Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag puts ‘unnecessary’ defeat down to lack of self-belief

United found themselves two goals down inside 39 minutes after twice being exposed on the counter-attack
Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag puts ‘unnecessary’ defeat down to lack of self-belief

Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag lost his first match in charge of the club (Ian Hodgson/PA)

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag insists the 2-1 home defeat to Brighton was “unnecessary” and he put it down to a lack of self-belief.

United found themselves two goals down inside 39 minutes after twice being exposed on the counter-attack which allowed Pascal Gross to score on both occasions.

Cristiano Ronaldo came off the bench in the 53rd minute but could not help change the result as, despite Alex Mac Allister’s own goal midway through the second half, the Seagulls held on for their first win at Old Trafford.

Pascal Gross (right) scored both goals as Brighton beat Manchester United (Ian Hodgson/PA)

“It was unnecessary to lose this game,” said the Dutchman.

“I think it was a good start and then after (the first goal) we dropped down a level, dropped down in belief and we made mistakes and the opponent punished us.

“But I think it is a good opponent, they have worked long together and when you make mistakes you get punished for that against such teams.”

You always have to believe in yourself and stick together as a team.

Asked what positives he could take from the game, Ten Hag added: “The second half, dealing with the setback.

“We dropped down in belief in the first half and that cannot happen, you always have to believe in yourself and stick together as a team.

“We came back in the second half and we had to believe on the pitch and that was good see.

Manchester United suffered defeat in their first game of the new season (Ian Hodgson/PA)

“They have to deal with those setbacks and give themselves belief because they are really good players.

“When you are a well-constructed team you will play well and that is what we saw second half.”

Ten Hag defended his decision to leave Ronaldo, who played just 45 minutes of pre-season, on the bench and play summer signing Christian Eriksen as a false nine.

Even the second-half introduction of Cristiano Ronaldo could not save Manchester United (Ian Hodgson/PA)

“If he was available, a striker, I would have played him,” he said.

“Cristiano Ronaldo was maybe for 10 days in team training and that is too short for 90 minutes so that is the reason we didn’t start him.”

Brighton boss Graham Potter was delighted with his players’ display but had particular praise for former United striker Danny Welbeck who was a threat all afternoon.

Brighton manager Graham Potter heaped praise on Danny Welbeck after the win (Ian Hodgson/PA)

“I thought he was amazing. He is really enjoying his football,” he said.

“He has had his best pre-season since we’ve been working together. You could see the danger he poses to players at this level. It was fantastic.

“What impressed me about the team was there was a lot of responsibility out on the pitch.”

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