ERIK ten Hag’s painful introduction to life as Manchester United took an alarming turn for the worse. The Dutchman looked on as his side were swept away by a dominant Brentford who raced into a four-goal lead inside the opening 35 minutes, exposing the flaws in a United side who appeared rudderless as they slumped to a shocking loss.
Having lost at home to Brighton last week, this defeat confirmed there is already a growing sense of crisis enveloping United. Ten Hag’s side were out-played and out-fought, contributing to their own demise with early mistakes - particularly from David de Gea - then lacking the character and nous to recover as Brentford - excellent throughout - took control with goals from Josh Dasilva, Mathia Jensen, Ben Mee and Bryan Mbeumo.
This was a seventh successive away defeat, extending a run that began in the final weeks of last season and off the pitch, the sight of visiting supporters unveiling banners demanding a change on the club’s ownership only added to the feeling this is a club in strife.
It took the home side just ten minutes to take the lead and while they were helped by a calamitous mistake by De Gea, the build-up to the goal was a sign of things to come.
Thomas Frank’s side had immediately shown their intention to pressure the United defence at every opportunity and after forcing a throw in deep in the visitors territory, Jensen then dispossessed Ronaldo before finding Dasilva, whose low shot somehow squirmed through De Gea’s hands.
The keeper was then again at fault when the Bees doubled their lead six minutes later. This time United were caught out as they attempted to play out from a goal kick with De Gea playing Christian Eriksen into trouble with an ill-judged pass. Jensen was again too sharp for his opponent, winning possession before sweeping the ball home.
The sense of shock among the United players and bench was clear. Brentford were more determined and quicker to the ball. They also possessed a distinct height advantage that caused problems at set-pieces, particularly when Lee added the 31st minute third.
A deep corner was directed to Ivan Toney at the far post who headed back across goal towards See who easily won his one-sided aerial contest with Lisandro Martinez to head into the net from close range.
And United’s woeful lack organisation was exposed in the 35th minute when they were unable to deal with a counter-attack that started inside the home penalty area. A long clearance found Toney who again turned provider sending a first time ball towards Mbeumo. The forward held off a challenge from the poorly positioned Luke Shaw before drilling in the fourth.
Ten Hag reacted at half-time by introducing Scott McTominay, Raphael Varane and Tyrell Malacia and while they created clearer chances, there was never any sense Brentford would wilt as they saw out the second half in comfort.
Raya 6; Roerslev 7, Jansson 7, Mee 8; Hickey 7 (Sorensen 80, 6), Dasilva 8 (Janelt 61, 6), Norgaard 8 (Onyeka 80, 6), Jensen 9 (Baptiste 74, 6), Henry 7; Mbeumo 8 (Wissa 74, 6), Toney 8.
Strakosha, Ghoddos, Lewis-Potter, Damsgaard.
De Gea 3; Dalot 4, Maguire 4, Martinez 3 (Varane 46, 6), Shaw 4 (Malacia 46, 6); Eriksen 4 (van de Beek 87, 6), Fred 5 (McTominay 46, 6), Fernandes 5; Sancho 4 (Elanga 60, 5), Ronaldo 6, Rashford 4.
Heaton, Wan-Bissaka, Garner, Garnacho.
Stuart Attwell 6