Defensive errors: Diogo Dalot set the tone for a poor performance by giving the ball away leading to a shot within the first 30 seconds of the game.
Another defensive error from Fred inside his own box put United under pressure soon after, although he did go on to recover the ball.
Then the inevitable came as Brighton cut through United’s defence too easily with Pascal Gross scoring twice. This was a back four playing together for the first time, and it showed.
Bruno Fernandes’ early miss: Before conceding the opening goal, Manchester United had a glorious early chance when the ball broke to Bruno Fernandes inside the Brighton box.
Fernandes lashed at his effort, blazing the ball over the bar. This was the best chance United had all half, and it was a wasteful miss. Had he scored and put United 1-0 up, this would have changed the game, and put the team on a path to a positive result.
No striker: Brighton’s defence will have been delighted to see Manchester United line-up with no striker. The team just didn’t pose enough threat.
Cristiano Ronaldo came on in the second half to try and rescue the game, but the damage had already been done in the first 45 minutes when the team lined up without a centre-forward.
A poor transfer window: Ultimately the blame for this defeat lies with the behind the scenes decision makers at Old Trafford.
United’s midfield was sub-standard last season, and it was sub-standard on Sunday. That’s what you get for persisting with a duo of Fred and Scott McTominay which has been proven not to be good enough.
There has not been enough investment in the transfer window, and now any additions will come late. A panic spree could now ensue, and it never should have come to this.